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The Playlist

Review: 'With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story' Is Breezy And Somewhat Superficial But Tons Of Fun

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • May 3, 2012 3:03 PM
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Few figures in comic book lore command the attention and devotion of Stan Lee. Now in his late eighties, with a grey-white caterpillar of a moustache perpetually perched atop his upper lip and oversized, dark-tinted glasses, he’s an easily identifiable character, as iconic as one of his pop culture creations (Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and the X-Men, to name a few), and just as important. But many don’t know the story behind the man. “With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story,” a zippy and somewhat superficial documentary, attempts to fill in some of that backstory, and the result is as compulsively entertaining and colorful as any Marvel comic book. Excelsior!

Review: '65_Redroses' A Compelling, Inspiring Doc That Will Make You Want To Take A Breath & Appreciate Those Roses

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • May 2, 2012 12:02 PM
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Take a deep breath. Unless you have cystic fibrosis, this is probably something you take for granted. About halfway through the documentary "65_Redroses," which documents the life of CF sufferer Eva Markvoort, you might find yourself gasping for air, if only to relish in your ability to do so. "65_Redroses" refers to Eva's online handle with which she communicates with other CF patients, and her connections with them are an integral part of her story. But the spine of the film belongs to Eva, as she is such a compelling and arresting persona from the outset, that audiences can't help but be drawn in by her.

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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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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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.

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