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The Playlist

Review: 'Nancy Please'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 23, 2013 11:39 PM
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  • 2 Comments
We've all known people like Nancy. The title character of Andrew Semans' "Nancy, Please" is a real pill, dark eyes, slumped shoulders, and an eternal pout. There's always drama in Nancy's life, and she's always expressing it physically. She's always impetuous, always difficult, and frequently nasty, as if lashing out not against a single person but the world at large. In spite of it all, her punk sneer and angular sensuality is also sharp like a knife, tight like a fist. And for young potential PhD Paul, she is an out-and-out boogeyman.

Cannes Review: Masterful ‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’ Is The Sublime Story Of A Transformative Relationship

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • May 23, 2013 7:18 PM
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  • 17 Comments
Why do we watch movies? No, really, why is it? As close an answer as we’ve ever come to for our own, fairly evident obsession with what we consider the greatest storytelling medium humankind has ever developed, is well, that life is short. Bear with us a second on this: basically to submerge yourself in a story well-told is a way to live out other lives within your own, and through those complex and magical processes of identification, to breathe and dream and feel things that your own short span might otherwise never afford you.

Review: 'Before Midnight'

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • May 23, 2013 7:04 PM
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  • 2 Comments
What happened at the cliffhanger ending of 2004's "Before Sunset?" Did Jesse (Ethan Hawke) manage to catch his flight back to the United States or did he and Celine (Julie Delpy) finally re-consummate their nine-year-after-the-fact romance? These questions are answered in Richard Linklater's trilogy-concluding "Before Midnight," a charming and funny, but much more emotionally difficult and pained picture than one might have imagined. Those expecting another swooningly romantic movie are going to be in for a rude awakening. While "Before Midnight" certainly has its appealing moments of allure and levity, it's ultimately more "This Is 40"-style pain with much more honesty and real bite than Judd Apatow would likely ever go for, and when "Before Midnight" bares its fangs and becomes uncomfortable there are few moments of comedic relief or a new jaunty scene to cut to.

Cannes Review: Alexander Payne’s ‘Nebraska’ An Overfamiliar Tale Of Connections Broken & Remade

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • May 23, 2013 6:32 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Nebraska, Bruce Dern, Will Forte
There’ve been great masses of critical laurels laid at Alexander Payne’s door over the years, some, in our eyes, more earned than others. When it really hits home, the director’s quiet humanism and wry humor can yield perceptive insights, especially into certain trademark areas of expertise: family dynamics, the vanities and follies of aging men, the reluctance to let go of old dreams. But the downside to this kind of blanket approbation is that, because we know what to look for in an Alexander Payne movie, sometimes we might kid ourselves that we find things that aren’t really there. And so, we come trundling to "Nebraska," already being buzzed about as a major player here in Cannes, and certainly not a bad film in any way, but one that failed to engage us with anything like the kind of witty perceptiveness we found in, for example, “Sideways,” to reference the other two-man road trip-style film of Payne’s.

Review: While Darker, ‘The Hangover Part III’ Ends Series In Forgettable, Unremarkable Fashion

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • May 22, 2013 3:59 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Director/writer Todd Phillips' filmmaking career has been fairly inconsistent so far, but the peaks and positive results have always been hilariously effective. "Road Trip" was unexpectedly funny and "Old School," a comedy touchstone of sorts, practically invented the fratty, bromantic, arrested development comedy of man children that’s become its own cottage industry genre (Example: while "Wedding Crashers" was not written by Phillips, that comedy classic owes much of its form to his college-set comedy). Then came the uneven "Starsky & Hutch" and the compromised "School For Scoundrels," which dulled Phillips' dirty politically-incorrect comedy edge.

Cannes Review: Cannibal Tale ‘We Are What We Are’ Threatens To Give Horror Remakes A Good Name

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • May 22, 2013 12:55 PM
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  • 1 Comment
“When I saw his movie,” said director Jim Mickle in his opening thank you to Jorge Michel Grau, the director of “Somos Lo Que Hay,” “I was jealous of everything: the idea, the plot, the style, and jealous that it was playing at Cannes in Director’s Week.” And so Mickle went about securing the rights to remake the hit Mexican film, co-opting the idea, the plot and elements of the style for his English-language “We Are What We Are,” which played yesterday in Cannes, as part of, oh yes, Director’s Week. It’s a nice narrative to have surround your picture, and the admiration between the directors is mutual, as we reported recently, with Grau giving Mickle’s take fulsome, glowing praise, even calling it “an improvement of my story.” We admired the original, so could that dirtiest of concepts, the US remake, possibly live up to all the excited chatter? Happily, it does, pulling off the rare trick of remaking a strong original into a strong new version that honors the story but provides a different slant on it that feels as authentic to its transposed environment as the original did to its setting. It does a “Let Me In,” shall we say, rather than a Platinum Dunes.

Review: Provocative Doc 'We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks' Is Essential Immediate Viewing

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 22, 2013 11:35 AM
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  • 8 Comments
Titles can be sticky, none moreso than “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks.” The “we” mentioned could be speaking in first-person perspective in regards to the muckracking online collective, which helped power the biggest security breach in government history. Then again, is the story of WikiLeaks anything other than our story? The story of anyone online who’s ever wanted to know more, who ever wanted to remove the veil of secrecy? If anything, director Alex Gibney might have shot himself in the foot: he could never begin to grasp the magnitude of our collective societal curiosity that has helped bring down walls during the current administration.

Cannes Review: 'Only God Forgives' Stretches Refn's Neon-Noir Style Over Too Little Oedipal, Amoral Substance

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • May 22, 2013 6:48 AM
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  • 87 Comments
Only God Forgives
With the weight of expectation behind it, Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives” was never going to be able to deliver the same neon blue jolt of surprise that thrilled through the 2011 Cannes crowd at the first screening of “Drive.” But the audience in attendance today was prepped and primed, and practically salivating, for something that looked a little like “Drive 2” -- reuniting Refn with star Ryan Gosling in a similarly taciturn role, and also with that reflective black and fizzing blue/red aesthetic that’s as heady and addictive as a drug to the director’s fans (of whom we number ourselves, of course).

Review: 'Fill The Void' An Orthodox Jewish Romance Caught Awkwardly Between Comedy & Melodrama

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 21, 2013 6:20 PM
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  • 0 Comments
After a Cannes Film Festival which attracted criticism for including no female directors whatsoever, new Venice Film Festival head Alberto Barbera seems to be having bit of a dig at his Gallic rivals with his first year in charge. In the official selection alone, there are four female directors or co-directors, and plenty more in the various sidebars. Perhaps most notably are some from the Middle East. “Wadjda” is the first film ever made in Saudi Arabia, and that it’s made by a female director, Haifaa Al Mansour, in a country not known for its acceptance of women in positions of power is rather extraordinary (word is the film’s pretty good too: unfortunately, other commitments kept us from seeing it here, but we plan to catch up elsewhere.)

Cannes Review: 'La Grande Bellezza' An Indulgent But Dreamy Reflection On Life, Love & More

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 21, 2013 3:45 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Opening with a literal bang from a cannon and proceeding into an over-the-top party sequence, Paolo Sorrentino lets you know from the start that nothing will be held back in his latest, "La Grande Bellezza." After breaking out on the international scene with "The Consequences of Love" and "Il Divo," and then taking a jaunt into English language filmmaking with 2011's "This Must Be The Place," Sorrentino returns to his native country, for a Fellini-esque tale that isn't so much a story as a set of impressions. Life, love, philosophy, religion are just some of his subjects in an indulgent but heady piece of cinema, from a singularly distinctive voice.

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