The Playlist

Dave Grohl Producing & Directing Doc About Sound City Studio Where 'Nevermind' Was Recorded

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 1, 2012 2:44 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Provided lawsuit happy, bonafide crazy person Courtney Love doesn't sue or get in the way somehow, as she usually does with anything vaguely attached to the memory of Kurt Cobain, this upcoming documentary sounds like it could be a great treat for music fans.

Hot Docs Roundup: 'Despite The Gods' Fascinates, 'Beauty Is Embarrassing' Is Heartwarming & 'About Face' A Fun Look At Fashion

  • By Samantha Chater
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  • May 1, 2012 11:57 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Aussie filmmaker Penny Vozniak's "Lost in La Mancha"-esque documentary “Despite The Gods," following director Jennifer Lynch and her experiences making her third film in India, is a low budget docu-delight. Lynch is the beating, empathic heart of the film, an endearing combination of raw emotional honesty and self-deprecating humor. After surviving a critical flogging at 19 for her first film "Boxing Helena," and enjoying the relative success of her second film "Surveillance," Lynch still had a lot to prove with her third film. However it is clear from day one this will not be the film she envisions it to be. The film in question is "Hisss," a Bollywood action tale of a snake that turns into a woman, and then back again

Hot Docs Review: 'Big Easy Express' A Rambling, Affectionate Tour Documentary That Should Make Fans Happy

  • By Samantha Chater
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  • May 1, 2012 10:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Director Emmett Malloy has returned with an excellent follow up to 2009’s “Under Great Northern Lights” with another winning concert documentary titled "Big Easy Express." In a tight 60-odd minutes, the film follows three bands, Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and Old Crow Medicine Show, as they travel from San Francisco to New Orleans, Louisiana, on a sold-out 6-stop tour, aboard the most beautiful-looking train you've ever seen. From the opening tracking shot that follows 'Magnetic Zeroes' singer Jade Castrinos as she walks through the various rustic train cars, past Mumford and Sons playing in one, 'Old Crow' in another and right down the back to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Malloy's film is not only beautifully soundtracked, courtesy of all three bands, but is also dreamily captured.

Review: 'Payback' A Dense Dissection Of Debt Based On The Musings Of Margaret Atwood

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 27, 2012 3:04 PM
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What is the essence of debt, and what is debt that doesn't have a money solution? Canadian essayist, novelist, activist, and general "ist" Margaret Atwood pontificates on the complex nature of this kind of liability in "Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth," a non-fiction book and the spring-board for Jennifer Baichwal's concisely titled"Payback." Atwood's deconstruction of the idea is incredibly deep, at times both frightening and amusing; Baichwal attempts to translate her lecture into a documentary/video essay and succeeds in creating something original yet still retaining the strength of the author's voice. The director manages to look at what various people owe to each other, from small scale (what convicts owe to both their victims and society) to all encompassing (how we, as humans, beholden to our planet).

Tribeca Review: 'Alekesam' Feels Less Like A Short Doc And More Like An Overlong Album Promo For Sal Masekela

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 23, 2012 6:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
At 35 minutes, "Alekesam" is a short documentary with a subject that could probably fill a Ken Burns-style PBS miniseries, full of political unrest, social uprisings, and jazz music: Hugh Masekela, a musician and activist who fought against apartheid (he was exiled from South Africa for more than 30 years), struggles to reconnect with his son Sal Masekela, a former ESPN commentator who is just now embarking on his own musical career. But while the doc tries to focus on the tenuous emotional connection between a distant father and a resistant son, it ends up coming across more as a fluffy promotional piece for Sal's new album than anything genuinely probing or insightful.

Tribeca Review: ESPN Doc ‘Benji’ Is A Tragic Portrait Of Promising Hoop Dreams Unfulfilled

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 23, 2012 4:58 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Something that all hardcore sports fans, but cinephiles may not be fully aware of: ESPN’s “30 For 30” series of documentaries on various touchstone moments in sports history are all by and large, riveting and dramatic pieces of work worth watching regardless if you’re a sports fan are not. While that particular series, which was by co-conceived by ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, is now over, the range of talent it secured, directors like Spike Lee, Richard Linklater, Barry Levinson, Steve James ("Hoop Dreams"), Peter Berg, Barry Levinson, was no joke (the Zimbalist brothers' "The Two Escobars,” being one of this writer’s absolute favorites; a terrifically gripping documentary).

Tribeca Review: Upsetting, Eye-Opening 'The Revisionists' Draws Pivotal Line In The Sand In Regard To Education

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 21, 2012 6:19 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Where to start when discussing something like "The Revisionaries," a film that's really only controversial if you feel the idea to provide an idiot with a pulpit to preach from is a good one? The doc follows the fifteen-person Texas Board Of Education, an organization dedicated to reforming the state's high school textbooks over the course of a few years, allowing for a host of politically-motivated edits. You see where this is going.

Review: 'Ballroom Dancer' A Fascinating Dance Doc About The Quest For Perfection & Recapturing Past Glory

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 21, 2012 4:36 PM
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  • 0 Comments
“Ballroom Dancer” begins with black-and-white footage of dancer Slavik Kryklyvyy in 2000, on top of the world and dominating the World Latin Dance Championships. Kryklyvyy is lithe and seductive at the age of 24, slicing through routines with his equally skilled partner and lover Joanna Leunis. With his high cheekbones, piercing eyes, and a matinee-idol handsomeness that puts Johnny Depp to shame, he seems almost built from the ground up for success.

Review: Disneynature's 'Chimpanzee' Would Be Genuinely Amazing If Tim Allen Just Shut The Hell Up

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 18, 2012 2:56 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The opening moments of Disneynature’s “Chimpanzee” are genuinely jaw dropping – an emerald green jungle, more lush and 3D than the otherworldly forests of Pandora, fans out across the screen, and we’re introduced to a young male chimpanzee, named Oscar, as intricate and bewildering as any CGI creation. And then…the narration starts. In a misguided bit of synergistic back-scratching, Buzz Lightyear himself Tim Allen provides the running commentary, which is so awful that it does the unthinkable – it actually unravels much of the natural beauty presented onscreen. It’s enough that the entire time you’re thinking, “Well, maybe there’ll be a silent version on the DVD.” It’s that ridiculously terrible.

Linsane: Jeremy Lin Documentary In The Works

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 5, 2012 9:37 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Even if you don't follow sports at all and can't tell basketball from rugby to save your life, you've still likely heard about Jeremy Lin. Taking over from Tim Tebow as the hot sports topic of the moment, the New York Knicks point guard has become a media sensation. And as befitting any flash in the pan figure whose 15 minutes could run out at any moment, a documentary is in the works.

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