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HIFF Review: Charming 'Sin Bin' Heavily Indebted To The Work Of Wes Anderson

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 9, 2012 6:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Young filmmakers often reference their heroes outright. This isn't a phenomenon exclusive to creatively wayward directors; look at the early films of genuine auteur Paul Thomas Anderson to see wholesale theft from Martin Scorsese and Robert Altman (to name a few). But when the references are a distraction to the point of actively taking away from the enjoyment of the movie, that's when things become a problem. And it's a problem that plagues the otherwise wonderful "Sin Bin," a charming little comedy about a high school kid (Michael Seater) who rents his beat-up van out to his fellow students for sexual liaisons, which owes such a stylistic debt to the films of Wes Anderson that it makes you think somewhat less of the movie.

Review: Broken Souls Come Together In Contrived Melodrama 'Least Among Saints'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 9, 2012 11:02 AM
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  • 2 Comments
There are two films at war in “Least Amongst Saints,” and neither is very compelling. The first is a faith-forward feature about redemptive spirits, where Anthony (writer/director Martin Papazian) attempts to pull himself out of a PTSD funk fueled by alcohol and bad decisions upon his return from the Middle East. The soft-gauze photography, flat storytelling and overt moralizing suggests a product straight from the Bible Belt, and even the soundtrack, both pop and orchestral, leans towards the churchy.

Review: 'Smiley' An Internet Age Horror Film That's Not Quite Worth Booting Up

  • By Mark Zhuravsky
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  • October 9, 2012 10:00 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Thirty minutes into Michael Gallagher’s “Smiley,” we were ready to turn off the film, but in the interest of reviewing the movie, we persisted. It was an arduous journey, a deceptively tolerable horror flick that briefly flirts with an interesting idea or two and then casts them aside for cheap scares, with leaden philosophical discussions interspersed throughout in an attempt to elevate the trappings of the film. We soldiered on, but just remember, dear reader, that you have the option of permanently delaying the watching of this film.
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NYFF Impressions: Steven Spielberg Unveils His 'Lincoln' History Lesson In Surprise Screening

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • October 8, 2012 10:42 PM
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  • 18 Comments
Characterized by refreshing restraint, its passionate convictions and patience, if Steven Spielberg’s worst tendencies are his propensity for the sentimental and overwrought (as evinced recently in much of “War Horse”), his latest, “Lincoln,” thankfully possesses almost none of those unfortunate traits. However, as a two hour procedural about the ratification of an amendment in the House Of Representatives (does anything sound more appealing as a premise to you?), "Lincoln" is also not exactly the most engaging nor well-paced picture either.

HIFF Review: Disney's 2D & 3D Animated 'Paperman' A Romantic & Inventive Short

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 8, 2012 5:20 PM
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  • 8 Comments
This year's Hamptons International Film Festival has largely been defined by movies that make you want to cry your eyes out until they're squishy red gobs. Pictures like "Rust and Bone," "Amour" and "Silver Linings Playbook" challenge even the manliest audience members to sit there with a straight face and not be reduced to jags of blubbery weeping. But no movie at the festival has packed quite the emotional punch of the Disney Animation short film "Paperman," which, in its brief 7-minute run time, will defy even the most stoic viewer to keep a straight face. From the opening frame, the film's sweeping romanticism and groundbreaking visual style proves too much to resist. The fact that this might be the new face of traditional animation isn't something that even registers; it's that involving.

HIFF Review: 'The Girl' Creates Dark Hitchcockian Mood, But At The Cost Of Virtually Everything Else

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 7, 2012 12:18 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Like with the two competing Snow White movies earlier this year, Hollywood finds itself in the midst of battling Alfred Hitchcock pseudo-biographies this fall; each detailing the production of one of the master director's seminal films and his relationship with that film's comely leading lady. Timed for optimum Oscar impact, arriving in November is "Hitchcock," with Anthony Hopkins as the tumescent filmmaker and a story centered around the making of his touchstone horror classic "Psycho." And later this month HBO is airing "The Girl," starring Toby Jones and Sienna Miller as Hitchcock and ingénue Tippi Hedren, who the director provoked into starring in both "The Birds" and "Marnie."

Hamptons Film Fest Review: 'Sparrows Dance' A Simple Story Delivered With Affecting Charm

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 6, 2012 11:56 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The synopsis for "Sparrow's Dance," the new pocket-sized film from writer/director Noah Buschel, makes it literally sound like the most boring movies ever forged. It's about an unnamed agoraphobic woman (Marin Ireland, most notably from TV shows like "Homeland" and "The Killing"), who struggles with making the simplest human contact. All of that has to change when her apartment becomes flooded and she has to allow a plumber named Wes (Paul Sparks, the colorful goon Mickey Doyle on "Boardwalk Empire") in to fix the leak. That is pretty much as far as it goes for plot. But, amazingly, unburdened with excessive narrative and weighted by a pair of outstanding performances, "Sparrow's Dance" (under Buschel's inventive direction) absolutely flies.

Review: 'Fat Kid Rules The World' A Modestly Affecting Directorial Debut For Matthew Lillard

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 6, 2012 11:08 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Some actors-turned-directors jump out of the box fully-formed, fully utilizing a learned bag of tricks to properly convey their show business experience, to tell a story that burns inside of them. And some, lacking real vision, just want to take a shot at something new. It appears Matthew Lillard is among the latter group, as evidenced by his directorial debut “Fat Kid Rules The World.” Which isn’t bad, of course -- in adapting the source material of the same name, Lillard goes for clarity and humanity over artistry and esotericism. Modest as it may be, the film is not without its pleasures.

VIFF Review: Brazilian 'Neighbouring Sounds' Is A Film For People Watchers

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • October 5, 2012 5:08 PM
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  • 1 Comment
We lovers of cinema are nosy little bastards. It is the medium for the voyeur. We like to watch, truly a “race of Peeping Toms” as “Rear Window” taught us. The Brazilian film “Neighbouring Sounds” is kinda like that Hitchcock masterpiece, in a way. It’s all about observing. It’s the audience and the camera that fills the James Stewart role here, and we’re not wheelchair bound, so we get to see more. Let there be no mistake, though, this is not a thriller or murder mystery. If it’s clear plot you hold dear, or clean and tidy resolution, then look elsewhere.

NYFF Review: 'Memories Look At Me' A Comforting, Modest Micro Indie

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 5, 2012 3:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Song Fang's "Memories Look At Me" is a tough one: while the filmmaker's debut is a lovely, pleasant experience, it's extremely difficult to make the movie sound at all appealing. A large percentage of it takes place in a single apartment, with each dialogue-heavy scene generally composed of a single static shot; the camera with a view of either someone's side or back, but rarely their front. There's no plot, arcs, narrative thrust, or anything of the kind. Party poopers will quickly decry that "nothing happens" and, honestly, they wouldn't be wrong. But mysteriously, the intensely slice-of-life 'Memories' works, and its comforting nature and attention to real moments make for an especially soothing experience.

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