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The Playlist

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.

NYFF Review: Rock 'N' Roll Dreams Are Fleeting & Familiar In David Chase's Uneven 'Not Fade Away'

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • October 5, 2012 2:04 PM
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  • 5 Comments
For a film that’s ostensibly set to the vibrant pulse of early ‘60s rock 'n' roll and blues -- The Rolling Stones, the early Beatles, Bo Diddley, etc. -- David Chase’s directorial debut, “Not Fade Away,” sure has a curious, circuitous and eventually long-winded tempo. Set in 1964, just a few months after the Kennedy assassination with Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement and the sexual revolution in the air, “The Sopranos” creator’s ambitions are decidedly simpler and much more small scale.

Review: 'Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You' Proves Its Title Wrong

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 5, 2012 2:04 PM
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  • 3 Comments
The displeasure one feels in watching, or simply enduring, the indie dramedy "Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You" is directly proportional to how throughly selfish and unsympathetic the lead character James truly is. When we're first introduced to the misanthrope, he's on the roof of his home in New York City with the family dog, whom he ties to a steam pipe, only to have it watch, obviously concerned, as he contemplates dropping himself to his death into the street below. And then toward the end of the film, when he comes across the dead body of a relative (oh, spoiler? -- there will be more, and believe us, you don't want to watch this movie), instead of trying to find help or alert someone, he calmly sits down and opens up the birthday present he was going to receive from them. These are the heights of his self-involvement, and everything in between isn't much better.
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Review: James Bond Doc ‘Everything Or Nothing’ Is A Fascinating, In-Depth Look At The Ups & Downs Of The Iconic Super-Spy

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 5, 2012 1:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
This year James Bond, the dapper British super-spy with a taste for violence and sex, turns 50, and in celebration of this momentous achievement a new deluxe Blu-ray box set is being released, a new film premieres in theaters this fall (“Skyfall” from “American Beauty” director Sam Mendes) and a new documentary, “Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007,” debuts on the Epix channel. Fifty years of thorny history snappily condensed into less than two hours is a challenge worthy of James Bond himself, but miraculously the filmmakers (including director Stevan Riley), have done the impossible. The result is a story full of just as much intrigue, suspense, and heartache as in your typical spy yarn. The difference is: this all really happened.

Review: 'Escape Fire' Paints A Portrait Of A Broken System & A Hopeful, Humanist Solution

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • October 5, 2012 9:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare" opens with an anecdotal analogy that initially seems kind of out of place in a documentary about health care systems. Dr. Don Berwick relates how a firefighter, while combatting an out of control forest fire, chose to set a fire around him in order to burn up the fuel and wait out rampaging flames to escape unscathed. Quickly though, the film, directed by documentarians Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke, establishes that the forest fire our nation currently faces is our inefficient, money-gobbling health care system, and the best idea might just be to torch the whole thing to the ground. This thesis is quickly laid out with a sense of extreme urgency in a title sequence that juxtaposes talking heads, statistics, news reports and footage of patients in hospitals in order to get us all on the same page: this health care system we’re working with ain’t cutting it.

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