The Playlist

Review: 'King Kelly' Is A Scabrous Look At A Generation's Narcissism

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 29, 2012 8:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The early moments of “King Kelly,” a new found-footage movie shot entirely on the iPhone, announces it’s intentions and attitudes right off the bat. The first images are of a crowded, low-rent internet chat-room, where we’re confronted with the sight of a half-nude nubile blonde who vacuously pleads for “tips” as she masturbates. We’re trapped, and the audience is going to have to watch her show, watch her pleasure herself for her gain, your satisfaction being entirely secondary. This is King Kelly, and she’ll be the first to tell you that she’s the voice of this generation.

Review: German Rom-Com 'What A Man' Feels Like A Remake Of A Terrible '90s American Movie That Never Happened

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 29, 2012 7:02 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Fetishize it all you want: foreign audiences aren’t that much more selective than American ones. Box office trends have cemented this: garbage like the “Twilight” series steadily earned more internationally than stateside, a pattern mimicked by most generic blockbusters, particularly with the overseas embrace of the tacky 3D format. Of course, one could argue that “Twilight” is an American brand corrupting the world, but it would neglect homegrown offal like “What A Man,” a German time-waster brought to our shores by Fox International, one that reflects that the cheap seats are the same in any language.
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Review: 'California Solo' Mixes Authentic Drama With Artificial Filler

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 29, 2012 5:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Sometimes a life has to wash its hands of its best attributes in order to move on. So it goes for Lachlan (Robert Carlyle), the protagonist of “California Solo.” Doing modest work for a farmer’s market slightly off the grid, Lachlan’s youthful good looks have abandoned him, his wiry frame now dedicated to lifting barrels of radishes instead of strumming guitars. The days of starring in Brit-rock band The Cranks have been left behind, and Lachlan now nurses mysterious wounds from a career that ended in tragedy. When invited to celebrate his band’s legacy, he says, “I don’t do anything like that anymore.” Prompted further, he tersely says, “Anything interesting.”

Review: 'Universal Soldier: Day Of Reckoning' Combines Art House Intentions & Strong Action In A Franchise Return To Form

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 28, 2012 7:58 PM
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  • 9 Comments
The first “Universal Soldier,” a tacky studio star vehicle that introduced us to director Roland Emmerich, debuted to the public as a Clinton-era signifier. It featured two resurrected soldiers eternally at war, products of a system that would allow them to kill and kill again over the years, brought back to be the new world‘s attack dog heroes. An ending to that film assured us that these war-like tendencies could be either deprogrammed or eliminated entirely, as one heroic fighter (Luc Deveraux, as played by Jean-Claude Van Damme) learned to love, and one villainous antagonist (Andrew Scott, as played by Dolph Lundgren) learned to accept dismemberment. Context was the key, context which was essentially eliminated in two dirt-cheap cable sequels and a quickie theatrical follow-up, but not direct-to-DVD installment, “Universal Soldier: Regeneration.”

Review: 'New Jerusalem' A Hypnotic Film Experience About Friendship And Religion

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • November 28, 2012 7:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Despite a rather large and enthusiastic critical embrace of American neo-neo realism ("Wendy and Lucy," "Goodbye Solo," "Ballast," and a few others), there haven't been many (if any) new players entering the field. By contrast, mumblecore micro-indies are cropping up like corn, with young directors seizing the "me too" attitude and grabbing shitty cameras to capture characters in apartments talking about relationships or focusing on their own inadequacies. Some are different, some are great, and like anything, you have to wade through the shit (which still get perplexing amounts of overenthusiastic quotes) in order to find the few artists pushing for something more. The neo-neo's are fewer in number, but they're generally all worthwhile in some way, using their own brand of minimalism not to film conversations, but to start them.

Review: 'Beware Of Mr. Baker' Is A Rollicking, Dangerous & Ultimately Transcendent Ride With Cream Drummer Ginger Baker

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • November 28, 2012 6:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
This year’s SXSW had a few strong themes running throughout its selections. In the documentary category, this was seen in the numerous films about '70s rock icons such as “Paul Williams: Still Alive,” “Marley,” the preview of “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” and heck, even “Bad Brains: A Band in DC” fits into this category. But the Documentary Feature winning film, “Beware of Mr. Baker,” about Cream drummer Ginger Baker, certainly earned its award, as it blows those other (quite remarkable) films out of the water, starting with one vicious rap to the nose.

Review: Brilliant & Angry 'Killing Them Softly' Is The Anti-Thriller For Our Times

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 28, 2012 12:03 PM
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  • 6 Comments
"What is that American promise? It's a promise that says each of us has the freedom to make of our own lives what we will, but that we also have obligations to treat each other with dignity and respect," Barack Obama said at the Democratic National Convention in 2008. And that section of the speech opens Andrew Dominik's seething "Killing Them Softly," as he cuts the audio between white noise and the silent black title screen, signifying the blind emptiness of Obama's statement and the thematic current he'll be taking for the film. We are not a changed nation. We are not a nation of equals. The government are a bunch of children who need to be led by the hand into any decision-making process and Americans at both the top and bottom rungs of the ladder all have their share of the blame to take. Uncompromising and uncommercial, divisive and brave, "Killing Them Softly" bitterly boils at the state of the nation.

DVD Review: Alain Delon Shines In Otherwise Campy, Goofy 1975 'Zorro'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 26, 2012 2:57 PM
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  • 1 Comment
As long as there as been cinema, there has been Zorro. From the silent era to the multiplex, from Douglas Fairbanks to Gael Garcia Bernal, the masked hero has caught the imagination of both filmmakers and audiences. But of course, there are the forgotten films and versions of the character as well, and Duccio Tessari's 1975 "Zorro" is certainly a curiosity. Starring famed French thesp Alain Delon in the lead role, surrounded by a mostly Italian supporting cast with everyone getting dubbed later into English, perhaps the best way sum up the experience of the film is point out that the man who provided the wigs, Grazia Miccinelli, gets his own credit.

Review: 'The Rolling Stones Under Review 1975-1983' A Compelling Examination Of An Overlooked Era

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 22, 2012 10:00 AM
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  • 4 Comments
As The Rolling Stones tumble into their fiftieth year, it's easy to be cynical about the aging band, as they desperately try to stay relevant, even as rock 'n roll has evolved and moved on. Oh sure, nostalgia will sell out stadiums, as will the fact that they are living legends, but it's easy to forget that at one time they were the biggest and arguably most important rock 'n roll band on the planet. The lengthily titled documentary "The Rolling Stones Under Review 1975-1983: The Ronnie Wood Years Pt. 1" (phew) is the latest in an ongoing series of docs about the band (this is the first one I've seen), that tracks their journey a few years at time in great detail. And when we catch up with them in 1975, it could be said the band was likely in no greater peril at any other time in their history.

Review: Mini-Budget Superhero Story 'Alter Egos' Falls Short Of Creating A Distinct Mythology

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 21, 2012 3:59 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Kudos to those who want to establish their own superhero mythology in 2012. The storytelling has evolved beyond the echoes of Greek myth since Superman burst upon the scene in the 1930s, to the point where thousands of these characters have existed in multiple mediums. Filmgoers used to consider the origins of Batman as cinematic shorthand; now, they’re often deeply familiar with the deconstructionism of “Watchmen.” So forgive the crudeness -- “Alter Egos” writer-director Jordan Galland has some big brass ones.
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