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The Playlist

Exclusive: Poster & Clip From Celebrated Documentary 'Informant'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 20, 2013 3:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Informant documentary
In an age of massive surveillance and whistle-blowing, trust is quickly becoming the most valuable currency of them all. As activists continue to congregate online (and offline), knowing who you can confide in with complete confidence and solidarity can be at tricky business. But what if the one person you thought you could rely on, turned out to be working for the enemy? That's at the core of "Informant," an upcoming documentary with a rather remarkable story to tell.

Review: Documentary 'Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 7, 2013 7:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The snaking guitar and clanging cowbell of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper” can be heard at the start of Amy Nicholson’s “Zipper: Coney Island's Last Wild Ride,” a new documentary opening this weekend. If anything, the tune serves as a suggestion to those upset over yet another David and Goliath story about regular citizens and bureaucratic jerks serving the needs of wealthy businesses. The Zipper itself is a twisting, thrashing carnival ride, one of the last remaining parts of the former Coney Island, left standing for months as the territory surrounding the ride was bulldozed, in an attempt to reach new lows in gentrification. To the locals, it is a landmark; to the suits, it’s a relic.

Review: 'The Nine Muses of Star Empire' Documents the Dark Side of K-Pop

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • July 31, 2013 7:38 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The Nine Muses of Star Empire
The tidal wave that is K-Pop (Korean pop music) has only just begun to crest the shores of the United States, heralded by the juggernaut of quirky rapper Psy's "Gangnam Style." However, widespread mainstream awareness in the U.S. has yet to come for many of the K-pop girl and boy bands (Super Junior, 2NE1) that bring a high-octane, flashy, fizzy brand of pop music that would put One Direction to shame (it doesn't hurt that the groups often boast upwards of seven to ten impossibly attractive young members). The documentary "The Nine Muses of Star Empire," directed by Hark-Joon Lee attempts to go behind the scenes of the K-pop star factory, with an intimate and arresting look at just what goes into this shiny, futuristic pop.

Review: 'Blackfish' Is A Heartbreaking & Effectively Damning Indictment Of SeaWorld

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • July 16, 2013 7:05 PM
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  • 17 Comments
"Blackfish"
“Blackfish” will ruin your memories of childhood. Never again will you look back fondly on traveling to SeaWorld and watching the Shamu show, jealous of the kids in the splash zone. After watching the documentary you’ll more likely go down the black hole of the internet, reading the Outside Magazine feature that inspired the film and not stopping until you’ve done more research on killer whales than a fourth grader writing a science report. Of course your ire won’t be directed at the creatures in the pools that used to seem so giant at SeaWorld; instead, it will be targeted toward those running the parks and obscuring the truth from both the public and its employees.

Review: 'The Source Family' Documentary

  • By Brandon Harris
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  • June 4, 2013 7:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The allure of cults has always escaped me. Collectivism, communism, various forms of communal religious experience, even The Borg on "Star Trek: The Next Generation" not so much; since I don’t lump especially egregious forms of each in with the garden variety pejoratives often associated with cults and their members, perhaps I’m giving in to convention. Yet whether the flavor of the month is eastern inflected or based on the ramblings of a burly sci-fi writer, I don’t have the time of day. Especially anything proselytized by folks like Jim Jones or David Koresh or Aleister Crowley I could do without, but the extreme examples always grab all the headlines. It’s not just in "Martha Marcy May Marlene" that one may glimpse modern culthood. Where previously unforeseen spiritual clarity and emotional intelligence in some newfound way is promised alongside a simple, back to the basics lifestyle, the cynical, post-aughts side of my consciousness always veers toward thinking I’ve encountered a scam. I’m sure Father Yod would be no different.

Review: 'Venus And Serena' Offers an Intimate, Inspiring Look At The Williams Sisters

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • May 9, 2013 6:05 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Venus And Serena
Though it focuses primarily on the Willams’ career and personal lives in 2011, the documentary “Venus and Serena” covers their entire lives, beginning even before the elder Venus was born. Their father Richard Williams wrote an extensive plan for his daughters' success in tennis before Venus entered the world, not taking into account her abilities (or her sister Serena’s, for that matter). The film bounces between the near-present and the past, relating their training in the early ‘90s, growth and fame in the late ‘90s and maturity in the ‘00s and beyond. Footage from old interviews is interspersed with current-day interactions with the athletes to create a holistic picture of careers that are still going strong, despite opposition throughout their time as pros. Being raised in Compton doesn’t seem to fit with many people’s ideas about the normally aristocratic sport, and that resistance didn’t end once the Williams earned their fame and fortune.

Tribeca Review: Feats Of Superhuman Strength, Filmmaking Of Uncommon Heart In 'Bending Steel'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 22, 2013 5:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
You're not likely to see a more inspiring documentary this year than "Bending Steel," the story of one Chris Schoeck, an unassuming New York gentleman with one secret passion. Schoeck is a curious character, an admitted introvert with a slight stutter whom you can tell had to be coaxed to be on camera. When he travels the subway system, bundled up for the cold weather or clad in a workout t-shirt, he's just another fellow on the train, with his casual Irish boyishness on a face that doesn't seem to smile easily. And then you see in his warehouse, standing over thick metal beams, and his gentle hands seize a steel beam. Suddenly, a bit of exertion, and it bends. He isn't Chris Schoeck. He's Chris "Wonder" Schoek.

Tribeca Review: Silence On The Front Lines Of War, In 'The Kill Team'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 21, 2013 10:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The Kill Team
There's a stomach-turning sadness at the heart of "The Kill Team," Dan Krauss' austere documentary about a soldier trapped in the cycle of violence perpetrated by a group of soldiers indicted on charges of violence against innocents in 2010. While the media was more than ready to discuss a culture of violence, utilizing "Kill Team" as a fashionable headline-filler, Krauss' film places the spotlight on Pvt. Adam Winfield. Like the upcoming "We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks," which places a strong focus on walking security breach Bradley Manning as a square peg, "The Kill Team" paints a portrait of Winfield as an overly earnest young fellow far out of his league when paired with soldiers that, when armed, simply became Boys With Guns.

Watch: Massive & Detailed 7-Hour Documentary On The Original 'Star Wars' Trilogy

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 8, 2013 10:25 AM
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  • 1 Comment
So, you think you know every single thing there is to know about the original "Star Wars" trilogy? Well, certainly, given how well documented those movies have been in the decades since they changed the sci-fi landscape, we're not surprised by your confidence. But we're pretty sure you'll find something new to discover in this massive, seven-hour documentary trilogy covering "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return Of The Jedi."

Review: ‘American Winter’ A Devastating Portrait Of The Erosion Of The Middle Class

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 18, 2013 6:54 PM
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  • 4 Comments
With the nation’s economy continually on a knife’s edge, the past few years has seen the political discourse take a marked shift. Conservative politicians have started to lure voters with an image that they will tighten the wasteful spending in Washington, but for the most part, that has meant targeting social services. Indeed, healthcare, social security and other measures that are seen as bloated programs that will sink the country into financial ruin if they aren’t severely overhauled. And all of this is being done in the name of supposedly preserving the middle class, but as the documentary “American Winter” argues, the entire approach is not only wrong headed, it’s only making things worse for the people these policies are supposed to protect.

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