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The Playlist

Review: 'The East' Is A Divisive, But Stylish Thriller & Worthy Companion Piece To 'Sound Of My Voice'

  • By Cory Everett
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  • May 31, 2013 10:59 AM
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  • 6 Comments
The East, Ellen Page, Alexander Skarsgard
The first images in "The East" – the new thriller from Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, the team who made last year's underrated cult thriller "Sound Of My Voice" – are grainy footage of intruders breaking into someone's home juxtaposed with images of seagulls covered in oil. We are told through voiceover that this is the home of a CEO whose company was responsible for dumping millions of gallons of oil into the ocean. Our narrator (Ellen Page) we will learn is one of the members of an anarchist collective called The East, who are determined to enforce a strict eye-for-an-eye philosophy that will make their voices heard. The music pulses, the images are chilling and so we buckle up for a ride.

Review: Inert 'The Wall' Lacks Dramatic Momentum

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 31, 2013 10:02 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Martina Gedeck, The Wall
The term “adaptation” seems to escape certain filmmakers, flummoxing those who seem absolutely wedded to their material. It squanders a great deal of potential when stories, themes and characters are followed to the letter, ignoring that the shift from one medium to another requires a tremendous transformation of the source material. That seems to be the chief problem with Julian Pölsler's “The Wall,” an elegiac new film that can’t seem to get out of its own way in an attempt to tell its own story, to the point where it feels like two distinctly different warring sensibilities at play.

Review: Idiosyncratic & Hilarious ‘Kings Of Summer’ Heralds The Arrival Of A Fresh New Comic Voice

  • By Cory Everett
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  • May 30, 2013 7:26 PM
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  • 2 Comments
After the premiere screening at Sundance of his wonderful debut feature “Kings Of Summer,” director Jordan Vogt-Roberts – responsible for the short “Successful Alcoholics” and a veteran of “Funny Or Die Presents…” – told the audience his influences for his first feature included early Amblin films like “The Goonies” with “elements of [Terrence] Malick,” and most surprisingly, “Bad Boys II.” The filmmaker had to clarify that he was not, in fact, joking about Michael Bay’s destruction opus, and his Twitter bio proves it (“Really into Michael Bay”). And so, from these wonderfully disparate influences we have “Kings Of Summer,” a crockpot of comedy and coming-of-age film without a trace of irony.

Review: 'American Mary' Is Just Another Stroll Down Body Modification Lane

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 30, 2013 6:12 PM
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  • 2 Comments
american mary
Some great movies, and a whole lot of terrible ones, seem to begin with one image. In regards to “American Mary,” that image the voluptuous Katherine Isabelle, clad in form-hugging lingerie, clasping a scalpel, blood leaking in her cleavage, an item of titillation that just about covers the singular kink-and-horror appeal of this sideshow oddity, showing up ten minutes into the film. It’s the creation of a tableau more than the promise of a story, the sort of imprint that remains over the course of this film, which never begins to capture the “why” of that image’s core appeal beyond superficial depth.
More: Reviews, Review

Review: 'Now You See Me' Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher & Mark Ruffalo

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 30, 2013 5:02 PM
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  • 6 Comments
David Copperfield once famously quipped to Johnny Carson, that the difference between a trick and an illusion is "about $40,000." And certainly, in recent years magic has gone from something defined by either birthday party tricksters or arena selling professionals, into a piece of slick entertainment that also includes legitimate street performers, reality show stars and much more. (In fact, one of the best in the world right now might be a guy you never heard of named Apollo Robbins). And it's against this new face of the industry where "Now You See Me" starts (as partially seen in the opening four minutes that dropped online), with a group of random performers -- ranging from the skyscraper theatrics of J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) to the mentalism hustle of Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) -- individually and mysteriously brought together by a shadowy figure for what becomes the ultimate illusion.

Review: 'After Earth' Provides Father-Son Counseling Within Generic Sci-Fi Trappings

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 30, 2013 8:56 AM
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  • 8 Comments
After Earth, Jaden Smith, Will Smith
In regards to summer blockbusters, there’s a sense that we should grade on a curve. So count a couple of wins in M. Night Shyamalan’s column: “After Earth” is not one of those movies where you have to keep track of a million characters, each one having some sort of individual, arcane plot significance. It is not reliant on a pre-established property or mythology. At a brisk 100 minutes, the picture certainly never overstays its welcome. It doesn’t have a half-hearted allusion to 9/11 or current global politics, and isn’t scored like a composer with a grudge is doling out revenge one booming crescendo at a time. And thank the God for small favors that “After Earth” isn’t in 3D.

Review: 'La Camioneta' Provides An Intimate And Hopeful Look At Modern Migration

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • May 29, 2013 6:02 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The Guatemalan documentary “La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus,” from American director Mark Kendall, sheds light on a little known connection between the United States and Central America. After discovering that most of Guatemala’s public transportation buses – known as camionetas – are actually refurbished American school buses, Kendall set out to capture the process by which these vehicles gained a second life. In doing so, he has created a work of sociological significance as well as a surprisingly personal account of a community that has ensured its survival by salvaging these buses.
More: Reviews, Review

Review: James Marsh's 'Shadow Dancer' Starring Clive Owen & Andrea Riseborough

  • By John Lichman
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  • May 28, 2013 7:29 PM
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  • 1 Comment
If “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” represented the height of Cold War paranoia within the British intelligence community, then “Shadow Dancer” is the next chapter, replacing the ominous Russian government with a more localized threat: The Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Cannes Review: ‘Stranger By The Lake’ An Impressively Controlled, Sexually Explicit Tale Of Gay Summer Love & Murder

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • May 28, 2013 10:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The scheduling of the Cannes Film Festival works in such a way that it’s rare that we get to see any film based on anything as spontaneous as peer recommendation unless it’s already been on our radar for a few weeks beforehand. But one film that did come to our notice by that route, and then had the stars align enough for us to be able to go and see, was Alain Guiraudie’s French-language “Stranger By The Lake,” and we’re very glad it did. Tonally in the same vein of sunny noir as, say, Francois Ozon’s “Swimming Pool,” ‘Stranger’ is a sexually explicit but low-key story of lust and murder set, with almost theatrically formal rigor, in a contained few locations on the “gay side” of a lake in the French countryside over a few weeks of summer.

Cannes Review: The Bright Colors Of 'Grigris' Can't Save Monochrome Story

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 27, 2013 2:39 PM
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  • 2 Comments
While Cannes had no shortage of high-profile titles to choose from, sometimes the most exciting thing about hitting the Croisette is discovering something flying under the radar. And unlike the auteur and star-driven movies, the push and pull over going to see something unknown versus eating, writing or catching up on a couple of hours of valuable sleep, can come down to the images. And wisely, the folks behind "Grisgris" put their greatest asset -- dancer and lead actor Souleymane Démé -- front and center on the press material. His lean muscular form and captivating face are a draw, and the crisply colored, expertly composed images from the movie, drew us into sitting down for this Cannes competition entry, but unfortunately, it didn't wind up being the hidden jewel we were hoping for.

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