The Playlist

Tribeca Review: 'Francophrenia' A Fascinating Doc/Fiction Profile Of James Franco As James Franco

  • By Brandon Harris
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  • April 23, 2012 2:04 PM
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James Franco's ongoing experimentation with the limits of his own celebrity are like little else popular culture has produced of late. While his hijinks within academia and beyond are well documented (he's working on a Film MFA at NYU and an English PhD from Yale, while being a movie star, reediting "My Own Private Idaho," writing essays for N+1 and occasionally doing some performance art with Laurel Nakadate), they come to a startling head in his "Francophrenia (Or: Don't Kill Me, I Know Where The Baby Is)," a daringly oddball collaboration with lauded documentarian Ian Olds, whose "The Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi" was a hit in Rotterdam in 2009.

Tribeca Review: 'Sleepless Night' A Deceptively Simple Thriller That Packs A Punch

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • April 23, 2012 1:03 PM
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Containment thrillers can often be limited by the landscape of their locale, but in the French film “Sleepless Night,” the nightclub where corrupt cop Vincent (Tomer Sisley) races to rescue his son is expansive enough to make it seem like a mini-mall. Writer-director Frederic Jardin somehow manages to squeeze every last drop of claustrophobia from the massive, multilevel building, even after he’s filled it wall-to-wall with clubgoers, diners, socialites, and especially the odd assortment of cops and crooks who all have a stake in Vincent’s future. Although it’s quite deservedly scheduled for an American remake via the folks at Warner Brothers, “Sleepless Night” is the kind of entertainment that requires little translation to succeed, as its characters and story are so cleanly and cleverly designed that they would work in virtually any language.

Tribeca Review: Sarah Polley's 'Take This Waltz' Has Insights And Edges Sharp Enough To Stab

  • By James Rocchi
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  • April 23, 2012 12:00 PM
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  • 2 Comments
In Sarah Polley's Toronto-set drama "Take this Waltz," Margo (Michelle Williams) stumbles across Daniel (Luke Kirby) on a business trip, only to find he lives across the street; despite being married to Lou (Seth Rogen), Margo can't stop thinking of Daniel. Or maybe it's because she's married to Lou that she can't stop thinking of Daniel … Following up "Away from Her," Polley's second film is sharply dividing critics and audience in Toronto: Many find it simultaneously exhilarating and depressing; others find it ugly and hateful; a third faction seems to be kicking against the film not for how it says what it says, but, instead, for what it says in the first place.

Tribeca Review: 'Room 514' A Talky, Lo-Fi Israeli Version Of 'A Few Good Men'

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 23, 2012 10:02 AM
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Coming off the heels of the formidable "Policeman," a harsh and damning critique of contemporary Israeli society, "Room 514" points a similar analytical eye on its country but comes up with little more than general arguments. Its overly familiar plot and substance weakens its voice and the movie almost seems like a faux-activist who can only muster up wonted statements with little unique insight. Sharon Bar-Ziv's debut is kept from sinking by its mighty performances, but its simplistic cinematic approach and oceans of dialogue seem more suited for a stage play than in a movie.

Review: 'Girls' Tackles Abortion, Sex & STDs Head On With Heart & Hilarity

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 22, 2012 11:00 PM
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  • 15 Comments
Having already established in the premiere episode that the sex in "Girls" that sex in the show (at least for now) will often be uncomfortable and awkward, the second show of season turns up the cringe factor. As the show opens, Hannah and Adam are in the midst of some fairly routine missionary sex, with the latter spicing things up with a melange of dirty talk that probably isn't fit to print here. Adam pulls out and ejaculates on Hannah's arm, and in the somewhat unsatisfying post-coitus pause, she says unconvincingly, "That was really good. That was so good....I almost came." To which Adam deadpans, "You want a Gatorade?" Welcome to "Girls."

Review: Armando Iannucci's 'Veep' Off To A Fast, Furious But Only Intermittently Funny Start

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 22, 2012 10:30 PM
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  • 7 Comments
In the midst of an election season, where politics in the United States seems to be more partisan than it ever has been, and riding on the back of the Occupy Wall Street movement that spread across the world last year, there is probably no better time for a political comedy. And for Armando Iannucci, it's territory that he's already mined to great success. British TV viewers were first acquainted with his work with the series "The Thick Of It" (which was remade by ABC for a potential series, that never made it past pilot and was disowned by Iannucci), while audiences on both sides of the pond applauded "In The Loop." HBO is the ideal home for Iannucci to make his American debut (if only to drop f-bombs, which the script does quite often), but it's shame that this debut episode is so toothless.

Tribeca Review: 'While We Were Here' Delivers The Sensuality Of The Sun-Kissed Shores Of Naples

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 22, 2012 3:57 PM
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Harkening back to Italian neo-realism, the romance of Naples is alive in "While We Were Here," the latest film from writer-director Kat Coiro. Considerably more watchable than her pratfall-driven debut "L!fe Happens," the picture is significantly more sober-minded, concerning the marriage of pretty blond Jane (Kate Bosworth) and taciturn, mature Leonard (Iddo Goldberg). They arrive in the city and, almost as if protocol, consume each other in bed. As she retreats to the lavatory, she gazes in the mirror and wraps her arm around her stomach mournfully. It's not hard to see that, while young, Jane has lost something.

Tribeca Review: Despite Myriad Celebrity Cameos 'Revenge For Jolly!' Is Excruciating

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 22, 2012 1:18 PM
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  • 40 Comments
Kudos to Brian Petsos, a bit actor who has pulled off an Orson Welles-level achievement in not only nabbing a brilliant cast to star in “Revenge For Jolly!” which he wrote, but also having the clout to save the lead role for himself. Welles did this with his talent, vision and status as a cinematic titan. Petsos, if we’re being charitable, most likely had to resort to blackmail, extortion and/or just plain bribery, as “Revenge For Jolly!” may be the most excruciating 80+ minutes you spend in a theater this year.

Tribeca Review: Abbie Cornish Shines, But The Questionable 'The Girl' Remains Ethically Dubious

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • April 22, 2012 10:24 AM
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Well-told, well-shot and featuring a strong, but restrained and internalized performance from actress Abbie Cornish, director David Riker's "The Girl" is a mannered and in-the-pocket indie drama that might be a total subdued winner if it weren't for its dubious political ideologies, an irony considering the film's DNA is clearly built on humanist tendencies. While the Australian Cornish does have mild issues with sticking the landing on her Texas accent, it's her meatiest role since the deeply underrated "Bright Star" and lesser-seen, but no less valuable indies like "Somersault" and "Candy" (the latter featuring her going toe-to-toe with Heath Ledger and giving as good as she got) and she makes the most of it.

Tribeca Review: 'Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal' An Enjoyable If Somewhat Slight Horror-Comedy

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 22, 2012 8:39 AM
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  • 0 Comments
A blunt, no-nonsense title like "Eddie: The Sleepwalking Cannibal" perfectly describes the type of movie you're going to encounter when viewing Boris Rodriguez's first narrative feature -- a weird, darkly comic tale offering little more than an enjoyable experience. While 'Eddie' could've tried a little harder to make its content more memorable, it still provides enough laughs and thrills to make for a pleasant watch.

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