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The Playlist

Review: Disney's New Animated Short 'Feast'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 13, 2014 11:04 AM
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  • 0 Comments
To paraphrase Mark Twain for a moment, the reports of the death of two-dimensional animation have been greatly exaggerated. And nowhere is this more true than in the vaunted halls of Walt Disney Animation Studio. Even though the studio hasn't put out a traditional animated feature film since 2011's underrated "Winnie the Pooh," no one should conclude its turned its back on the format. If anything, Disney has buckled down on how to merge traditional story-telling tropes with audience-friendly, cutting-edge technology. The studio is using its short film program as an incubator for these ideas —the latest of which is the heart-tugging treasure "Feast," which is scheduled to play before "Big Hero 6" in theaters this fall.

Review: 'Let's Be Cops' Starring Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans Jr., Nina Dobrev & Andy Garcia

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 13, 2014 9:05 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Let's Be Cops
From the title alone, "Let's Be Cops" makes it clear its ambitious are slight, with the comedy not asking much of the audience except to sit back and let the premise of two guys pretending to be police officers go wild. But any goodwill will likely depend on how much they can tolerate a production this lazy. Not resembling a movie as much as a series of loosely connected skits that eventually cohere into something resembling a motion picture, filled with a handful of odd continuity issues, dangling plot threads, and most importantly, the problem of being deeply unfunny, 'Let's Be Cops' is a fine example of what happens when filmmakers rely too heavily on the potential chemistry of the cast, rather than giving actors something decent on the page to work with.

Review: Michael Winterbottom's 'The Trip To Italy' Starring Steve Coogan And Rob Brydon

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • August 12, 2014 3:19 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Trip to Italy
If you haven’t seen Michael Winterbottom’s 2010 “The Trip,” stop everything right this second and watch it (hint: it’s on Netflix.) Initiated as a BBC television show, UK viewers have already been put in stitches by Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon’s antics therein. Playing fictionalized versions of themselves, not unlike John Malkovich in “Being John Malkovich,” while traveling the English countryside reviewing restaurants for UK’s The Observer, the pair's carrying on is similar to a fond memory of two instinctively funny acquaintances you’re not sure you’ll ever meet again. Luckily, Steve and Rob reunite for “The Trip To Italy,”and the effect amounts to déjà-vu, with the added bonus of seeing the resplendent Italian coast

Recap: 'The Leftovers,' Season 1, Episode 7 'Solace For Tired Feet'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 10, 2014 11:00 PM
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  • 6 Comments
The Leftovers
"I think I might be going crazy," Kevin Garvey (Justin Theroux) tells his new girlfriend Nora Durst (Carrie Coon) toward the end of "Solace For Tired Feet," and it's a realization that's been a long time coming. Suffering from bad dreams, lost time and sometimes unable to tell reality from the fevered images conjured by his brain, Kevin has somehow managed to keep it together, as much as possible. Even in the face of divorce, and losing a grip on his daughter, who continues to put her life on the line for thrills with her envelope pushing friends. And kicking off this week's episode, Jill (Margaret Qualley) is once again testing her limits, stuffing herself inside an abandoned refrigerator in the forest where a local boy once lost his life. She's looking to break the record for how long she can stay in there without losing her breath, and breaks it handily, but when her friends try to get her out, the handle snaps off the door. They panic, scream for help and try and call 911, but assistance arrives from an unlikely source — Jill's grandfather (Scott Glenn), last seen in a psychiatric hospital, gets her out, and says, "Don't tell your Daddy you saw me," before running back into the woods.

Review: 'Big Chill'-Esque 'About Alex' Starring Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield, Max Minghella And More

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 7, 2014 5:44 PM
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  • 0 Comments
About Alex
Every generation needs a couple of reunion movies, and in “About Alex" we have another one. First-time writer-director Jesse Zwick doesn't so much swing for the fences as attempt to dribble a single down the baseline. This comedy-drama doesn't reach any untold heights, but with formula pictures like this, you can only hope the company is pleasant. With this cast, those meager expectations are reached.

