The Playlist

Tribeca Review: 'Nancy, Please' Showcases The Worst Nightmare Of The Timid Grad Student

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 24, 2012 4:25 PM
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  • 1 Comment
We've all known people like Nancy. The title character of Andrew Semans' "Nancy, Please" is a real pill, dark eyes, slumped shoulders, and an eternal pout. There's always drama in Nancy's life, and she's always expressing it physically. She's always impetuous, always difficult, and frequently nasty, as if lashing out not against a single person but the world at large. In spite of it all, her punk sneer and angular sensuality is also sharp like a knife, tight like a fist. And for young potential PhD Paul, she is an out-and-out boogeyman.

Tribeca Review: 'Searching For Sugar Man' An Entertaining, Touching & Revealing Look At Forgotten Pop Singer Rodriguez

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • April 24, 2012 12:59 PM
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  • 1 Comment
If every Sundance film festival needs at least one documentary to remind white people of all the great music in the world they don’t know about, at least “Searching For Sugar Man” seems like 2012’s front-runner for the best one. A born crowd-pleaser whose central mystery begets a great triumph of grace and modesty, Malik Bendjelloul’s documentary about forgotten-before-he-was-known folk-pop singer Rodriguez is a hugely entertaining, emotionally touching, and musically revelatory experience.

Tribeca Review: Keanu Reeves Doc 'Side By Side' A Treat For Cinephiles On All Sides Of The Digital Debate

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • April 24, 2012 11:39 AM
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  • 6 Comments
Doing an impressive job of tracing the evolution of filmmaking technology (not just the cameras but the editing, post-production, distribution, exhibition, even the archiving aspects of it) from 1895 to the present day, “Side by Side” is an old school talking-head documentary on the subject of digital filmmaking vs. photochemical filmmaking. It sounds pretty dull as a logline, but stacked with gossipy, informal anecdotes and opinions from many of the most respected directors, cinematographers, editors, execs, VFX artists and digital wizards in the industry, it proves instead to be highly entertaining and informative, and by its close has presented a thoroughly diverting overview of the debate. Then again, we are massive geeks about this sort of thing.

Review: Twisty, Action-Packed NYC Noir 'Safe' Is The Finest Jason Statham Actioner Yet

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 24, 2012 10:59 AM
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  • 9 Comments
The de-evolution of the modern b-action movie is disheartening. The genre has been bisected by traditionalists and new-school practitioners. The old-school, red meat types like Sylvester Stallone and their ilk believe that real men doing real stunts and delivering brutal blows is the way to go, big tough guys in big tough situations, without any youngbloods or fancy gizmos. The more contemporary action filmmaker, however, spikes the punch, utilizing heavy-duty CGI to turn Tobey Maguire into Dolph Lundgren, Cameron Diaz into Jackie Chan. Neither side seems to understand that you don't need to be Dostoyevsky to infuse the same old tropes with just a little respect for characters, stories, suspense, and high stakes. It's the story, stupid. Believe in it.

Tribeca Review: 'Persepolis' Follow-Up 'Chicken With Plums' Is Amiable & Pretty, But Twee & Thin

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 24, 2012 10:40 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It can be difficult to shift from animation to live-action direction; the processes are very different, and even an accomplished animation helmer can sometimes be undone once they're faced with cameras, actors and the breakneck schedule of a feature film shoot, as opposed to the multi-year process that produces a feature cartoon. Some have managed it, Tim Burton being the most obvious example (at first, anyway...) and Pixar dons Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton are both hoping to make the leap in the next few months. But it's got to be even harder to go from working in graphic novels, to animation, to live-action, but that's been the path for Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud in the last few years.

Tribeca Review: The Deeply Insufferable 'Giant Mechanical Man' Is Quintessential Indie Film Hell

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 24, 2012 9:01 AM
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  • 25 Comments
There’s a special sort of Hell where films like “The Giant Mechanical Man” play, with the same ideas and tropes repeated around the clock, with the mistaken assumption that they’re endearing or, even worse, adorable. It’s the sort of picture that gives independent films a bad name, the type of film that invites jackholes coming out of “Transformers 7” to say, “I ain’t seeing that faggy indie shit!” In reality, there’s a very good chance “Transformers 7” could very well be less obnoxious than “The Giant Mechnical Man.”

Tribeca Review: ESPN Doc ‘Benji’ Is A Tragic Portrait Of Promising Hoop Dreams Unfulfilled

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 23, 2012 4:58 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Something that all hardcore sports fans, but cinephiles may not be fully aware of: ESPN’s “30 For 30” series of documentaries on various touchstone moments in sports history are all by and large, riveting and dramatic pieces of work worth watching regardless if you’re a sports fan are not. While that particular series, which was by co-conceived by ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, is now over, the range of talent it secured, directors like Spike Lee, Richard Linklater, Barry Levinson, Steve James ("Hoop Dreams"), Peter Berg, Barry Levinson, was no joke (the Zimbalist brothers' "The Two Escobars,” being one of this writer’s absolute favorites; a terrifically gripping documentary).

SFIFF Review: 'The Fourth Dimension' A Mostly Humorous Collection Of Shorts With Harmony Korine's Most Comically Focused Effort To Date

  • By Sean Gillane
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  • April 23, 2012 4:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Last Friday night, the San Francisco International Film Festival hosted the world premiere of “The Fourth Dimension,” a production born out of a partnership between Vice Films and Grolsch Film Works.

Tribeca Review: 'Freaky Deaky' Is A 1970s-Set Farce Where The Afros Outnumber The Laughs

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 23, 2012 3:21 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Just when you thought filmmakers had milked every gag possible from setting a movie in the 1970s, along comes writer/director Charles Matthau to prove that theory correct in the moribund Elmore Leonard adaptation “Freaky Deaky.” Though the source material takes place in 1988, Matthau heard the call of polyester and fur and answered be relocating the film to the seventies, resulting in a film drowning in cornball aesthetics, extravagant living room furniture, funk music out of a bad porno and loud fashion under the guise of mise en scene.

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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  • 0 Comments
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.

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