Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

The Playlist

Review: Judd Apatow's 'This Is 40' Is Sprawling And Undisciplined, But Emotionally Honest Too

  • By Drew Taylor
  • |
  • December 18, 2012 12:30 PM
  • |
  • 6 Comments
Hearing that writer/director Judd Apatow, arguably the most influential and highly regarded comedic talent in the past decade, was making a "sort-of sequel" to his smash "Knocked Up," it's easy to assume that his creative well has run dry. Why return to that world, only to focus on a pair of side characters (played by Paul Rudd and Apatow's wife, Leslie Mann), especially when Apatow seems particularly fascinated by the interpersonal relationships between modern day fuck-ups, which provide a nearly endless canvas to paint on. But that "sort-of sequel" is anything but an eager cash-grab or a creatively bankrupt ploy; Apatow is genuinely invested in these characters and scenarios. One of the main problems is that it's an unfocused movie without a narrative rudder; a collection of funny observations about marriage and family without much connective tissue or momentum in an ultimately small stakes story. Apatow indulges in his freeform tendencies to a particularly destructive degree with "This is 40," resulting in a movie whose ambitions are only equaled by its shortcomings.

Review: 'Jack Reacher' Is The Rare Franchise-Starter That Makes You Hungry For More

  • By Drew Taylor
  • |
  • December 17, 2012 1:15 PM
  • |
  • 6 Comments
Much of the hoopla surrounding "Jack Reacher," the first adaptation of the insanely popular series of Lee Child-penned thrillers, has had to do with the casting of the diminutive Tom Cruise in the title role. As described in the novels, Reacher is, physically speaking, a brute – close-cropped blonde hair, nearly seven-feet tall, well over 200 pounds. In one of the novels he literally crushes a dude's skull with his bare hands. By comparison, Tom Cruise could fit snugly into a standard-sized teacup, is slimmer than an iPhone 5, and has muddy brown hair. But one of the more miraculous things about "Jack Reacher," an altogether entertaining and completely surprising pulp romp, is how Cruise embodies the Reacher character in the way he moves, the way he glances, and the way he talks (or doesn't talk). It doesn't matter that Tom Cruise is the tiny, snuggly version of Jack Reacher. He is still, very much, Jack Reacher.

Review: Abbie Cornish Shines, But The Questionable 'The Girl' Remains Ethically Dubious

  • By Rodrigo Perez
  • |
  • December 14, 2012 10:05 AM
  • |
  • 2 Comments
Well-told, well-shot and featuring a strong, but restrained and internalized performance from actress Abbie Cornish, director David Riker's "The Girl" is a mannered and in-the-pocket indie drama that might be a total subdued winner if it weren't for its dubious political ideologies, an irony considering the film's DNA is clearly built on humanist tendencies. While the Australian Cornish does have mild issues with sticking the landing on her Texas accent, it's her meatiest role since the deeply underrated "Bright Star" and lesser-seen, but no less valuable indies like "Somersault" and "Candy" (the latter featuring her going toe-to-toe with Heath Ledger and giving as good as she got) and she makes the most of it. 

Review: Coming-Of-Age At A Workmanlike Pace In 'Yelling To The Sky'

  • By Gabe Toro
  • |
  • December 13, 2012 6:56 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
If you’ve seen enough movies, you’ve seen “Yelling To The Sky.” There’s a slight disappointment that, as a bleak inner-city coming-of-age film, this picture is part of its own subgenre. Not only because of the familiarity to some audience members, but also due to the fact that these pictures consistently reflect a serious divide within the middle class. In this picture, the characters aren’t necessarily poor, but they might as well be, as cabinets fall apart as often as the characters’ own composures.

Review: 'Let Fury Have The Hour' A Primer On The Creative Response To Reagan/Thatcher Era Rule

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
  • |
  • December 13, 2012 6:00 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
The ability to openly question and criticize the government is one of the foundations of democracy, and one of the cornerstones of any free country's constitutions and laws. It is not only within our power to elect officials to office, but we also reserve the right to make sure they stand up for and protect the good of the general public who voted them in, and if they don't, we are free to react any way we see fit (within the law, of course). And while the cliché is that great art is often fueled by great strife, there is also a ring of truth to it. And in "Let Fury Have The Hour," a strong case is made that the conservative, individualism politics of the Reagan and Thatcher era 1980s, helped spur punk rock, independent filmmaking and other artistic forms that continue to have an impact decades later.

