The Playlist

Tribeca Review: 'Supporting Characters' Is A Middling Movie, But A Decent Would-Be Pilot Episode For A Show We Might Watch

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 26, 2012 8:05 PM
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What fascinates about “Supporting Characters,” the new relationship comedy premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, is that it’s greatest strength also registers as its most notable weakness. This decidedly Noo Yawk tale of an editing team in New York City and their satellite friends wouldn’t be at home as an extended pilot on IFC, with these two best friend leads getting into all sorts of middle-aged male troubles. It’s good, and bad, just like TV.

Tribeca Review: 'Graceland' Mashes Together Suspense Thriller With Sobering Child Trafficking Drama, With Mixed Results

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 26, 2012 7:35 PM
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Mild-mannered husband and father Marlon Villar is just having one of those days. The boss is on his case. His wife is being needy. His daughter is acting up. The cops are bugging him. “Graceland” begins as a compendium of what some adults would call a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Wah wah.

Tribeca Review: 'Beyond The Hill' A Slow Burn Without The Burn

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 26, 2012 7:02 PM
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Initially a proficient micro-budget character study with promises of suspense, "Beyond The Hill" squanders its tension by hitting repetitive notes and devolving into a heavy-handed parable. Emin Alper's little bag of tricks can't sustain an entire film and no amount of beautifully-photographed landscapes make up for the fact that movie is essentially a slow-burn without the burn.

Review: Dim-Witted Edgar Allan Poe Thriller 'The Raven' Is Too Boring To Be A Guilty Pleasure

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 26, 2012 5:20 PM
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  • 3 Comments
About ten minutes into James McTeigue's "The Raven," a large, hairy man -- a writer and a critic, as it turns out -- is strapped to a table by a mysterious figure. A mighty blade, inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's "The Pit And The Pendulum," hangs forbodingly above him. And to his unseen captor, he screams "I'm just a critic! Why? Why would you do this to me?" After sitting through a further hundred minutes of McTeigue's inept, idiotic period thriller, we knew exactly how he felt.

Review: Restrained Werner Herzog Still Shines In Gripping 'Death Row' Series

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • April 26, 2012 5:01 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The prologue of each of the four episodes of “Death Row” is the same: a restless camera prowls through the dismal ante-room, holding cell and injection chamber of an unnamed execution facility, while director Werner Herzog tells us in his familiar teutonic monotone that, as a German and a guest of the United States, he “respectfully disagree[s]” with the death penalty, legal in 34 states, and performed regularly in 16.

Review: Nasty Nordic Thriller 'Headhunters' Doesn't Have The Courage Of Its Convictions

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 26, 2012 4:01 PM
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  • 2 Comments
For fans of the crime genre, both on the page and on the screen, Scandinavia has been the hottest source of new material in recent years (although obviously not literally). Steig Larsson's Millennium trilogy was a huge bestseller worldwide, and has already provided three Swedish films and David Fincher's upcoming remake "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo," while Kenneth Branagh has had great success on TV as Henning Mankell's "Wallander," and Danish series "The Killing" proved a huge hit at home and in the U.K, and was remade on AMC under the same name.

Review: Richard Linklater's 'Bernie' Starring Jack Black Is A Harmless, But Charming & Funny Effort

  • By Edward Davis
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  • April 26, 2012 3:01 PM
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Employing a laid-back, jovial and amiable mien, Richard Linklater's latest effort, the East Texas-set black comedy "Bernie," is not unlike the Austin-based filmmaker himself: affable, eager to please without pandering, and highly likeable. In fact, "Bernie," starring Jack Black as an endearing mortician and well-loved member of his small-town community in Carthage, Texas, is so delightful, and rather wryly comical, it’s easy to be charmed with the picture despite its modest ambitions, small-scale aims and slight nature.

Tribeca Review: 'As Luck Would Have It' Is The Jewel Of The Fest

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 26, 2012 2:02 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Alex de la Iglesia’s “As Luck Would Have It” features, in supporting roles, Salma Hayek and Carolina Bang, two of the most ravishing and talented Spanish language actresses to ever grace the screen. Most viewers are well aware of Ms. Hayek, who has aged gracefully into Hollywood’s demeaning mother-ghetto for actresses over the age of 35. Few know of Ms. Bang, who was the centerpiece of de la Iglesia’s last film, the criminally-insane “The Last Circus.” Both command the screen with old school Hollywood glamour and mature sexuality, and yet neither manages to obscure the machinations of de la Iglesia’s sharp media satire. This, as Queen once sang long ago, is a kind of magic.

Review: 'Pirates! Band Of Misfits' Is A Treasure Trove Of Visual Wonder

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 26, 2012 12:02 PM
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In John Ortved's unauthorized oral history of "The Simpsons," he recounts how an edict was posted in the writers' room of the influential animated series. This had come down from on high, and was probably hard to follow for some of the zanier writers (Conan O'Brien, we're looking in your direction). The note said, simply: "One joke per joke." Clearly this is not something that the good folks at Aardman Animation, the Bristol, England-based animation studio behind "Wallace and Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" and last year's "Arthur Christmas" follow, because their new film, "Pirates! Band of Misfits," crams in so many jokes – visual, verbal, and otherwise – that you sometimes feel like yelling at the projectionist: "Could you pause that? Or at least slow it down?"

Review: An Unwieldy ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ Is Still Endearing, Funny & Smart

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 26, 2012 11:05 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Funny, touching and occasionally dramatic, Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s charming “The Five Year Engagement” falls just short of the modern-day comedy classic category, and yet is deeply entertaining, genuinely amusing and satisfying in the way most shaggy-dog, two-hour-plus comedies are not. Bolstered by a hilarious supporting cast and two genuinely likable leads, the Judd Apatow-produced comedy may feel a little unkempt at times, but the picture has sweet and touching notes to go with the diverting silliness.

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