The Playlist

Review: 'Piranha 3DD' Dutifully Fails To Be In On The Joke

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 31, 2012 2:19 PM
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  • 11 Comments
If you're gonna go for it, go for it. That was the philosophy Alexandre Aja pursued for the bleakly funny "Piranha 3D," an orgy of death and dismemberment that indulged in the hedonism of spring break before letting loose swarms of genetically-superior fish that were decidedly playing for keeps. As much as Aja's characters had tongue firmly planted in cheek (see: Jerry O'Connell as Joe Francis), his committment to tearing these characters apart like cheap confetti never wavered, orchestrating a straight-faced massacre that might as well have been "Saving Private Ryan" for the "Jersey Shore" generation. Aja, like the piranhas, saw the youth of today and tasted blood in the water, not so much with a smile as much as a predatory grin.

Review: ‘Hide Away’ Has A Great Performance By Josh Lucas Nearly Suffocated By A Truly Lousy Movie

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • May 31, 2012 1:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
John Lucas is one of those actors who, mathematically at least, ought to be a movie star. He’s been a part of several high profile projects that should have launched him into the starry stratosphere (he was the romantic lead in Reese Witherspoon’s hit “Sweet Home Alabama;” a heavy in Ang Lee’s “Hulk;” and the anchor in big budget Hollywood movies that were supposed to be hits but ended up tanking, things like “Poseidon” and “Stealth”) and he has a laid back appeal and versatility (seek out his menacing turn in David Gordon Green’s underrated “Undertow”) that should put him in the same league as, say, Bradley Cooper. Instead, he’s stuck in projects undeserving of his considerable talents… Like the low-budget indie “Hide Away,” a truly lousy movie that does everything it can to suffocate Lucas’ very fine performance.

Review: 'Snow White & the Huntsman' Is A Beautiful Slog

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • May 31, 2012 10:10 AM
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  • 21 Comments
2012 has already delivered one big-budget movie based on the classic Grimm Brothers' fairy tale "Snow White." Earlier this spring arrived Tarsem's fizzy, Bollywood-ish "Mirror Mirror," which saw Julia Roberts vamping it up as the evil queen, surrounded by the most cheesily phony-looking sets this side of a Hammer horror movie -- if the movie had been any lighter it would have blown off the screen. And this week lands another: "Snow White & the Huntsman," an oppressively grim (pun very much intended) take on the fairy tale that instead favors mood, menace, and a kind of earthy grittiness, over the airier "Mirror Mirror." The problem is, that for all its frequently jaw-dropping visual panache, in narrative terms it sputters and stalls, sagging under the weight of its visual opulence.

Review: Ridley Scott's 'Prometheus' Is A Gorgeous, Fascinating Muddle Of Ideas That Can't Stick The Landing

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 30, 2012 7:11 PM
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  • 61 Comments
Ambition is a rare thing in movies these days, especially when it comes to summer blockbuster fare. There might be ambitions to blow up bigger things, or include more bad guys, or feature more stars, but in terms of real ambition -- telling big stories, about big subjects, on a huge canvas -- only a handful of filmmakers are really playing ball. Far more so than its predecessor "Alien," which is, after all, pretty much a haunted house designed to scare the living hell out of you, Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" has big ambitions. It wants to ask the big questions -- where do we come from? Why are we here? -- while also serving as a 3D, CGI-filled thrill ride.

Cannes Review: 'Therese Desqueyroux' Starring Audrey Tautou Is A Banal Version Of 'Masterpiece Theater'

  • By Simon Abrams
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  • May 26, 2012 3:45 PM
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  • 0 Comments
"Therese Desqueyroux," the closing night selection for this year's main competition lineup at the Cannes Film Festival, is not the nuanced period drama it should be but rather a banal, pseudo-thoughtful and monotonous episode of "Masterpiece Theater." Co-adapted by director Claude Miller ("A Secret," "Class Trip"), the latest adaptation of Francois Mauriac's acclaimed novel reduces the titular heroine's story to a troubled individual's struggle to remain autonomous as a member of her oppressive husband’s family. The phrase, "For the family" is bludgeoned into viewers' heads to the point where it's very easy to ignore the fact that Therese (Audrey Tautou) is more than just a proto-desperate housewife. In fact, she's a fatalist because she's also an atheist, a complex concept that Miller sets up but doesn't follow through on.

Cannes Review: Sprawling 'Hemingway & Gellhorn' Worthy Of The Rough & Tumble Life Of Two Great Writers

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 26, 2012 1:50 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Ernest Hemingway is the kind of grandiose figure that it seems it would be difficult to contain within the framework of a feature film, and the decision to pair his life with that of his ex-wife Martha Gellhorn only adds to the task at hand. But with the leisure of a two-and-a-half hour running time, a starry ensemble, the guiding hands of director Philip Kaufman ("The Right Stuff," "The Unbearable Lightness Of Being") and the support of HBO, "Hemingway & Gellhorn" is a messy, but still worthwhile film about the two writers that does a strong job of bringing their complex, explosive and committed relationship to the big screen.

Cannes Review: 'Mud' Starring Matthew McConaughey Is An Underwhelming Anti-Fairy Tale

  • By Simon Abrams
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  • May 26, 2012 8:28 AM
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  • 27 Comments
"Mud," American writer/director Jeff Nichols' underwhelming follow-up to the masterfully visceral "Take Shelter," is a shallow and contrived coming of age story. While both 'Shelter' and "Shotgun Stories," Nichols' promising debut feature, explore their respective characters' motives and emotions, "Mud" instead offers pat sentiments and bland bathos.

Review: In 'OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie,' Too Much Bud Gets A Little Boring

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • May 25, 2012 3:57 PM
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  • 1 Comment
"OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger's Movie" is a completely unique documentary that depicts one man's struggle -- co-director Bud Clayman -- with his Asperger's Syndrome and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Yes, Bud's got the one-two punch of Asperger's and OCD, the symptoms of which began to manifest themselves in his late teens/early twenties, as they do in many young men who suffer from such mental illnesses like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
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Cannes Review: David Cronenberg's 'Cosmopolis' Is Both An Excellent Adaptation & A Rich, Complex Character Study

  • By Simon Abrams
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  • May 25, 2012 8:12 AM
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  • 12 Comments
"Cosmopolis," an adaptation of Don DeLillo’s typically provocative novel of the same name, is the first feature film since 1999's "eXistenZ" that filmmaker David Cronenberg has directed and scripted. This in part explains why "Cosmopolis" is such a triumph: it’s both an exceptional adaptation and a remarkable work unto itself.

Cannes Review: Leos Carax's 'Holy Motors' Is An Anything Goes Stew Of Big Ideas That Doesn't Always Work

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 24, 2012 6:04 PM
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  • 15 Comments
Hilarious and dull, fascinating and pretentious, there is no doubt that Leos Carax's "Holy Motors" is memorable. Whether it's actually any good is up for debate. Bold and confounding in equal measure, Carax's first feature in over a decade is less a movie than a collection of sketches about the making of movies, inspired by a handful of projects Carax has tried to realize over the years but which never came together. Carrying a contemptuousness and cynicism about the current state of cinema -- "All of it made possible by digital cameras, which I despise" Carax says in the press notes of the film -- the helmer both gazes outwards and look inwards in an ultimately sloppy and tremendously bonkers screed.

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