Review: 'Save The Date' Is Light & Endearing Without Being Insubstantial; What Other Rom-Coms Should Aspire To Be

  • By Cory Everett
  • |
  • December 13, 2012 5:03 PM
  • |
  • 2 Comments
With the countless number of romantic comedies focused on how difficult it is for a woman to find a good man, it’s incredibly refreshing to see one where the tables are turned. In “Save The Date,” Lizzy Caplan stars as Sarah, a struggling illustrator who keeps herself afloat by managing a local bookstore. After dating her boyfriend Kevin (Geoffrey Arend) for two years, she has hesitantly agreed to move in with him to take their relationship to the next level. Kevin is the singer in a two-man indie band called Wolf Bird -- because all indie bands have Wolf in their name -- whose drummer Andrew (Martin Starr) is engaged to Sarah’s sister Beth (Alison Brie). Their first night as cohabitants looks like romantic bliss as the couple tenderly slow dances together, while Sarah warns that she will be a horrible roommate, messy and forgetful. Kevin is smitten anyway, and despite the warnings of friends that he may be moving too fast, he hatches a plan to propose to Sarah during the final Wolf Bird concert before he embarks on a nationwide tour. But his spur-of-the-moment gesture goes horribly awry and Sarah storms out, leaving the entire embarrassing incident captured on YouTube.

Review: 'Any Day Now' Hectors Audiences With Good Intentions But Maudlin Melodrama

  • By Gabe Toro
  • |
  • December 12, 2012 5:00 PM
  • |
  • 3 Comments
On first glance, there would be a certain “walking on eggshells” approach necessary for discussing “Any Day Now,” which is based on a tragic true story that allows the film a certain dramatic heft. “Any Day Now” touches on the rights of same-sex couples as well as treatment of the mentally disabled, and the natural approach is to address the film with kid gloves, even if these are professional actors playing dress-up-make-believe. Opinions about a film, no matter how well-spoken, tend to carry more weight than actual human compassion, even if it’s manufactured.

Review: 3 Different Opinions On The Good & The Bad Of Quentin Tarantino's 'Django Unchained'

  • By The Playlist Staff
  • |
  • December 12, 2012 12:06 AM
  • |
  • 69 Comments
Films by Quentin Tarantino aren't exactly Halley's Comet, but for a while there, they didn't come as often as some filmgoers would have liked. And while the filmmaker seems to be back at his pace of delivering a film every two or three years, the arrival of a new Tarantino picture generally makes the cinema world sit up and take notice. And as always, opinions on his films vary wildly from film to film, from cinephile to cinephile.

Review: Adolescence, Love & Faith, Bond & Break Three Teenagers In Beautiful 'Only The Young'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
  • |
  • December 7, 2012 9:58 AM
  • |
  • 2 Comments
There is almost a Terrence Malick-like air of mystery around "Only The Young." The press notes don't reveal much except what you'll already know going into the movie: that it's about the lives of three teenagers in a Southern California town, that is named in the film, but that we forgot by time it came to write this review. And really, it doesn't matter. Like the aforementioned director, Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims are less concerned about providing a comprehensive narrative to their documentary (a term that can only be applied very loosely), and more focused on capturing a sensation and snapshot of a moment. They succeed with quiet authority, crafting a film at times lovely, melancholy, funny and always compelling.

Review: 'In Our Nature' An Exploration Of Discord & Dysfunction Backed By Strong Performances

  • By Todd Gilchrist
  • |
  • December 7, 2012 8:00 AM
  • |
  • 1 Comment
If it weren’t for dysfunctional relationships, independent films might never have any stories to tell. “In Our Nature” is the latest in a long line of small-scale films about children who don’t get along with their parents, and the terms both come to in the process of a shared experience that throws them together – in predictably unwitting fashion, of course. But solid performances from the central quartet of actors, including Zack Gilford, Jena Malone, John Slattery and Gabrielle Union elevate Brian Savelson’s debut as a writer and director despite its familiarity as not just a story but almost an entire cinematic subgenre.

Email Updates

Recent Comments