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The Playlist

Retrospective: The Directorial Career Of Elaine May

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • August 8, 2013 12:03 PM
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  • 2 Comments
What is the statute of limitations on a notorious flop? Elaine May’s “Ishtar” finally gets a North American Blu-ray release this week (the rest of the world has had the DVD since 2004), a release that was itself delayed by two and a half years from its originally mooted date of January 2011—an ironic echo of the protracted and painful post-production process the film went through back in 1986/87. But then, nothing about the production and release of "Ishtar" was simple, just as there is nothing particularly straightforward about its brilliant, elusive and often "difficult" writer/director.

The 5 Best Episodes Of 'Breaking Bad'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 7, 2013 2:00 PM
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  • 16 Comments
This Sunday sees the beginning of the end of an era. Because on Sunday, AMC will premiere the first of the final eight episodes of "Breaking Bad," which over the last five-and-a-bit years has firmly taken its place among the pantheon of TV drama, winning an ever-growing following, rave reviews and fistfuls of awards. For the uninitiated (and really, how many of there can you be now?) the series follows Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher already struggling to make ends meet when he's diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Desperate to provide for his family, he teams up with Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), a deadbeat former student, to cook crystal meth. Complications, as you might imagine, ensue.

The 5 Ways Hollywood Gets Porn Wrong

  • By Ben Brock
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  • August 7, 2013 1:02 PM
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  • 26 Comments
Hollywood has a dirty secret... Alright, Hollywood has thousands and thousands of dirty secrets, but it has one that's extra-dirty, and extra-secret. It's this: it's not the only movie business in America, or California, or even L.A. Just up the road, there's a whole other system of studios and stars and sound-stages, and Hollywood really, really doesn't like to talk about it.

DVD Is The New Vinyl: Rock Hudson Has 'Seconds,' Nazi Escapes & 'Ishtar'

  • By Aaron Hillis
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  • August 6, 2013 3:06 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Before digging into early-to-mid August's disc highlights, I'd like to set the Way Back Machine to two weeks ago and point out some eclectic late-July gems we missed, such as Twilight Time's exquisite Blu-ray edition of Walter Hill's 1978 neo-noir "The Driver," Olive Films' unexpected release of Anthony Mann's 1958 brazen, quasi-hicksploitation melodrama "God's Little Acre," and the Warner Archive re-release of 1998's eccentrically funny "Zero Effect," starring Ben Stiller and Bill Pullman as a socially stunted private investigator. From Europe, Raro Video lived up to their name with a rare trilogy of gritty moralist thrillers in "Fernando di Leo: The Italian Crime Collection (Volume 2)," Music Box Films stressed us out with the terrifically icy German thriller "The Silence," and sci-fi didn't get more provocative than the erotic Lithuanian curiosity "Vanishing Waves" (which Artsploitation lovingly packaged as a two-DVD set that includes director Kristina Buozyte's feature debut "The Collectress"). Are you caught up? Super, let's push on...

Retrospective: The Directorial Career Of Paul Schrader

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • August 5, 2013 12:06 PM
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  • 11 Comments
With the screenplays for Sydney Pollack’s “The Yakuza” (1975), Brian De Palma’s “Obsession” (1976), John Flynn’s “Rolling Thunder,” Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver” (1976) and “Raging Bull” (1980) under his belt, Paul Schrader's legacy as a seminal figure in 1970s American screenwriting was unassailably assured. Yet not only did he go on to write "The Mosquito Coast" and Scorsese's "The Last Temptation Of Christ," he has also enjoyed a long, diverse career as a director, with his most recent foray being released last week: the controversial, chatter-worthy "The Canyons" (you can read our review here).

