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The Playlist

Review: 'Aroused' A Desperate Attempt To Be Revealing About An Already-Revealing Industry

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 4, 2013 11:18 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Aroused
There’s a probing, but flattering documentary yet to be made about the secret lives of porn stars. Unfortunately, “Aroused,” the directorial debut of photographer Deborah Anderson, is not it. This mostly black-and-white documentary boasts what pretends to be an uncensored look at the inner lives of porn stars, ostensibly a side project along to Anderson’s evocative primary skill. She brands them “some of the most successful women in the business of sex,” but the sixteen performers selected for showcase seem to be secondary to Anderson’s elaborate set-up.

Review: 'Star Trek Into Darkness' Often Thrills, But Undone By An Underwritten Villain & Thin Story

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 3, 2013 5:44 PM
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  • 25 Comments
Star Trek: Into Darkness
Cast your mind back four years or so, to stardate early May 2009, and remember a time when J.J Abrams wasn't yet the anointed savior of Hollywood. He had an ever-growing fanbase, and had already been behind at least one bona-fide small screen pop culture phenomenon. But his influence on the big-screen up to that point only extended to a few screenwriting credits, mostly forgotten, a producing credit on disposable sleeper hit "Cloverfield," and directing "Mission: Impossible III," an enjoyable, but somewhat interchangeable entry to the Tom Cruise spy franchise.

Review: 'Michael H. Profession: Director' Is An Interesting But Never Essential Portrait Of Michael Haneke

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • May 3, 2013 1:50 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Michael H - Profession: Director
Described memorably as the Minister of Fear by the New York Times some years ago, Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke has been terrorizing audiences and holding them emotionally and psychologically hostage ever since his career began. Fond of rigorous, excruciatingly brutal portraits of human suffering, misery and seemingly sadomasochistic torture, Haneke's vision of such painful aims is always unflinching, coldly dispassionate and cruelly voyeuristic. With the absence of joy, hope and relief in his movies, and a stringent, rap-on-the-knuckles approach that sometimes verges on being scolding, many have assumed Haneke to be a soulless misanthrope, humorlessly putting audiences through the paces because he can.

Review: Olivier Assayas’ ‘Something In The Air’ A Gorgeous Autobiography Marred By Underdeveloped Characters

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 3, 2013 8:01 AM
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  • 2 Comments
He’s been something of a critical favorite for a while now, but after making the hugely acclaimed “Summer Hours” and the TV miniseries/theatrical marathon “Carlos” within a few years of each other, French filmmaker Olivier Assayas has firmly cemented himself as one of the more exciting directors in world cinema. And to celebrate the success, Assayas has decided to look back, returning to the autobiographical milieu of his international breakout “Cold Water.” But while that film, a teen romance set in the early 1970s, was a rather intimate, small-scale film, Assayas has come up with something much grander with “Something In The Air” (or “Apres Mai”).

Tribeca Review: ‘Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia’ Is A Forgettable Film About An Unforgettable Figure

  • By Diana Drumm
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  • May 2, 2013 8:29 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Gore Vidal is fascinating. Whether you agree with his politics or you enjoy is witty brand of snark or neither, he led an incredible and prolific life – one that could encompass multiple documentaries and this ultimately becomes the pitfall of “Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia” as it tries to make a singular documentary of such a multi-faceted and well-known figure.

Review: 'Dead Man's Burden' Is A Stunningly Shot, Slow Burner Of A Classic, Yet Modern Western

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • May 2, 2013 6:04 PM
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  • 2 Comments
One of the most cinematically gorgeous independent films in a long time, “Dead Man’s Burden” (along with fellow 2012 indie “Beasts of the Southern Wild," shot on Super 16) truly makes the case for celluloid. While watching this meditative Western, one simply wants to drink in the beauty of the image, and yes, that image is created on 35 mm film. They don’t make RED cameras that can do what film achieves in terms of sheer richness of image. In the age of digital everything, might independent film, at one time the dominion of digital, be the savior of celluloid? “Dead Man’s Burden” (the directorial debut of Jared Moshé) demonstrates just why film is important, simply by being beautiful. But beyond that, it’s also a moody, violent, classic, yet modern Western.

Review: 'What Maisie Knew' Is Deeply Affecting, Hard To Watch

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 2, 2013 5:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
What Maisie Knew
It’s often an easy way to handicap your film, by centering it on a child character and demanding a great deal from the young actor. By definition, children are not fully-formed people, but a character in a film must be either fully-formed to yield proper dramatic results, or so uniquely authentic that it’s like catching chaos in a bottle, an approach that can create a serious cognitive dissonance when youth collides with seasoned actors. Remarkably, such chaos is present in young Onata Aprile, the title character of “What Maisie Knew,” an affecting new contemporary drama that never once feels phony when the camera is fixed on her face.

Review: 'Kiss Of The Damned' Is An Intoxicatingly Lusty Homage To Old School Horror

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • May 1, 2013 7:59 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Xan Cassavetes, the daughter of John Cassavetes and the director of the wonderful film world documentary "Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession," wrote and directed "Kiss of the Damned" with a wink and a nod so overt that, from the opening credit sequence, which closely mimics the similarly-titled Hammer horror movie "Lust for the Vampire," it runs dangerously close to becoming a ninety-minute game of Spot The Reference. Thankfully, the knowingness never becomes too cloying, and what Cassavetes lacks in technical proficiency, she more than makes up for in a kind of heartfelt conviction sorely lacking in the genre.

Review: Penn Badgley Is Solid In Otherwise Uneven 'Greetings From Tim Buckley'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 1, 2013 7:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
While the film might not be quite as sweet and heady as drinking a glass of lilac wine, Penn Badgley's performance in "Greetings From Tim Buckley" does justice to the late Jeff Buckley, while also revealing that the "Gossip Girl" star has quite a few more talents than he's thus far been given credit for. But his swoop of wild hair and impressive vocal theatrics aside, the rest of the movie around him tells a trio of stories that never quite unite to land the emotional connection they're aiming for.

Review: 'Manhunt' A Decent Companion To 'Zero Dark Thirty,' But Doesn't Stand On Its Own

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 1, 2013 6:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
For a classified mission, executed in secret, and monumentally changing the face of the war of terror, there is an awful lot of public knowledge about the the hunt for and killing of Osama Bin Laden. Books, magazine articles and more have proliferated at a steady pace, and then of course there's Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty," a feature film account of the intensive search for the terrorist leader all the way up the raid on the compound in Abbottabad. That film gave a narrative to the decades long investigation, involving dozens of people, multiple branches of government, false leads and more, and turned into a compelling piece of historical cinema. As such, it takes some liberties for dramatic purposes, but the basic arc is there, however for those looking for an account from those who were actually involved, "Manhunt: The Inside Story Of The Hunt For Bin Laden" doesn't quite live up the comprehensive documentary the title suggests.

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