The Playlist

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.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Citadel' Is A Sometimes Scary, Sometimes Silly Entry In the Hoodie Horror Sub-Genre

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 19, 2012 1:20 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Over the last few years an interesting subgenre has developed in British horror – dubbed "hoodie horror" by the press and named after the young, urban kids who wear hooded sweatshirts – these films were set primarily in England's low income housing "estates" and played up the fears of "Broken Britain," a term coined by conservative newspaper The Sun, to describe the country's perceived social and moral bankruptcy. Everything from the Michael Caine revenge thriller "Harry Brown" to last year's gleeful South by Southwest smash "Attack the Block" have used elements of this subgenre. "Citadel," which just won the Midnight award at South by Southwest, further explores the fears and anxieties of urban Britain (and Ireland), and the results are sometimes scary, sometimes silly, and always politically questionable.

Review: 'Gimme The Loot' Is A Heartfelt But Dull Look At Two Teen Graffiti Artists

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 16, 2012 3:41 PM
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Throughout "Gimme the Loot," you'll ask yourself the following question: why is this movie called "Gimme the Loot?" Then it becomes clear: if the movie were authentically named, it would probably be called "Bomb the Apple," since the two main characters (Tysheeb Hickson and Tashiana R. Washington) are young graffiti artists looking to tag (or "bomb") the giant apple that comes out after players hit a home run at CitiField (formerly Shea Stadium, which it's referred to as here).

SXSW '12 Review: 'Bay Of All Saints' An Honest Exploration Of The Communities Of The Waterfront Slums In Brazil

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 16, 2012 1:43 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Winner of of the Documentary Feature Audience Award at SXSW, "Bay of All Saints," directed by Annie Eastman, is an affecting little gem of a documentary, a look inside a world very different from our own, in the waterfront slums of Bahia, Brazil. These slums aren't so much waterfront as they are in the water, shacks made of salvaged planks and stilts, swaying in an ocean of garbage. Known as palafitas, people have been creating homes there for 60 years, filling in the sea underneath their houses with bags of trash; creating land with refuse where there was none and then claiming it as their own.

SXSW '12: 'Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots' Is An Explosive Chronicle of A Pivotal Moment In Our Nation's History

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 16, 2012 1:21 PM
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  • 1 Comment
"Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots" gets right to the point, starting off with a bang, or perhaps a police baton to the face, as Rodney King walks down the stretch of highway where his notorious beating took place, reenacting that fateful night. The film, produced by VH1 Rock Docs and directed by Mark Ford, tells the story of the 1992 LA riots, using stunning archival footage and interviews with people who were there. It also draws the connection between the riots and the gangsta rap of the time, featuring N.W.A., Ice Cube and Ice T as both the poets and prophets of this outburst of rage and destruction. Fittingly, it's narrated by Snoop Dogg, who found his success in the wake of the riot. The film is an explosive, blistering analysis of this historic event in American history, viewed through the lens of hindsight 20 years later.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Girls Against Boys' Is A Feminist (But All-Too-Familiar) Revenge Tale

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 16, 2012 12:42 PM
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  • 1 Comment
One of the more interesting aspects of this year's SXSW Film Festival is how it opened with Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon's barbed horror deconstruction "Cabin in the Woods" and then, for much of the rest of the festival, was content with showing movies that reiterated all the bad habits and hoary clichés that "Cabin in the Woods" so effortlessly lampooned. (This includes everything from the failed Clive Owen ghost story "Intruders" to the endlessly misogynistic "V/H/S.") It was like starting the festival with a documentary about the quagmire in Iraq and then showing a bunch of movies celebrating combat. And while "Girls Against Boys" (which was just picked up by Anchor Bay, which more or less assures its destiny as cult darling) doesn't totally succeed in its lofty goals, it is one of the more enjoyable entries in the festival, if only because it at least attempts to tease out meaning and subversion in a slate dominated by the same old shit.

SXSW '12 Review: 'In Our Nature' An Exploration Of Discord & Dysfunction Backed By Strong Performances

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • March 16, 2012 11:37 AM
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  • 0 Comments
If it weren’t for dysfunctional relationships, independent films might never have any stories to tell. “In Our Nature” is the latest in a long line of small-scale films about children who don’t get along with their parents, and the terms both come to in the process of a shared experience that throws them together – in predictably unwitting fashion, of course. But solid performances from the central quartet of actors, including Zack Gilford, Jena Malone, John Slattery and Gabrielle Union elevate Brian Savelson’s debut as a writer and director despite its familiarity as not just a story but almost an entire cinematic subgenre.

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