8 Established Filmmakers Who Reinvented Themselves With Risky Low-Budget Efforts

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • August 1, 2013 3:57 PM
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  • 12 Comments
This Friday will see the VOD release of Paul Schrader's much talked about "The Canyons," a film both inspired by and conceived for the post-theatrical era (though it will receive a limited theatrical run starting out in NYC and Toronto). The film, which revolves around a toxic producer (adult star James Deen) and his girlfriend (Lindsay Lohan), is a collaboration between "American Psycho" author/enfant terrible Bret Easton Ellis and "Taxi Driver" scribe Schrader, whose directorial career includes "American Gigolo" and "Affliction." After the duo failed to get a studio-financed shark attack movie off the ground, they decided to pursue something on a smaller scale that would required fewer gatekeepers. Schrader's email to Ellis read, "Enough of this. Let's just do something ourselves. The economics are right. You write it, I'll direct it, we'll pay for it, and we'll make cinema for the post-theatrical era." And so "The Canyons" was born.

13 Films You Should See In August

  • By Kristen Lopez
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  • August 1, 2013 2:00 PM
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  • 13 Comments
12 Films You Should See In August
August usually means backpacks, school, and the slow slog to the holidays and the end of the year (can you tell I’m not looking forward to summer‘s end?). One place where the end isn’t apparent is at the local multiplex, where there is so much going in August that I’m throwing in an additional two films for you on top of the requisite ten! Just think, August used to be a dumping ground for films that weren’t bombastic enough for summer but lacked the Oscar clout for the winter; now it’s that special time where independent films can flourish and audiences can remember why they love movies in the first place.

25 Films About First Love To Fall For

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • August 1, 2013 12:59 PM
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  • 15 Comments
This Friday sees the release of James Ponsoldt's "Smashed" follow-up, the tenderly drawn coming-of-age teen story "The Spectacular Now." Boasting standout performances from young leads Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, the film, which we reviewed out of Sundance and called "valuable and honest," evokes the growing pains of the unusually real-feeling central duo via a familiar conduit—the story of their first love. Romantics that we are at heart, we took this opportunity to sit on our sofas for a week with a bucket of ice cream and a pack of kleenex, revisiting a slew of films that share that theme. Given the breadth of the field, we've done our best to concentrate on films that take first love as their primary theme, but it should be noted that it crops up as a subplot with astonishing frequency, too.

10 Actors Hollywood Tried And Failed To Make Happen

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • July 31, 2013 1:21 PM
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  • 146 Comments
Actors That Hollywood Tried to make Happen and failed
This week, a small-scale indie Australian surfing movie called “Drift,” which details two surfing brothers struggling to overcome their debt-ridden backgrounds and avoid a descent into criminality, opens in limited release. It shares almost nothing in common with the Biggest-Movie-Of-All-Time “Avatar” except its star, Sam Worthington, who in fact plays third lead here behind two largely unknown Aussie actors as the brothers. If it seems like a far cry from Pandora for Worthington, well, that’s because it is. Nothing to do with the quality of the film, but just in terms of the whisper-quiet buzz it’s getting, which Worthington’s presence alone should have beefed up if his stock in Hollywood meant anything at all. Yet despite a concerted effort that happened back there, Worthington just hasn’t ever become a bankable studio lead, and so here we are.

The Essentials: 7 Great John Carpenter Movies

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • July 30, 2013 12:43 PM
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  • 8 Comments
John Carpenter Essentials
This week, "The Fog," filmmaker John Carpenter's 1980 chiller about a fog that rolls into a sleepy seaside community carrying with it ghostly visitors, will be re-released on Blu-ray and DVD by Shout Factory, complete with a host of all new special features (including a wonderful, retrospective conversation with Jamie Lee Curtis that doesn't just cover her collaborations with Carpenter but goes on to include a frank discussion of most of her genre work from that period). With its pristine picture quality and sound, it goes a long way in reminding you what a skilled technician and artist Carpenter truly is, able to conjure forth visions of nightmarish clarity, nearly out of thin air. This is a director capable of keeping you up at night, but one who isn't interested in a cheap scare. When asked to give advice to young filmmakers, he said, simply, "Play for history if possible." That's certainly what Carpenter has tried to do; and to celebrate this recent release we've decided to run down seven of his most essential films. Frequent collaborator Kurt Russell has said of his friend that he "sees the world slightly askew." As a Russell character in a John Carpenter movie would say: no shit.

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