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The Playlist

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.
More: Review

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.

Review: 'Taken 2' Promises The Same Plate, Less Flavor, Smaller Servings

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 4, 2012 7:00 PM
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  • 3 Comments
There’s diminishing returns, and then there’s “Taken 2,” the next, and probably last installment of the “Taken” franchise. Of course, it’s a piece of a whole, only the latest in the body of work from producer Luc Besson (again sharing screenwriting duties with Robert Mark Kamen). But Besson’s intriguing late-career activity as a producer of savvy action trash reaches it’s nadir in this monotone punch-fest that is tirelessly rote in it’s stubborn desire to refuse any sense of ingenuity.

Review: 'V/H/S' A Solidly Delivered Horror Anthology That Brings The Thrills

  • By William Goss
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  • October 4, 2012 6:04 PM
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  • 1 Comment
When compared to the pristine picture quality of Blu-ray, the VHS format is a decrepit, grungy thing, so how better to make an anthology of grimy spook stories than to embrace that aesthetic all-around, as "V/H/S" does? Made up of six found-footage style segments – few of which actually attempt to replicate the look of old tape, but all of which have their distinct variations in interference and texture – it’s a film consumed with bad deeds recorded and recovered, helmed by a who’s-who of current genre mavens and delivered with a good sense of playfulness around concepts and conceits generally exploited to lure in the gullible masses for the sake of a single opening weekend.
More: V/H/S, Review

Review: 'Butter' Tries To Carve Up Edgy Laughs But Goes Soft By The End

  • By James Rocchi
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  • October 4, 2012 5:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
A political satire set in the competitive world of butter-carving at the Iowa State Fair, the script for "Butter" was so ballyhooed and praised that it wound up on The Black List, the annual underground buzz list of unproduced screenplays based on a straw poll of agents, development executives and insiders. (As a side note, we must say that The Black List is only interesting as a barometer of quality insofar as you trust agents, development executives and insiders to be able to tell good from bad, which much of Hollywood's output suggests is not actually the case.)

Review: 'The Oranges' Is Dated, Schtick-Reliant Suburban Satire

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 4, 2012 4:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
There’s another era that would have welcomed the chaste suburban sex comedy “The Oranges.” In an earlier time, this mock-revealing story of two families coming apart due to infidelity would have seemed appalling, transgressive. Perhaps as a low-heat exploitation picture threatening to expose the chaos and lack of identity underneath the perfect suburban exterior. Maybe as a sobering drama about two groups of adults at an impasse between the intensity of their feelings, and the acceptable social mores which they must battle. But you review the movie that you’ve gotten, and “The Oranges” is neither of these films.

Hamptons Film Fest Review: 'Decoding Deepak' Is A Warm & Fuzzy (But Not Exactly Illuminating) Look At A Beloved Guru

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 4, 2012 3:18 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The first few moments of the mercifully brief "Decoding Deepak" (it runs a scant 74 minutes) promise something intriguing. In the opening few scenes, the movie teases a look at Deepak Chopra, the spiritual advisor and self-help guru who has written something like sixty books and helped lead the rich and powerful towards existential oneness, not through some detached, analytical third-party lens, but from first hand knowledge, since the filmmaker/narrator/co-star is Chopra's son, Gotham. Is Deepak a fraud, the genuine article, or something in between? If anyone could figure it out, it's his son and heir to ChopraCorp. Sadly, while it is entertaining in spots and certainly heartfelt, "Decoding Deepak" favors glazed-over generalities over any actual introspection.

NYFF Review: 'Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries And Mentors Of Ricky Jay' Is A Deeply Magical Biography of the Illusionist

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 4, 2012 2:04 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Nowadays, with the abundance and popularity of fantasy literature and cinema, when someone says "magic," they immediately conjure images of entrenched warlocks and fire-breathing dragons. The art and performance of practical magic – things like card tricks and making stuff disappear – has faded into the background, unless you stumble upon one of those neverending loops of David Blaine specials on cable or remember how David Copperfield was once one of America's most popular celebrities (he did have great hair). But as "Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay," an intriguing (if intermittently stuffy) biography of a true master magician, shows – practical magic can be just as thrilling as anything you see on "Game of Thrones."

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