The Playlist

Review: '4:44: Last Day On Earth' Envisions The Apocalypse Without Much Imagination

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 22, 2012 5:56 PM
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  • 1 Comment
There's something very wrong in Abel Ferrara's "4:44: Last Day On Earth." The world, as the title would suggest, is coming to an end, and Ferrara, the fuck-you auteur behind "King of New York" and the non-Nic Cage-adorned "Bad Lieutenant," is content with keeping things inside a spacious apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There aren't any fireballs ascending heavenward, or steely buildings splintering into a million computer generated pieces. The anguish here isn't global, but personal, and instead of millions of people, Ferrara zeroes in on an arty couple, played by Willem Dafoe (channeling his "Antichrist" persona of earnest concern, except with more levity and less genital mutilation) and the young Shanyn Leigh.

Review: 'The Deep Blue Sea' A Beautiful, Woozy & Heartbreaking Tale Of Intense Passion

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 22, 2012 4:56 PM
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  • 1 Comment
What is love, and what is its worth? That's the burning question at the core of "The Deep Blue Sea" the latest from British master Terence Davies, a drama that burns with a blue flame intensity that is deeply beautiful and shattering all at once.

Review: 'The Trouble With Bliss' A Low-Key, No-Stakes Dramedy With Little Pull

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 21, 2012 9:59 AM
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  • 0 Comments
When we first meet Morris Bliss (Michael C. Hall), he's in his bed enjoying some post-coital time with Stephanie (Brie Larson), a much younger high-school student. It's late in the afternoon and Morris is eager to usher Stephanie out of the house before his father Danny (Peter Fonda) comes home, but the attractive Stephanie knows that she wields the upper hand in the sexual dynamic and drags things out, peppering her middle aged lover with questions. We learn that he dreams of traveling to the places he's read about in books, with his destinations already pinned on a map. And through their banter, Morris is shocked to learn that Stephanie is actually the daughter of a former classmate. Now while ordinarily that might seem like a big deal, as we soon learn in "The Trouble With Bliss," Morris' "troubles" just really aren't all that serious.
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SXSW '12 Review: 'Sun Don't Shine' Is A Watercolor Wisp Hybrid Of An Indie Relationship Pic & Murder Mystery Movie

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 20, 2012 2:56 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Early on in Amy Seimetz’s “Sun Don’t Shine,” it becomes very clear that this isn’t just your average young-white-couple-with-relationship-problems-on-a-road-trip indie flick that we can come to expect from festivals like SXSW. Oh, Crystal and Leo have problems alright. And a bad relationship. And a road trip to go on. But the one very big problem that lies at the crux of “Sun Don’t Shine” is rotting in their trunk. That pretty much eclipses the “who else have you slept with” conversations they might have (but they’ll have those too).

SXSW '12 Review: 'Sunset Strip' Is A Definitive History & Tribute To The Famed Street That Loses Sight Of Its Purpose

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 20, 2012 1:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
For most, the phrase “Sunset Strip” conjures up images of neon lights, sun-kissed exposed skin and long, druggy, rock and roll fueled nights. This is the conceit promised by the new documentary of the same name by Hans Fjellestad, and it (mostly) delivers, offering up a definitive history of the famed street, that is hindered only by a confusion of purpose and a loose structure.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Beware Of Mr. Baker' Is A Rollicking, Dangerous & Ultimately Transcendent Ride With Cream Drummer Ginger Baker

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 20, 2012 12:43 PM
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  • 0 Comments
This year’s SXSW had a few strong themes running throughout its selections, and in the documentary category, this was seen in the numerous films about '70s rock icons such as “Paul Williams: Still Alive,” “Marley,” the preview of “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” and heck, even “Bad Brains: A Band in DC” fits into this category. But the Documentary Feature winning film, “Beware of Mr. Baker,” about Cream drummer Ginger Baker, certainly earned its award, as it blows those other (quite remarkable) films out of the water, starting with one vicious rap to the nose.

SXSW '12 Preview: 'Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me' Looks To Be A Fitting Tribute, Memorial & Education About One of Rock's Cult Acts

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 20, 2012 12:00 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Last week during SXSW, director Drew DiNicola gave an excited Austin audience a preview of his work-in-progress film “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” before a star-studded tribute concert to the beloved cult band Big Star. It was an appropriate environment for the sneak peek, as SXSW 2010 served as a de facto memorial for deceased lead singer Alex Chilton, when he unexpectedly passed away from a heart attack just three days before a scheduled appearance at the festival. SXSW Festival Producer Janet Pierson mentioned in her introduction of the film that because it was such an emotionally relevant film to the SXSW audience, she wanted to show it in any form at this year’s fest and would take it as a work-in-progress. And going by the unfinished cut, the movie is destined to be a seminal rock doc in the canon, and one that will bring Big Star to a new generation of fans.

Counterpoint Review: 'The Raid: Redemption' Adds A Little Bit Of Steroids To The Same Martial Arts Film You've Seen Twice Before

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 20, 2012 10:56 AM
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  • 10 Comments
After much hype and love from the festival circuit, "The Raid: Redemption" begins rolling out into theaters this weekend. And while we saw the film at Sundance and called it a "triumph" not everyone at The Playlist office felt the same way. So here's a different take on the pulse pounding action flick.

Counterpoint Review: 'The Hunger Games' Is A Tired, Overlong Blockbuster Lacking Flair & Imagination

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 20, 2012 9:03 AM
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  • 42 Comments
With "The Hunger Games" arriving in theaters this weekend and expected to blow up the box office, early reviews have been very positive and anticipation has been running high. Our own review called it "an engaging, thoughtful, populist piece of entertainment that transcends gender, genre or source material." But not everyone in The Playlist camp felt the same. Here's a counterpoint review of the film that offers up a wholly different assessment of the upcoming franchise starter.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Eden' Is A Gripping Sex Slavery Drama That Isn't As Dour As It Sounds

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 19, 2012 4:46 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Often the problem when making an "issue" movie, wherein you tackle some far-reaching social, systemic, or religious injustice, is that scope often becomes too burdensome, with the given topic often begging for thoughtful, intimate conversation and not the broad strokes that cinema offers. The best issue movies, things like Steven Soderbergh's multi-layered "Traffic," make the central concern seem both universal and incredibly personal, often setting aside crass moralization (the stuff "Crash" was mired in – hey, racism still exists, everybody!) for actual entertainment. "Eden," the Narrative Feature winner at South by Southwest, similarly tackles the issue of sex slavery, but it does so in a way that never feels too clumsy or overarching. Instead, it's a character study with thriller elements; it exposes you to a horrible underworld without ever beating you over the head with it.

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