The Playlist

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Four' Is A Remarkable & Moving Portrait of Solitude

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 19, 2012 1:59 PM
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  • 5 Comments
We are all faced with loneliness at one time or another, perhaps for longer periods than we can understand or accept. In a modern world, with all the connectivity our technology and our society have to offer, we may still be confronted by the looming threat of isolation. This condition of being alone, of lacking a friend, lover, or confidant in which to share your most personal self is the subject of “Four,” written and directed by Joshua Sanchez. In its relatively brief 76 minutes, the film provides a beautiful commentary on this state, a quiet and poetic meditation on the solitude of the human condition.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Gayby' Is A Slightly Amusing Little Comedy About...You Guessed It, Babymaking With Your Best Gay

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 19, 2012 12:58 PM
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  • 0 Comments
You have one chance to figure out what “Gayby” is about. If you said “gay baby,” ding ding ding, you got it! Or maybe it should be “baby with a gay,” but at any rate, “Gayby” treads the familiar narrative path of the contentious relationship between the single woman and her biological clock. Much like Madonna and Rupert Everett in “The Next Best Thing,” college buds Jen and Matt (Jennifer Harris and Matthew Wilkas, real life college buds, check out their snapshots in the title sequence) decide to make a go of this whole babymaking business (yes, the old fashioned way).

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'The Queen Of Versailles' Is A Bundle Of Sarcastic Laughs With A Little Heart Thrown In

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 19, 2012 9:56 AM
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  • 0 Comments
“The Queen of Versailles” lives up to the dual meaning of its title. The documentary, directed by Lauren Greenfield, follows Jackie and David Siegel and their eight children – one of the wealthiest families in America – as they task themselves with building the largest home in the country, a mansion estate that they have dubbed Versailles. Midway through construction, however, comes the onset of the current economic recession, sending the family’s finances reeling and work on their new home screeching to a halt. Documented over the course of three years, this film showcases the slow demise of the closest thing this country has to an aristocracy, equating the Siegels’ financial downfall with the dethroning of a King and Queen.

Review: ‘Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World’ Is Too Apocalyptically Cute

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • June 19, 2012 8:59 AM
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  • 8 Comments
“Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” the directorial debut of writer Lorene Scafaria (she also wrote “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”), has a premise that, if handled correctly, could really shake up romantic comedy conventions in new and exciting ways. It’s set during the final weeks of our planet’s life, as a killer asteroid rockets toward earth and the basic functions of society start to decay and fall apart. It’s sort of like “Melancholia” if the wedding section had been a screwball comedy, or maybe if you wanted “Armageddon” to be more like “Crazy Stupid Love.” And “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” while occasionally punctuated with poignancy and darkness, never fully engages with the niftiness of its concept. It’s ultimately too cute to really be about anything, a clever premise lost in a sea of apocalyptically bland romantic comedy conventions.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Ruby Sparks' A Delightful Romantic Comedy That Tugs At The Heartstrings & Rings Of An Instant Classic

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 18, 2012 3:13 PM
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  • 7 Comments
It’s been six long years since Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ narrative feature debut, the much beloved “Little Miss Sunshine.” But the directing duo is back with a new film, “Ruby Sparks,” and with it, prove that some things are worth the wait. With a script by its 28 year old star, Zoe Kazan, and co-starring her real life boyfriend Paul Dano, “Ruby Sparks” is a winning, charming yet bittersweet exploration of love and relationships, those that exist in both in reality and fantasy.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Dead Man's Burden' Is A Stunningly Shot, Slow Burner Of A Classic, Yet Modern Western

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 17, 2012 9:58 AM
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  • 1 Comment
One of the most cinematically gorgeous independent films in a long time, “Dead Man’s Burden” (along with fellow 2012 indie “Beasts of the Southern Wild," shot on Super 16) truly makes the case for celluloid. While watching this meditative Western, one simply wants to drink in the beauty of the image, and yes, that image is created on 35 mm film. They don’t make RED cameras that can do what this film achieves in terms of sheer richness of image. In the age of digital everything, might independent film, at one time the dominion of digital, be the savior of celluloid?

L.A. Film Fest Review: A Well-Constructed 'People Like Us' Is Marred By Its Sentimental Mawkishness

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 17, 2012 9:44 AM
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  • 10 Comments
Alex Kurtzman’s new film, “People Like Us,” shares the technical prowess of some existential sound and picture classics, employing supreme aural and visual techniques to create subjectivity. However, an increasingly rote storyline and adherence to syrupy sweet romantic comedy tropes leaves a murky aftertaste: a schmaltzy tearjerker masquerading as a psychological thriller.

Review: 'The Girl From The Naked Eye' Strictly For Lovers Of Z-Grade Noir

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • June 15, 2012 11:05 AM
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  • 2 Comments
In the early days of noir filmmaking, even when a book was the source of the story, the films were made with a genuine sense of danger. Noir was still a new genre, and we didn’t exactly know the rules quite yet. That led to filmmakers essentially writing, shooting and performing what they knew, from the dangerous bar down the street, to the dame with whom they shouldn’t have trifled, to the backroom brawls that had the stench of sweat, desperation, and bourbon. It’s a cliché to point out that yesterday’s filmmakers actually lived life, but it’s true -- the internet hadn’t yet been invented.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'To Rome With Love' Is Another Minor Foreign Postcard From Woody Allen

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 15, 2012 7:36 AM
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  • 2 Comments
In the recent PBS "American Masters" portrait of Woody Allen by director Robert Weide, Allen describes how he has a file folder filled with hundreds of loglines for movies he has come up with over the years; after completing each film, he sorts through them, finds one that speaks to him at the time and writes it up. To that end, "To Rome With Love" feels like four minor stories that Allen found in a pile and loosely stitched together in a narrative tied to Rome. That said, Rome is beautiful, and a mouthwatering set for any director. Unfortunately, you can't build a movie on a set alone.

Review: 'Extraterrestrial' Is A Charming & Ambitious Sci-Fi Rom Com

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • June 14, 2012 1:02 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In 2007 Nacho Vigalondo wrote, directed, and co-starred in "Timecrimes," a loopy Spanish language time travel thriller that announced a bold new voice in science fiction filmmaking. Ingenious on an almost molecular level, the incredibly low budget feature combined traditional time travel concerns (including multiple variations of the same character) with a hard thriller edge and a DePalmian obsession with voyeurism. In short: it was an absolute blast. Well, Vigalondo is finally back, with an altogether different take on science fiction. "Extraterrestrial" (or "Extraterrestre" in its original language) is a kind of romantic comedy set against the backdrop of a global alien invasion. It might not be as bold or crackling as "Timecrimes," but it is just as unique.

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