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The Playlist

Review: Ulrich Seidl’s ‘Paradise: Love’ A Difficult But Provocative Watch With An Astounding Central Performance

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • April 26, 2013 8:01 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Black/white, rich/poor, fat/thin, female/male, old/young -- these are just a few of the dichotomies explored in the first of the 'Paradise' trilogy from Austrian director Ulrich Seidl. Our chronology is a bit messed up, since we already reviewed (very favorably) the second entry “Paradise: Faith” out of Venice, but having missed ‘Love’ in Cannes, we were happy to catch up with it at a very packed screening at the Göteborg International Film Festival earlier this year. Perhaps "happy" is the wrong word: “Paradise: Love” proved a frequently uncomfortable and rather overlong watch, but we still came away profoundly impressed and not a little troubled by the questions it raises, and the unflinching, uncompromising way in which it does so.

Tribeca Review: 'The Machine' Is A Fastball Down The Middle For Genre Die-Hards

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 25, 2013 8:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Machine
Even though science fiction allows for the widest possibility of storytelling, it often seems like there are really only three or four sci-fi stories, and they stopped creating them after the eighties. How else to explain an industry overwhelmed by the amount of low-budget takes on "The Terminator" and "Blade Runner" like "The Machine," a junky piece of escapism so heavily indebted to those films that it is barely amusing on its own?

Review: Overstuffed 'Love Is All You Need' An Unsatisfying, Predictable Rom-Com From Susanne Bier

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • April 25, 2013 7:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
What’s up with those crazy Danish filmmakers and their compulsion to pile it on? The latest from Oscar-winning filmmaker Susanne Bier (“In A Better World”) is like watching a long game of Jenga. As every sub plot, reveal and character… err, caricature that is, gets stacked on top of each other, the more inevitable it is that the whole thing will come tumbling down. And while “Love is All You Need” is by no means a disaster, it simply can’t support all that weight.

Tribeca Review: Featherweight 'Just A Sigh' A Wayward Romance That Immediately Fades From Memory

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 25, 2013 6:40 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Just A Sigh, Gabrielle Byrne
Some of us are floating in the water, waiting for that big wave that we can ride, one that will let us surf to another place where the water’s warmer, less choppy, and in some cases, soaked with less tourist piss (which may or may not be part of the metaphor). One of these people is Alix (Emmanuelle Devos) of “Just a Sigh,” a working actress still stuck in a holding pattern. Now in her forties, she clutches her cellphone, praying for a call from a sometime-boyfriend. What we learn of this man suggests whatever feelings that exist may not be mutual, and while Alix tells a girlfriend that she’s going to visit him, suggesting that she may try to establish their relationship face-to-face, the defensive way that Alix expresses herself suggests she’s tried this before.

Tribeca Review: Kiwi Cannibal Comedy 'Fresh Meat' Is A Silly, Tasty Treat

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 25, 2013 4:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Fresh Meat
There’s a certain expectation that comes with attending a horror-comedy with a ridiculously on-the-nose title. And in that respect, “Fresh Meat” delivers on its promise as a deliriously off-the-wall splatterfest with absolutely zero pretension. You could guess that Kiwi director Danny Mulheron was a Peter Jackson acolyte (he worked on Jackson’s puppet classic “Meet The Feebles”) by just closing your eyes and listening: the smack of slabs of meat slapping against each other, the screams of proudly ridiculous mega-acting, and the perfectly-calibrated physical violence that suggests a silly symphony of onscreen slapstick are all strengths that used to be exhibited in the work of Mr. Jackson, before he traded his integrity for some elf ears in Hollywood.

Review: Deeply Felt, Thrilling 'Mud' Shows Director Jeff Nichols & Matthew McConaughey At The Top Of Their Games

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • April 25, 2013 11:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Matthew McConaughey, Mud
It all starts with a beautifully surreal image: a decrepit boat resting comfortably in the branches of a tree. The young boys who find it want to use it, make it their own. But on this particular river island in Arkansas, they are not alone. It's not long before they encounter Mud (Matthew McConaughey, sporting a large snake tattoo and a chipped front tooth a la Jim Carrey in "Dumb & Dumber"), who's not only the namesake of Jeff Nichols' brilliantly constructed, emotionally satisfying genre deconstruction, but also the film's hero and anti-hero.

Tribeca Review: 'Lily' Is A Modest But Genuinely Affecting New York Picture

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 25, 2013 9:56 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The Tribeca Film Festival is designed to explore different areas of the world, providing a mouthpiece for filmmakers and regions that normally would not have representation at a more celebrated fest. But Tribeca has also discovered the importance in finding expressive and interesting voices locally, placing an importance on films that speak to New York and capture the specific rhythms of the city, the way the streets seem to pulse, the subways scream, and the passersby have enough personality to fill a city block. It takes a particularly astute filmmaker to perfectly capture those vibes: so many films have made the city appear anonymous, generic, without personality. But director Matt Creed clearly gets the appeal of a place romanticized by locals and visitors, and how the drama experienced in the city is given an added dimension by our environment, in "Lily." To watch the film is to witness that famed image of a flower growing from between two slabs of concrete, to see beauty blossom in a unique environment.

Tribeca Review: 'Möbius' Spins Off In Too Many Directions You Won't Want To Follow

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 24, 2013 8:00 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Who can you trust? It’s the question posed by the international spies at the heart of “Mobius,” all of whom spend their time so deep undercover that they might as well be double-crossing themselves. Of course, as this film proudly, defiantly jumps deep into the pool of international finance trading (which may actually be a thing, or might just be three buzzwords slammed together given the rapid-fire patter of this film), the question audiences will likely be asking is, who can we avoid trusting so we aren’t a part of this whole mess?

Review: 'Graceland' Mashes Together Suspense Thriller With Sobering Child Trafficking Drama, With Mixed Results

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 24, 2013 7:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Mild-mannered husband and father Marlon Villar is just having one of those days. The boss is on his case. His wife is being needy. His daughter is acting up. The cops are bugging him. “Graceland” begins as a compendium of what some adults would call a terrible, horrible, very bad, no good day. Wah wah.

Review: Ramin Bahrani's 'At Any Price' A Patchy But Powerful Melodrama With A Fantastic Performance By Dennis Quaid

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 24, 2013 5:59 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Zac Efron, At Any Price
The first three feature films by Ramin Bahrani – 2005’s “Man Push Cart,” 2007’s “Chop Shop” and 2008’s “Goodbye Solo” -- were extremely well-regarded by festival and art-house crowds (Roger Ebert called Bahrani “the director of the decade”), but barely made a dent on the wider cultural consciousness, receiving fairly limited releases and so far, making Bahrani a favourite of cinephiles, but far from a crossover success. But five years since his last film, Bahrani is back with "At Any Price," a film that threatens to push him towards the mainstream, with a starry cast and distribution from Sony Pictures Classics.

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