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The Playlist

Review: 'The Man With The Iron Fists' A Noble, But Overstuffed First Effort From RZA

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 1, 2012 10:03 AM
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  • 8 Comments
“I’m the baddest man alive,” goes the chorus for one of the many hip hop songs in “The Man With The Iron Fists,” the directorial debut of RZA. The director is actually the subject of the song, as he plays the title character, a blacksmith seeking revenge for being wronged by a group of villains who sweep into China’s rowdy Jungle Village. But at a certain point, you have to wonder: why is he so bad? RZA, who has logged hours within the supporting casts of “American Gangster,” “Ghost Dog: Way Of The Samurai” and “Due Date,” plays the taciturn weapons maker with the same dour expression that suggests a dullard, which RZA certainly doesn’t seem to be. As a musician and lyricist, he is without peer, but as a leading man, his face hangs like Snoopy, his voice monotone and highlighting none of the musicality of his rhymes. That being said, the movie isn’t called “The Man With The Iron Charisma.”

Review: ‘The Details’ Is An Inconsistent But Entertaining Dark Comedy

  • By Cory Everett
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  • October 30, 2012 4:10 PM
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  • 1 Comment
“The Details” is one of those dark comedies where everything that can go wrong does. The sophomore film from Jacob Aaron Estes, whose previous film “Mean Creek” won the John Cassavetes Award at Sundance in 2004, was the biggest sale of the 2011, purchased by The Weinstein Company for $8 million. Of the dozen movies this writer saw while he was at the fest, it was one of the more accessible, but didn’t exactly ring of “Little Miss Sunshine”-like success either. The film stars Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Banks as Jeff and Nealy Lang, young parents who have hit a rough patch in their marriage. Jeff is a doctor, Nealy is an interior decorator and while it’s probably neither’s fault, the passion has clearly gone out of their relationship, the image of the happy suburban couple is immediately shattered by a screaming match between the couple during the opening credits.

Savannah Fest Review: Contemporary Approach & Old Fashioned Message Clash In Rom-Com 'Missed Connections'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 30, 2012 10:02 AM
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  • 0 Comments
That chance encounter, or the moment of love at first sight -- these have been the familiar building blocks of romantic comedies for decades, not to mention that New York City is a common backdrop against which these stories can play out. And yet, both audiences and filmmakers remain drawn to these tales, eager to see two people overcome personal, professional and/or social pressures to find a fairytale ending. However, in a genre as well traveled as this, finding a fresh angle isn't easy, but co-writer and director Martin Snyder gives it a whirl with "Missed Connections." While the online/social media twist doesn't absolve the film's many cliches and questionable moral lesson, the committed performances do at least highlight some talented folks worth looking out for down the road.

Scary Movies 6: 'Maniac' Remake Is A Perversely Pleasurable Mixture Of Pop Psychology And Slasher Movie Sleaze

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 29, 2012 11:10 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Of course Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur, the dirtbag auteurs that turned Joe Dante's gleeful "Jaws" send up "Piranha" into "Piranha 3D," a hilarious, excessively violent screed about American over-indulgence, would spearhead a remake of 1980's "Maniac," a notoriously misogynistic Bill Lustig horror movie whose poster, featuring a man holding the bloody scalp of a young woman, still elicits cries of outrage. Most filmmakers would be too scared to approach the material; it practically glows it's so toxic. But when thinking about these two, who also turned Wes Craven's backwoods horror romp "The Hills Have Eyes" into an angry, gore-soaked metaphor for Bush-era American intervention and culpability, well, why the fuck wouldn't they, really?

