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The Playlist

Venice Review: Harmony Korine's 'Spring Breakers' Is A Semi-Conventional Genre Flick & Future Cult Favorite

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 4, 2012 4:58 PM
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  • 12 Comments
This will make you feel old: it has been 18 years since Harmony Korine wrote “Kids” at the age of 21, with the Larry Clark directed film proving to be something of a firecracker in the midst of mid-90s indie cinema, by turns controversial, seedy, and honest. Korine made his own directorial debut with 1998’s “Gummo,” and over the last 15 or so years has made films that (with the possible exception of “Mister Lonely”), push aesthetic & critical boundaries further and further, culminating in 2009’s “Trash Humpers,” a film shot on a VHS camcorder, featuring a cast in old-people masks generally trying to provoke the audience into walking out. So where could he possibly go from there?

Venice Review: Kim Ki-Duk's 'Pieta' Is A Bruising Mother-Son Relationship Drama That Ultimately Disappoints

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 4, 2012 3:45 PM
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  • 1 Comment
With only a few days left of the Venice Film Festival, no clear front-runner has emerged to pick up the Golden Lion. “The Master” is probably the best-received film to date, but festival juries often shy away from the most obvious pick. “To The Wonder,” “At Any Price” and “Fill The Void” all have their fans, but all received raucous booing at critics screenings. The best movies have premiered out of competition, and many films seem like non-starters. But the best reaction we’ve heard to date across our week on the Lido came last night from abrasive, confrontational Korean director Kim Ki-Duk's “Pieta.”

Venice Review: 'A Hijacking' Is A Detailed, Gripping & Powerful High-Seas Hostage Tale

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 4, 2012 2:18 PM
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  • 9 Comments
As exciting as it can be to be one of the audience at the first public screening of an eagerly anticipated film – the new Paul Thomas Anderson or Terrence Malick, the new Rian Johnson or David O. Russell – perhaps the purest pleasure that can be found at a film festival is that of discovery. Picking something semi-randomly from the program, something with no A-listers, and no internationally renowned filmmaker at the helm, and walking out a couple of hours later feeling that you’ve uncovered a gem, and been one oft the first to find a director who could be a major talent to watch.

Venice Review: 'Linhas De Wellington' Is A Handsome But Middling Tribute To The Late Raúl Ruiz

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 4, 2012 1:37 PM
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  • 3 Comments
If you had to pick the final film to be completed after a forty-year career of over one hundred films, you’d certainly hope for one as masterful as “Mysteries Of Lisbon,” the four-hour 2010 epic that proved to be the last completed directorial effort from Chilean-born, French-settled filmmaker Raúl Ruiz. An internationally acclaimed Portugese-language costume drama, it’s one of the richest films of the last few years, and one that certainly served as a fitting crowning accomplishment.

Telluride Review: 'Hyde Park On Hudson' Is A Lightweight & Toothless Crowd-Pleaser

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • September 4, 2012 8:59 AM
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  • 5 Comments
At 61 years of age, the presumably hard-living Bill Murray conservatively only has two more decades of work left in him. So perhaps we all want him to really dazzle us with some meaty roles and not waste his time with middling fluff like Roger Michell's "Hyde Park on Hudson," a moderately pleasant but depthless picture that makes "The King's Speech" look like "A Clockwork Orange." OK, that's a purposeful exaggeration, but "Hyde Park on Hudson" is unremarkable; the type of would-be Oscar fluff that makes sure it goes down the award season check list for every gentle and inoffensive cinematic element it can find.

Venice Review: 'Blondie' A Promising Swedish Family Drama That Gets Less Interesting As It Goes On

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 3, 2012 6:15 PM
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  • 1 Comment
For millennia now, the idea of three sisters has been a potent one in myth and literature. From the Fates of Greek legend to the witches in “Macbeth” to Olya, Masha and Marina in Chekov’s play, the theme recurs across civilizations, with mountain ranges and rivers named some variation on ‘three sisters’ the world over.

Venice Review: ‘Disconnect’ Is ‘Crash’ For The Web Era, And Even More Dismal Than That Sounds

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 3, 2012 1:35 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Many writers say they prefer not start the writing process with a theme in mind – they simply let it emerge organically from their plot or characters. But then, plenty of films have gone the other way. The multi-stranded, interconnected drama revolving around a particular subject or theme, like Steven Soderbergh’s take on the war on drugs in “Traffic,” or Paul Thomas Anderson’s examination of coincidence and happenstance in “Magnolia,” have proved particularly popular in recent years. And given that they garlanded financial and critical success, it makes sense that others have set out to follow in their footsteps.

Venice Review: Olivier Assayas’ ‘Something In The Air’ A Gorgeous Autobiography Marred By Underdeveloped Characters

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 3, 2012 11:33 AM
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  • 0 Comments
He’s been something of a critical favorite for a while now, but after making the hugely acclaimed “Summer Hours” and the acclaimed TV miniseries/theatrical marathon “Carlos” within a few years of each other, French filmmaker Olivier Assayas has firmly cemented himself as one of the more exciting directors in world cinema, after 25 years as a director.

Telluride Review: Michael Winterbottom’s ‘Everyday’ Is Uneven, But Emotionally Rewarding

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • September 3, 2012 9:39 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The ultra prolific British helmer Michael Winterbottom has now made twenty films since his debut, “Butterfly Kiss,” in 1995. His eclectic creative appetites and peripatetic energy has seen the restless director take on a disparate array of projects from moody sci-fi ("Code 46"), pulpy noir ("The Killer Inside Me"), a post-modern music-scene saga ("24 Hour Party People") a western ("The Claim") and many, many more genres including documentaries as well.

Review: 'Anna Karenina' Is A Bold Reimagining Of A Classic That's (Mostly) Thrilling & Inventive

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 2, 2012 7:53 PM
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  • 36 Comments
When it was announced that Joe Wright was going to direct a new film version of Leo Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina," starring his cinematic muse Keira Knightley, most people probably knew what to expect. After all, the two had collaborated on both Wright's debut "Pride & Prejudice" and "Atonement" (both also produced by Working Title Films) and it was easy to assume that their take on the Russian classic would be along similar lines; a handsome period piece taking advantage of the best British actors available, and with a few showy camera touches that would set it apart from your average costume drama.

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