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The Playlist

Cannes Review: Faith & Love Collide In Cristian Mungiu's Powerful 'Beyond The Hills'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 18, 2012 7:05 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Can blind, unquestioning devout faith be just as corrupting as sin? Can love be as all consuming as evil? These are the big, broad themes being explored in Cristian Mungiu's deliberate and somewhat cryptic "Beyond The Hills," a very slow burn drama that finds both religious and emotional obsession crossing paths with tragic and haunting results.

Cannes Review: Xavier Dolan's Messy 'Laurence Anyways' Is Both Ambitious & Admirable

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 18, 2012 5:22 PM
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  • 5 Comments
"The sky's the limit," Fred (Suzanne Clement) says when she's asked about what people will say when her boyfriend Laurence (Melvin Poupad) decides to become a woman. It's 1989 and she believes that her generation is ready to handle transsexuality -- and perhaps they are -- but as both Fred and Laurence soon find out, their intellectual capacity to deal with the transition may not survive the rigors of the heart. The young director Xavier Dolan has proven he's anything if not divisive, and his latest, "Laurence Anyways," will do nothing to change that. But as messy as it is, as much as the film overreaches and overplays its hand, "Laurence Anyways" is also exciting for the very ambition and narrative daring that it contains.

Review: 'Natural Selection' Surprises and Charms in More Ways Than One On Its Odd Couple Road Trip Journey

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • May 18, 2012 1:15 PM
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  • 0 Comments
"Natural Selection" swept the jury awards at SXSW 2011, and has been generally hailed especially for Rachael Harris' performance, a dramatic turn from a well-established comedienne. The feature debut from writer/director Robbie Pickering, the film stars Harris as mousey Texas housewife Lindy who has been denied sex by her husband Abe (John Diehl) for 25 years because their religion expressly forbids copulation without the express purpose of procreation, and wouldn't you know it, Lindy can't have any "special babies."

Cannes Review: Matteo Garrone's Lightweight & Lifeless 'Reality' Is A Disappointment

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 18, 2012 11:50 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The relationship between audiences and reality television has shifted to some degree over the past decade (or longer). Where early shows were once positioned as voyeuristic/documentary style looks at Real People, it quickly became clear to those in front of the camera, behind it and at home watching, that reality television is just a different kind of performance. While these programs are ones ostensibly rooted in Real Life, the people selected for these shows -- as well as the writers, producers and directors -- have become increasingly aware of the audience, playing directly to them. Simply put, most people know reality television is actually not that real at all, but in case you forgot, Matteo Garrone's "Reality" is here to remind you.

Cannes Review: Over The Top 'Broken' Starring Tim Roth & Cillian Murphy Can't Get It Together

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 18, 2012 8:00 AM
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  • 6 Comments
There is a difference between a kitchen sink drama and a drama that includes everything but the kitchen sink, and unfortunately for "Broken," it's more of the latter than the former. Marking the feature debut by theater director Rufus Norris and with Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy and Rory Kinnear among the ensemble, the is the kind of movie that mistakes adding a new plot twist every fifteen minutes for narrative momentum and drama.

Review: 'Bill W.' Draws You Into The Trials And The Triumphs Of Alcoholics Anonymous

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • May 17, 2012 6:21 PM
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  • 3 Comments
“Bill W.” tells the story of the largely unsung hero William G. Wilson, the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization that has saved the lives of thousands and thousands of people. The documentary, led by directing and producing team Kevin Hanlon and Dan Carracino, is an effort to tell a relatively unknown story about a man who has been a guiding light for many other relative unknowns. The title stands in the tradition of A.A., where members are granted absolute anonymity, both to protect them from the stigma of alcoholism and to shelter the organization from potential media hounds. Even as his organization grew to include tens of thousands of members, Wilson’s identity was not revealed to the public until his death in 1971: many recovering alcoholics knew their savior only as “Bill.”

Review: 'American Animal' Is Where Independent Cinema Goes To Die

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 17, 2012 4:05 PM
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  • 18 Comments
Matt D’Elia, the writer, director and “star” of “American Animal,” plays Jimmy, a wiry twentysomething living off the considerable wealth of his rich father. He never leaves his apartment, despite repeatedly coughing up blood and showing noticeable signs of illness. Parading around his apartment in elaborate costumes, creating false identities for himself, and speaking in made-up languages, he considers each step he takes a sample of performance art, a “free show” for his “audiences.” He also hates jobs, disdains reading, and cares little for the comfort level of others around him, under the guise of “putting on the ritz.” The fact that he goes through the entirety of “American Animal” without being punched, murdered, or locked in a spaceship and shot into the sun is some sort of goddamned miracle.

Review: Waterlogged 'Battleship' Is A Cynical, Nonsensical & Boring Blockbuster

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 17, 2012 11:00 AM
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  • 17 Comments
Expectations are a tricky thing with films. In an age where every teaser, trailer, teaser-for-a-trailer, poster and publicity still are pored over endlessly, many go into a film thinking they know what they'll think afterwards. This can lead to hopes being crushed, or sometimes, for a film that you'd previously dismissed turning out to be a pleasant surprise -- only last summer, we were dreading "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," only to discover that it was perhaps the best blockbuster of the season. Honestly, very little makes us happier than such a film: a picture that's been mis-marketed that turns out be an absolute treat, that is an entirely different beast to what you thought it was going to be.

Cannes Review: 'The We & The I' Is A Testing, Patronizing Let-Down From Michel Gondry

  • By James Rocchi
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  • May 17, 2012 7:41 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Like some Gallic version of Tim Burton, Michel Gondry's initial promise has given way to a series of films whose diminishing returns demonstrate that he's a talented visualist without the capacity for, or worse, any interest in, telling an actual story. Gondry's defenders will, of course, point to the excellent "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," but the passage of years has made it abundantly clear that the credit for that film is entirely screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's; Gondry may have gotten out of the way of that script, but that's hardly a reason to celebrate his skills or capablities, such as they are, beyond that. The messy "Be Kind, Rewind," the cutesy-creepy "The Science of Sleep," the noisome and needless "Green Hornet" ... Gondry's name above a title has gone from being a reason to seek a film to being a reason to shun it.

Cannes Review: Blood & Water Flow Freely In Jacques Audiard's Beautiful & Moving 'Rust & Bone'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 17, 2012 6:44 AM
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  • 11 Comments
What is it we do to survive? Who is it we love? Who is it we fight? What are the forces seen and unseen that push our lives in directions we could have never expected? These are the questions that Jacques Audiard tackles in his latest "Rust And Bone," a beautiful, moving story of two fractured lives that somehow, together, combine into a single (if unconventional) whole.

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