The Playlist

Review: 'Lockout' Is The B-Movie You've Been Waiting For All Year

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 11, 2012 9:02 AM
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  • 7 Comments
In the futurist world of "Lockout," most deadly convicts will be confined to MS-One, a maximum security prison floating in outer space. It’s not long from now (2079, to be exact) strongly suggesting the cultural shift in our society’s interest in interstellar exploration has gone from possibly exploring other planets to merely depositing our human detritus into the galaxy’s gaping maw. It’s a good thing most of these cryosleeping convicts are deranged, irredeemable nutcases, right?

Review: Director Pablo Larrain's Continues His Dark, Comedic Preoccupation With Chile's Tainted History In 'Post Mortem'

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 10, 2012 5:58 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Where did the American Independent cinema of the '70s go, exactly? Did it fizzle and die, or did George Lucas scare it away with his mammoth sci-fi extravaganza? No one knows for sure, but there's something suspicious about the films of Chilean director Pablo Larrain. "Tony Manero," his debut feature, looked and felt like one of those movies, with a more brutal story. In fact, the main character even kind of looked like a young Al Pacino circa "Panic at Needle Park" or "Dog Day Afternoon." The story was political, focusing on Chile during the Pinochet regime, but the director was smart enough to let it play in the background while the main character did his own thing, that being a disco John Travolta impression. No preachy dialogue, no condescending messages. It wasn't a perfect film, but it was a new, skilled director slamming his arms on the table and ordering everyone to take notice. Unfortunately, the film was moderately embraced by critics and mostly wallowed in relative obscurity. A mere 2 years later, the director has decided to attack again with "Post Mortem," a refined and more understated piece, with the same style and code of ethics of his former film.

Review: Uneven Documentary ‘Hit So Hard’ Can’t Decide If It’s A Patty Schemel Portrait Or Hole Alt-Rock Examination

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 10, 2012 2:57 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Patty Schemel is best remembered as the drummer of the alternative rock group Hole, fronted by erstwhile alt-queen rocker, now-notorious loudmouth Courtney Love. For top level context, Schemel laid the thunderous beat on both of Hole’s most popular and well-known records, including 1994’s Live Through This, which was released just four days after frontwoman Courtney Love's husband, Kurt Cobain, was found dead in their home. This is all well-documented. What only the most hardcore of rock aficionados will remember was that Schemel’s drum parts on 1997’s follow-up record Celebrity Skin were replaced by a session drummer at the behest of producer Michael Beinhorn (knob-twiddler for records like Soundgarden's Superunknown, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Mother's Milk and Grave Dancers Union by Soul Asylum).

Review: 'Here' With Ben Foster Is A Punishingly Slow Film With Little Substance Or Soul

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 10, 2012 2:57 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Despite naturalistic performances by leads Ben Foster and Lubna Azabal ("Incendies," "Coriolanus") and impressive cinematography by Lol Crawley ("Ballast," "Four Lions"), Braden King's "Here" is a maundering relationship movie with few stakes and even less to say.

Review: 'The Lady' A Glossy, Poignant But Ultimately Underwhelming Portrait Of Pro-Democracy Activist Aung San Suu Kyi

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • April 10, 2012 2:00 PM
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  • 2 Comments
If there’s one thing that Luc Besson proved with “The Messenger,” it’s that his melodramatic, spectacle-laden sensibility is not particularly well-suited to serious or credible stories. Nevertheless, the director mostly abets himself of making the same mistakes twice with “The Lady,” a poignant if underwhelming portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi, a Burmese expat who became a pro-democracy activist in the late 1980s, as Rangoon struggled under the tyranny of a totalitarian military regime. Aided by terrific performances by David Thewlis and especially Michelle Yeoh as Suu Kyi, Besson’s “The Lady” is a glossy prestige picture that’s appropriately inspiring, but some may find its stiff-lipped nobility slightly too bloodless to leave a lasting impression.

Review: 'The Samaritan' Never Quite Overcomes Its Audacious, Questionable Twist

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 9, 2012 4:57 PM
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  • 8 Comments
It's difficult to discuss "The Samaritan" without revealing the noted plot turn nearly halfway through, but consider this an attempt. The Canadian thriller, currently available on VOD, concerns an ex-con named Foley. Foley's lost twenty five years in prison after murdering his partner, a decision borne out of Foley regretfully picking his own poison in a life-or-death situation. Living with the memory of killing his close associate and the idea that he essentally gave up a quarter of a century to live, Foley is unstuck in time, visiting his old stomping grounds the way the guilty frequent graveyards.

Review: 'Your Brother. Remember?' A Touching Trip Down Memory Lane

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 5, 2012 12:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Normally, something like Zachary Oberzan's “Flooding With Love for the Kid” is a concept to be scoffed at: the director, in the tiny confines of his apartment, adapted the novel “Rambo” was based on and played all of the characters himself. It sounds crude and generally unimpressive; a novelty destined for YouTube and nothing more. But ‘Flooding’ contains too much love, depth, and dedication to be so easily dismissed -- and though it likely still has its detractors (think of how many frustrated filmmakers bubbled with jealous ire), critics and audiences were tickled with Oberzan’s ability to not only nail the essence of childhood playtime, but to compose legitimately affecting sequences (you’ll laugh, you’ll cry) with so few resources.

Review: 'We The Party' Is An Overly Familiar Teen Romp That Tries To Be Something More

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 5, 2012 10:15 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"We the Party" has a poster that makes it look like a more urban entry in the popular "Step Up" franchise, but is hilariously tagged as being "From the Director of 'New Jack City,'" a movie that most of the cast and pretty much anyone they're targeting to watch the movie, have either forgotten about entirely or never seen because it's too fucking old. It is, however, quite evocative of "We the Party," a movie that tries to be edgier, more outrageous, and (oddly) more socially conscious than most teen movies, but ends up being just as tired and cliché (if not more so), combining familiar beats from every high school flick imaginable and shellacking them in the tired aesthetics of 1990s music videos.

Review: 'American Reunion' Is A Stale Slice Of 'Pie' That Coasts On Nostalgia & Cameos

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 4, 2012 6:05 PM
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  • 9 Comments
“American Reunion” begins with the franchise’s typical sexual misunderstanding played for casual sitcom laughs. Married couple Jim (Jason Biggs) and Michelle (Alyson Hannigan) are preparing for bedtime when she excuses herself to take a late night bath. Without saying a word, Jim watches her leave before visiting bookmarked porn sites on his laptop computer, pleasing himself with a sock filled with what can only be considered an excessive amount of lubrication. Through a few prepackaged pratfalls too implausible to properly explain, Jim and Michelle’s pre-pubescent son learns that Mommy and Daddy had been pleasuring themselves in separate rooms, and lack the self-awareness to properly shield themselves when caught. The camera stays fixed on the silent milieu of an embarrassed Michelle shrinking underneath the bubbles in her bathtub, and Jim clenching the bleeding tip of his crotch, the two of them separated by a shower handle excitedly dancing across the tiles. It is quite possibly the saddest opening scene in recent studio comedy history.

Review: 'ATM' Is An Impossibly Implausible, Hilariously Bad B-Movie

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • April 4, 2012 5:16 PM
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  • 27 Comments
Cheap, slapped-together run-of-the-mill B-movie thrillers are a dime a dozen. And their egregiousness is often not worthy of outrage or scorn because frequently the films are made on the cheap with a knowing eye towards making a buck with direct-to-DVD sales or foreign markets that don’t care about quality. Everyone is professional and yet (very) aware they’re not making art.

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