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The Playlist

Review: 'Extraterrestrial' Is A Charming & Ambitious Sci-Fi Rom Com

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • June 14, 2012 1:02 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In 2007 Nacho Vigalondo wrote, directed, and co-starred in "Timecrimes," a loopy Spanish language time travel thriller that announced a bold new voice in science fiction filmmaking. Ingenious on an almost molecular level, the incredibly low budget feature combined traditional time travel concerns (including multiple variations of the same character) with a hard thriller edge and a DePalmian obsession with voyeurism. In short: it was an absolute blast. Well, Vigalondo is finally back, with an altogether different take on science fiction. "Extraterrestrial" (or "Extraterrestre" in its original language) is a kind of romantic comedy set against the backdrop of a global alien invasion. It might not be as bold or crackling as "Timecrimes," but it is just as unique.

Review: 'That's My Boy' Predictably Juvenile & Surprisingly Far Uglier Than The Usual Adam Sandler Offering

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • June 14, 2012 12:37 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Adam Sandler, comedian, A-List star, and leading man of this Friday’s “That’s My Boy,” is not an idiot. Dedicated to preserving his brand, his films have effectively raised a generation, from the sophomoric absurdity of “Billy Madison” to, uh, the sophomoric banality of “Grown Ups.” You can’t keep playing the same notes forever, and Sandler is not the most diverse instrument, so aside from token experiments (“Punch Drunk Love” certainly stands out), “That’s My Boy” is something of a departure: a hard-R rated film featuring an unfamiliar collaborator in director Sean Anders (“Hot Tub Time Machine”) and a co-star who actually makes Sandler, for the first time ever, come across as an elder.

Book Review: In 'Prometheus: The Art Of The Film' Ridley Scott & Co. Offer The Film’s Most Direct Explanation Yet

  • By Christopher Schobert
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  • June 14, 2012 11:00 AM
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  • 12 Comments
Judging by the comments here and here, everyone is a bit “Prometheus”-ed out at this point, even if, like me, you came down on the positive side. It’s easy to forget the film only opened in North America last Friday, so epic is the flow of post-viewing discourse. (“Prometheus”: The “Girls”/"Mad Men" of summer cinema.)

Review: 'Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present' Is A Good But Conventional Doc On An Unconventional Artist

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • June 14, 2012 10:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
In 2010, performance artist Marina Abramović had the attention of everybody, from snobby Manhattanites to Fox News. Her work (which includes a nude couple standing in a busy doorway; exactly what sent the latter into rage) was to be recreated by a number of assistants selected by the artist herself while, at the same time, she put on a new piece: “The Artist is Present.” The idea was simple -- Abramović would be seated in a large room, mute and still, with a patron perched across from her -- yet it proved to be intensely powerful for many (some even moved to tears) and incredibly exhausting for the performer herself. With “Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present,” Matthew Akers attempts to give an informative overview of her oeuvre, while detailing the extensive and strenuous Museum Of Modern Art retrospective of her work and the strangely ethereal titular performance.

Review: 'Rock of Ages' Is Anything But a Good Time

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • June 13, 2012 3:09 PM
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  • 5 Comments
"Rock of Ages" will make you want to raise your arms...and then immediately plunge your fingers into your eyeballs for salvation (you can go back for seconds to rescue your ears). "Hairspray" helmer Adam Shankman directs this movie that will finally kill the '80s nostalgia that continues to plague us if we're lucky and will further root karaoke performances and bar jukeboxes in that hairspray-choked decade if we're not. We've had a sub-par version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" stuck in our head since we saw it, and we wouldn't wish this fate on anyone, except perhaps the development heads at Warner Bros. As much as everyone keeps trying to make Julianne Hough a star, Steve Perry she is not (though admittedly she is cuter).

Review: 'The Woman In The Fifth' Is A Meandering Literary Mystery With Obvious Answers

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • June 12, 2012 3:05 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Sometimes you just get stuck with some leading men. The rakishly handsome Ethan Hawke, currently starring in “The Woman In The Fifth,” has retained that youthful insouciance despite his mature action star frame. He’s compelling when in motion, clearly a thoughtful actor who can convey several conflicting emotions. In conversation, however, he’s still got that inward intellectual curiosity, as if he’s wondering, what am I, and what is happening around me? No current actor quite clearly portrays dead-serious befuddlement quite like Hawke, who seems equally at home (which is to say perplexed) contemplating the secrets of the universe as he does programming the DVR.

Review: Pixar's 'Brave' Is A Powerful But Wobbly Feminist Fairy Tale

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • June 11, 2012 12:00 PM
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  • 35 Comments
There are a lot of firsts associated with "Brave," Disney/Pixar's new feature, set in the misty Scottish highlands. It's the studio's first period piece ("The Incredibles'" captivating retro-futurism doesn't count, it seems), their first fairy tale, and their first film led by a female character (in this case Princess Merida, voiced with strength and conviction by Kelly Macdonald). It was, at one point, also the studio's first movie directed by a woman (Brenda Chapman). And it's these firsts, combined with a charming atmosphere and layers of genuine heart, that make you want to love "Brave" more than you actually do. Because for all these breakthroughs, "Brave" feels hopelessly safe, less a Pixar trailblazer than yet another entry in the Disney princess line of films and products. Brave it is not.

Review: 'Tahrir' Is A Must-See Account Of The Egyptian Uprising

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • June 11, 2012 11:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The "Arab Spring" -- a term frequently used to describe the various countries in the Middle East rising against their much-maligned leaders -- rages on in full force. Though the wave of revolution is powerful, the media tends to be very selective in its coverage, focusing on one country before quickly moving onto another. You can't blame someone if they just assumed Egypt was just dandy now given the lack of coverage, as Libya's the new paramour.
More: Tahrir, Review

Brooklyn Film Festival Review: 'Old Dog' A Bold, Uncompromising Tibetan Tale

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • June 9, 2012 11:17 AM
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  • 2 Comments
And so the Tibetan new-wave cometh. Though merely a tiny ripple for now (consisting of about two filmmakers), the homelanders are showing a different side of their environment, one overlooked by features such as “Seven Years in Tibet” or the blockbusters currently burning the region’s box office. Pema Tseden’s “Old Dog” doesn’t include any of the flourishing beauty that the aforementioned Brad Pitt vehicle does, instead opting to showcase a dismal, despairing area where the cities look like post-apocalyptic wastelands and the countrysides don’t seem to contain a speck of life. While his outlook on things is unrelentingly critical, he’s not being negative for the sake of it -- there’s some true passion behind this work, and Tseden is a director with plenty to say on all topics, ranging from the younger generation's lack of connection to their heritage to the troubling relationship between Tibet and China. All is told in a subtle way, with a minimal plot and quiet, patient long takes -- which is also another way of saying that his modus operandi isn’t likely to please everyone, but for those that admire the work of filmmakers like Jia Zhangke, another remarkable talent has emerged.

Review: After Dark Action Pics 'El Gringo,' 'The Philly Kid,' 'Stash House' & 'Transit' An Unven Offering Of Genre Fare

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • June 9, 2012 11:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
After Dark has been busy releasing a full slate of genre fare, and today we take a look at the After Dark Action lineup which dropped no less than four new movies in May. They each had a brief theatrical run are now available on VOD. Read on below to hear our thoughts on these movies featuring Dolph Lundgren, Scott Adkins, Jim Caviezel and more.

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