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The Playlist

Review: Forget About Your Heart, 'New Year's Eve' Just Wants Your Money

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • December 7, 2011 12:43 PM
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  • 2 Comments
If you've managed to make it through two hours of "New Year's Eve" with the idea that it's about anything more than box office returns and home entertainment bank, Warner Bros., New Line and director Garry Marshall are more than happy to set you straight. In a largely unfunny series of credits bloopers, Jessica Biel's character gives birth to twins, and she couldn't be happier to have "Valentine's Day" pop out of her vagina in both DVD and Blu-ray formats (on sale now!). We're not naive enough to imagine that studio films are purely about artistry (and not cynical enough to think that it's never present), but we wish those behind "New Year's Eve" had at least pretended they were trying to entertain us while they rummage through our pockets for loose change.

Review: 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy' Is A Remarkable, Quietly Devastating Spy Movie

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • December 7, 2011 11:15 AM
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  • 3 Comments
The spy genre, is generally speaking, a euphemism for 'action movie' -- look at the explosions, fistfights and car chases of the Bond films, of the 'Mission: Impossible' series, of the 'Bourne' franchise, none of which have much in the way of actual tradecraft. The business of being a spy is hard, boring work, made up of listening and talking and without a lot of glamor. One of the men who best understands this is novelist John Le Carré, himself a former spy, who for close to half a century has been behind some of the most acclaimed literary examples of the genre. But aside from the much-loved "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold," and the more recent "The Constant Gardener" (the latter not strictly speaking an espionage picture), his works haven't had a huge amount of success on the big screen, lacking the speedboats and fireballs of Ian Fleming or Robert Ludlum.

Review: 'Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol' Provides Worthwhile Thrills In A Disappointingly Unimaginative Package

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • December 7, 2011 7:30 AM
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  • 16 Comments
“Mission: Impossible” is that rarest of franchises, where it seems unnecessary, or even irrelevant, to compare one installment to another. Because each film was shepherded into existence by a different filmmaker, and in all cases by one branded an “auteur,” they all seem to exist independently, demonstrating strengths and weaknesses none of the others have. And “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” falls perfectly in line with its predecessors: helmed by Brad Bird, whose combination of brisk action and humanizing comedy made Pixar’s “The Incredibles” such a winner, the fourth film is its own entity, a bemusing but visceral thriller that ups the series’ stakes while staying true to its core concepts. But bereft of the unifying concept each of the previous films had – or depending on one’s opinion, that they lacked – 'Ghost Protocol' is a fun but mostly empty adventure story that operates with the rote predictability of a middling ‘90s James Bond movie rather than a benchmark-setting actioner or even seasonal “event movie.”

Review: 'I Melt With You' Is An Intensely Familiar Look At Male Midlife Crisis

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • December 6, 2011 9:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments
If an alien race were to study our cinema, they’d realize that every man beyond the age of 40 is unhappy and suffering a mid-life crisis. For every happy, well-adjusted middle-aged man in contemporary cinema, there are three more, casually living life out of a suitcase, a bottle, or underneath a sea of unpaid bills and obligations.

Review: Charlize Theron Shines In The Unflinchingly Funny & Painful 'Young Adult'

  • By William Goss
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  • December 5, 2011 10:59 AM
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  • 1 Comment

Review: Takeshi Kitano's 'Outrage' Is Beautifully Shot & Well Choreographed But Feels Exhausting, Deflated & Empty

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 1, 2011 1:22 PM
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  • 1 Comment
"Outrage," Takeshi Kitano's return to the yakuza genre, received mixed reviews from critics when it had its first official screenings at Cannes in 2010. Though we weren't initially planning on seeing it on the Croisette, we kept hearing positive chatter about the film and decided to catch the last screening, and judging by the lines which began forming more than two hours before the doors opened, the anticipation for the film certainly hasn't abated despite critical indifference.
More: Reviews, Review

Review: The Ralph Fiennes-Directed 'Coriolanus' Is As Well-Acted As It Is Challenging

  • By James Rocchi
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  • December 1, 2011 10:58 AM
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  • 1 Comment
From what little we know of Shakespeare's life, "Coriolanus" was one of his later tragedies; compared to his other works in the same vein, it's one of his more complex ones as well. It doesn't offer us a father betrayed like" King Lear," or a good man undone by his own wants like "Macbeth"; instead, it gives us a Roman general who, in his hunger for war, devours his life -- family, country, honor -- when the world will not let him be a warrior and, instead, insists he be a war hero. Thrust into politics, Coriolanus is a general, then a politician, and then despised by the people who called for his elevation, leading him to ally with his hated Vosican enemy Tullus Aufidus to attack his own homeland in a fit of rage.

Review: 'Khodorkovsky' Is An Engaging Tale About Capitalist Russia's First Billionaire

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • November 30, 2011 11:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Review: Steve McQueen's 'Shame' A Fascinating Follow-Up To 'Hunger,' With A Tour-De-Force From Michael Fassbender

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • November 29, 2011 10:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
As English-language directorial debuts of the last few years go, Steve McQueen's "Hunger" ranks up there as one of the most uncompromising. An award-winning, sometimes controversial British artist, McQueen chose to move into feature films by examining the life of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, managing not to flinch from any of the grim details, using takes of up to 20 minutes in length, and showcasing a blazing performance from the now firmly-planted-on-the-A-list Michael Fassbender. It picked up an enormous amount of critical support, including the Camera D'Or at Cannes in 2008, and signified both director and star as major talents to watch.

Review: 'Sleeping Beauty' Starring Emily Browning Seduces With The Pervading Power Of A Dream

  • By James Rocchi
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  • November 28, 2011 2:06 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Greeted with diffident, muted applause at Cannes -- where it was instantly vaulted into must-see territory the second it arrived in competition despite being the debut effort of a first-time director -- "Sleeping Beauty" is a film that seduces and repels, that flickers between a come-hither smoldering gaze and dead-eyed passive aggression. This is, in many ways, the kind of film you only get at a major festival, a hothouse flower, beautiful and delicate and yet surprisingly hardy and potentially toxic. At the same time, it's exactly the kind of film least well-served by being screened at a major film fest, with considered, slow contemplation pushed aside for rushes to judgment as fleet as a tweet.

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