Review: 'Dust Up' Is A Hipster Apocalypse Western, Like Alex Cox Doing 'Mad Max'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 26, 2012 1:02 PM
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  • 3 Comments
No budget, no problem. The seams show often in “Dust Up,” an unapologetically silly action comedy that feels as if it was produced entirely from the loose change found on all of Brooklyn’s collective bar tops. Complimenting the jaunty original score and songs from Spindrift and Gram Rabbit are stock soundtrack cues like a soaring eagle, crashing glass, and what sounds like the loudest punches ever recorded for a film, even when delivered by hundred-pound weaklings.
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Review: ‘Silent Hill: Revelation’ A Silly, Artless & Depressing Sequel

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 26, 2012 11:46 AM
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  • 2 Comments
The problem with movies based on video games (or movies that try to capture the video game experience) is that they always come across like watching someone else play a video game. These movies might have budget-pushing effects and plotlines that mimic the follow-the-clues narrative of most games, but they never succeed in bringing the viewer into a fantastical, wholly imagined world in quite the same way. “Silent Hill: Revelation,” based on a series of Japanese horror survival games about a spooky town filled with ghostly apparitions, is one step worse than most of these video game movies. It feels less like a game and more like what happens when you leave your PlayStation on and it becomes a kind of dim screensaver. If we had a controller in our hand, we would probably throw it at the screen.

Review: 'Wreck-It-Ralph' Has A Great Concept But Fails To Level Up Into Something Unique

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 26, 2012 10:57 AM
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  • 10 Comments
Certainly, in some quarters, anticipation for Disney's "Wreck-It-Ralph" was high. With Pixar stuck in sequel mode, and with their original story "Brave" underwhelming this summer, many wondered if the Mouse House would step it up where their colleagues dropped the ball. With a seemingly fresh premise, new tunes by Skrillex and Owl City pimped on the soundtrack, nostalgia for the adults and a glossy adventure for the kids, the ingredients all seemed to be in place. Which makes it that much more frustrating that once you pop the quarter into the machine of "Wreck-It-Ralph," it reveals itself to be nothing more than a familiar formula dressed up in 21st century clothes.

Review: Not So 'Fun Size' Doesn't Know The Audience It Wants

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 26, 2012 9:58 AM
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  • 2 Comments
While you can debate the merits of "The O.C.," "Gossip Girl" and "Chuck," it can't be argued that writer/producer Josh Schwartz knows how to zero in on a target audience and cater to them specifically and successfully. Generally, his most lucrative milieu is in providing tweenage girls lukewarm TV soap operas, where beauitful people, get into rich people trouble, usually accompanied by high fashion and hip soundtracks. So it's easy to see why Nickelodean Movies were eager to harness his skills for an "Adventures In Babysitting" meets "Superbad" picture presumably for that demographic. But the resulting movie hardly approaches the pleasure of those films, with a result that is so tonally off balance, that it feels like the result of too many meetings with executives trying to figure out how to make a four-quadrant hit.

Review: Uninventive U.K. ‘Pusher’ Remake Offers Typically Stylized Drug Psychosis & Nothing More

  • By Edward Davis
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  • October 26, 2012 9:00 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Indulge us for a moment. Nicolas Winding Refn's "Pusher" trilogy was never meant to be a triptych, let alone a multi-language spawning remake series (there has already been a U.K. produced, Hindi language version). Refn's original "Pusher" gained critical acclaim more than 15 years ago in Denmark, but the now celebrated director faltered badly on his follow-up picture "Fear X." He refinanced his home to guarantee it was completed properly and then went bankrupt when the film turned out to be a flop.

Review: 'Cloud Atlas' Is Bold, Messy & Disappointingly Unimaginative

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 25, 2012 6:32 PM
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  • 24 Comments
With The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer literally throwing a critic off the roof of a building to his death in the opening moments of the nearly three-hour "Cloud Atlas," it's clear that they aren't concerned in the slightest with how this ambitious effort will be received. And you certainly have to give the trio of directors some respect for their approach, which tag teams an all-star cast, gives them multiple roles and spreads the story across nearly a half dozen time periods. But for all their boldness in narrative approach, the adaptation of David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas" is also a mess, with an attempt to mix its various genres under a universal thematic banner that never quite coheres.

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