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The Playlist

Review: Marvel's 'The Avengers' Is Immensely Satisfying, Entirely Thrilling & Possibly The Best Superhero Movie Yet

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 19, 2012 7:05 PM
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  • 33 Comments
The first scene of " The Avengers" is not very good. Deep in a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. base, scientist Eric Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) is conducting experiments on The Tesseract, the blue cube that powered the Red Skull's experiments in "Captain America." Expriments that, unfortunately, bring to earth Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the vengeful brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), last seen plummeting from Asgard into oblivion. Loki manages to take down S.H.I.E.L.D's best -- Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) -- with ease, and soon the base is decimated. It's a perfectly acceptable place to start, but there's something off about the execution: it's stilted, awkward and humorless, and the action is pretty uninvolving, with a TV-level of scope.

Tribeca Review: Haphazard 'Your Sister's Sister' Ambles Towards Drama With Little Consequence

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 19, 2012 7:00 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Independent filmmaking has become somewhat hyper-obsessed in the last few years with "realism." Lighting rigs have been put away, available light filling in where it will, and scripts tossed out for sketches, shaped by improvisation in an attempt to capture as close to an approximation of real human interaction as possible. It's an admirable approach, and not just limited to "mumblecore" movies -- Terrence Malick has followed this path pretty closely throughout this career. However, the risk in this style is that if it's too loose, it can structurally crumble the emotional and narrative focus. And for "Humpday" director Lynn Shelton's "Your Sister's Sister," that's the unfortunate result of the ten day shoot on the film that gathered together a game cast -- Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and Mark Duplass -- and sets them loose on a good dramatic premise, unfortunately ill-served by a far too casual approach.

Review: 'Snow On Tha Bluff' A Refreshing, Unrelenting Piece Of Cinéma Vérité

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 19, 2012 1:27 PM
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  • 3 Comments
A jolt of, uh, dope into the veins of the micro-indie/found footage scene, “Snow on tha Bluff” is a wildly kinetic tour through one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the United States; an endlessly entertaining and captivating portrait of a “robbery boy” and crack dealer. Filmmaker Damon Russel completely disappears, letting subject Curtis Snow carry the entire film, resulting in gritty, authentic document of the culture and lifestyle in Atlanta’s favorite little quarters.

Tribeca Review: An Unwieldy ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ Is Still Endearing, Funny & Smart

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 19, 2012 8:59 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Funny, touching and occasionally dramatic, Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s charming “The Five Year Engagement” falls just short of the modern-day comedy classic category, and yet is deeply entertaining, genuinely amusing and satisfying in the way most shaggy-dog, two-hour-plus comedies are not. Bolstered by a hilarious supporting cast and two genuinely likable leads, the Judd Apatow-produced comedy may feel a little unkempt at times, but the picture has sweet and touching notes to go with the diverting silliness.

Review: 'Oki's Movie' A Sincere, Hilarious & Dense Relationship Movie

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 18, 2012 6:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Comprised of four segments using the same characters caught in a love triangle at various points in their life, "Oki's Movie" experiments with structure to humorously examine the connections and similarities between people. By jumping through various time periods and swapping perspectives, filmmaker Hong Sang-soo creates a little puzzle out of human relationships.

Review: 'Bad Ass' Adds Intriguing Dimension To Hit Viral Video, Then Squanders It With Tacky Exploitation Trappings

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 18, 2012 5:56 PM
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  • 0 Comments
All hail VOD, the format giving new life to disreputable exploitation films. It was problematic to stock them on DVD shelves next to the likes of “Kangaroo Jack” and “The Chronicles Of Riddick.” Now, the cheapest, tackiest, most base thrills are only a click away, allowing an opportunistic indie like “Bad Ass” it’s moment to shine, giving the perfect level of exposure to this grungy shlockfest with a built-in limited shelf life.

Review: Mary Harron's 'The Moth Diaries' Is A Teen Vampire Tale Without Any Fangs

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 18, 2012 4:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
It's remarkably tough to get any film financed, at least one that doesn't have 3D talking animals from a popular cartoon series. So it's no surprise that some filmmakers, for all their best efforts, can go three, four, five or more years between pictures. Worryingly, it seems to be doubly true for female directors. Look at Kimberley Pierce, who's only made one film in the twelve years since "Boys Don't Cry," or Tamara Jenkins, for whom nearly a decade separated "Slums of Beverley Hills" and "The Savages," or even Kathryn Bigelow, who might be an Oscar-winner now, but had a six-year break before "The Hurt Locker." One of the key examples here is Mary Harron, who since her 1996 debut "I Shot Andy Warhol" had only made two other films: "American Psycho," and the biopic "The Notorious Bettie Page," the latter of which was five whole years ago. None of her films to date have been stellar, but she's always displayed more than enough filmmaking nous to make an upcoming Harron picture something to look forward to.

Review: Disneynature's 'Chimpanzee' Would Be Genuinely Amazing If Tim Allen Just Shut The Hell Up

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 18, 2012 2:56 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The opening moments of Disneynature’s “Chimpanzee” are genuinely jaw dropping – an emerald green jungle, more lush and 3D than the otherworldly forests of Pandora, fans out across the screen, and we’re introduced to a young male chimpanzee, named Oscar, as intricate and bewildering as any CGI creation. And then…the narration starts. In a misguided bit of synergistic back-scratching, Buzz Lightyear himself Tim Allen provides the running commentary, which is so awful that it does the unthinkable – it actually unravels much of the natural beauty presented onscreen. It’s enough that the entire time you’re thinking, “Well, maybe there’ll be a silent version on the DVD.” It’s that ridiculously terrible.

Review: 'Goodbye First Love' Looks At Young Romance Without Affection

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 17, 2012 3:07 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Television and movies love to indulge us in pre-adulthood nostalgia. Whether the bait is loose (young hooligans causing a ruckus) or more specific and event-oriented (prom, which we've seen less of lately because, well, prom sucks), the powers that be tug at our heartstrings and force us to look back at a time free of major responsibilities and full of fresh experiences. The glazed schmaltz can be off-putting for some, but occasionally sincerity shines through, and we get something that captures the emotions extraordinarily well (for this writer's money, "The Virgin Suicides" and "The Girl" are uneven but nail certain feelings on the head). But if we look back without this fondness, what are these stories? Are they merely happenings that somehow affected the person we become, or are they just the product of naive children that didn't know better? Mia Hansen-Løve's "Goodbye First Love" attempts a critical look at a teenager's first relationship without wooing us first with their blithe beginnings, but has very little to say about the topic.

Review: Christianity & College Life Collide In Fresh 'Blue Like Jazz'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 12, 2012 6:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Most discerning moviegoers flinch when greeted with the prospect of a "Christian" film. Religion and mainstream cinema do not make comfortable bedfellows, as many films in this subgenre fit the very definition of "preaching to the choir," concerned not with challenging viewers as much as pandering to their most base instincts. "Blue Like Jazz," based on a book of autobiographical essays from writer and Christian Donald Miller, likely gives pause to those on the fence about religion-based material. Though this Kickstarter-funded effort, one that by far surpassed its budgetary goal on that website, actually plays like a real live movie, with actors, location, editing and proper music employed. Thank the Lord for small favors and damning praise!

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