TV Review: Steven Soderbergh's 'The Knick' Starring Clive Owen

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 7, 2014 2:05 PM
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  • 2 Comments
The Knick
"No one handles the unexpected like John Thackery," someone quips in "The Knick." "It's where I live," comes the doctor's quick reply, and it's about as perfect a summation of the lead character of the new Cinemax show that you're likely to get. "Unexpected" is also a good descriptor of the series itself. While it's presented as a period based medical drama — and it certainly is, if that's all you're looking for — over the course of the seven episodes sent in advance to press (the first season runs ten episodes long), it steadily becomes clear that "The Knick" is so much more than that, and it's easy to see why Steven Soderbergh, who had retired from making feature films, couldn't resist getting back behind the camera. "Look, I was out. I read this thing last May, right before we were going to Cannes with 'Behind the Candelabra.' I read it and was like, 'Shit.' I was the first person to get it. I went, 'Well, the second person who reads this is going to do this,' " he said last month. And good thing this crossed his desk, because "The Knick" might be the best work Soderbergh has done in ages.

Review: Found Footage Tornado Disaster Flick 'Into The Storm'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 7, 2014 11:39 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Into The Storm
"If we don't take care of nature, nature will take care of us," is the teenage pearl of wisdom that Donnie (Max Deacon) shares in "Into The Storm." And it's indicative of the on-the-nose moralizing in this confused summer disaster flick that struggles to commit to what kind of movie it wants to be. One part environmental warning, another part PSA, and third part revelling in wind and rain blown destruction, the movie is ultimately a string of set pieces barely held together by the thinnest of stories. It's mostly about pitting people in uniquely extreme situations of life threatening danger, and perhaps it shouldn't be surprising given it's coming from director Steven Quayle, the man who gave us "Final Destination 5."

Review: Rich And Emotionally Rewarding Documentary 'Web Junkie'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 6, 2014 7:34 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Web Junkie
The opening moments of “Web Junkies” are surreal: we see a bunch of young Chinese boys stomping around what looks to be military barracks. A title card says that this is the Daxing Boot Camp, in a suburb of Beijing. The camera focuses in on one young boy, still in his room, looking out at his peers through a metallic mesh. He is sobbing. Someone asks one of the boys what they did to get to this place, and the boy responds, “I used the Internet.”

Review: ‘The Dog’ Tells The Incredible Story Of The Criminal Behind ‘Dog Day Afternoon’

  • By Christopher Schobert
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  • August 6, 2014 5:08 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The Dog
John Wojtowicz is the rare subject whose real life was more complex, more borderline-unbelievable and more gloriously strange than the one presented on the big screen. He was “The Dog,” the wannabe bank robber whose failed heist of a Chase Manhattan Bank in sweltering '70s Brooklyn was the basis for Sidney Lumet’s classic “Dog Day Afternoon.” Portrayed by a peak-of-his-powers Al Pacino (named Sonny Wortzik in the film), Wojtowicz is mostly remembered for the ostensible reason behind the robbery—to pay for his boyfriend’s sex change operation. As the moving, sad, riotously humorous documentary “The Dog” explains, the film only captured traces of Wojtowicz’s personality, and only told bits of his story. 'Afternoon' is a masterpiece, to be sure, but the real dog’s life was even wilder, its central figure an utterly eccentric character.

Review: 'What If' Starring Daniel Radcliffe, Zoe Kazan, Adam Driver, Rafe Spall And Mackenzie Davis

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 6, 2014 11:25 AM
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  • 2 Comments
What If
It has been 25 years since "When Harry Met Sally," the ultimate can-men-and-women-be-just-friends romantic comedy, hit theatres, and as we've recently discussed, few films of that sort have matched it in that time. But lately Hollywood has been taking a crack at that unique premise with mixed results, most notably with "Friends With Benefits" and "No Strings Attached," both released within months of each other and both not very good. So "Goon" and "Fubar" director Michael Dowse has a high bar to reach with "What If."

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