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The Playlist

The Essentials: Krzysztof Kieslowski

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • March 13, 2013 5:34 PM
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  • 9 Comments
It’s perhaps comical to describe a filmmaker revered in some circles as underrated when they’ve been nominated for some of the biggest prizes in cinema -- the Palme d'Or, Venice’s Golden Lion, the Academy Awards, Berlin’s Golden Bear. But perhaps because Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski never really took many of these major prizes home, and never gained global status until later in his career, we find that the filmmaker is not as revered as we’d like (though he tied for a Golden Lion in 1993). Perhaps this observation is very relative. Perhaps it’s because he didn’t enter the Criterion canon until 2006, perhaps because his career ended too abruptly just as it was truly ascending, or perhaps simply because he’s one of our most adored filmmakers: we routinely never give up an opportunity to celebrate Kieslowski’s work when we can.

20 Oddball Sci-Fi Films Of The 1970s

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 7, 2013 1:30 PM
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  • 20 Comments
Somewhere between 1968's “2001: A Space Odyssey” and 1977's “Star Wars” something happened in the culture. Storytellers, perhaps inspired by the way the hippie, counter-culture was fizzling out, combined with the still-dragging-on war in Vietnam, and post-Watergate disillusion, began to look at the future in a somewhat darker, more idiosyncratic way than had been the case before, with recurring themes of environmental disaster, utopias gone sour, and the end of all things.

Not In Kansas Anymore: The Long History Of Disney And 'The Wizard Of Oz'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 5, 2013 2:22 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Not In Kansas Anymore: The Long History Of Disney And 'Oz'
This weekend's opulent 3D fantasia "Oz, The Great And Powerful," directed by former "Spider-Man" director Sam Raimi, is one of Disney's biggest movies of the year – a dreamy, technologically advanced marvel that cost $200 million to produce and god knows how much to market. And while this is the latest film from the Mouse House to flirt with the "Wizard of Oz" mythos (originally developed in a series of best-selling fantasy novels by American author L. Frank Baum), it is far from the first. In fact, Disney has been doggedly pursuing the world of Oz, to varying degrees of success, since the late '30s. The odyssey that Disney took to get to "Oz, the Great and Powerful" is more fraught with danger, pain, and dead-ends than anything involving a yellow brick road. Thankfully, nowhere in this story does a flying monkey with the voice of Zach Braff appear.

5 Great & 5 Disappointing English-Language Debuts By Foreign-Language Directors

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • February 28, 2013 11:01 AM
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  • 11 Comments
This Friday sees the release of the much-anticipated "Stoker." The melodrama would probably be of note just because it stars Mia Wasikowksa and Nicole Kidman, but it's even more so because it marks the English-language debut of acclaimed Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook, the man behind "Sympathy For Mr. Vengeance," "Oldboy" and "Thirst," among others. The film lands hot on the heels of "The Last Stand," from Park's countryman Kim Ji-Woon, and a few months from the English-language debut of another Korean filmmaker, Bong Joon-Ho's "Snowpiercer." The three are only the latest international filmmakers to seek wider audiences and acclaim by making a film in the English language.

Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2014 Best Picture Contenders

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • February 26, 2013 2:34 PM
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  • 61 Comments
After 6-9 months of fevered speculation and prognostication, the 2012/2013 awards season climaxed on Sunday night with the 85th Academy Awards, as Ben Affleck's "Argo" took Best Picture, Ang Lee won his second Best Director Oscar, Daniel Day-Lewis became the first person to win three Best Actor awards, Christoph Waltz took his second Supporting trophy in four years, and Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence won their first awards.

15 Thrillers From The ‘70s You May Not Know

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • February 20, 2013 2:54 PM
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  • 13 Comments
Sporting the old '70s Warner Bros. logo off the top (much like "Magic Mike" did earlier in the year), Ben Affleck's "Argo" spells out its throwback intentions right from minute one -- this is going to be a picture in the mold of the '70s thriller, often coming with strong political bent. Affleck's movie is also part Hollywood satire which trades in some loose and from the hip Hal Ashby tenors, but at the end of the day, the movie is a CIA thriller with a political nature that has upset both modern day Iranian and Canadian governments.

10 Memorable Movie Witches

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • February 14, 2013 2:09 PM
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  • 4 Comments
While witches in the movies have generally been consigned to pictures we'd rather forget, it's actually pretty remarkable how diversely they've been used. From comedies to teen movies to even animated fare, the witch has provided some creative source material for writers willing to go the extra mile. And more than a few of these characters have cast their spell on us.

The Films Of Abbas Kiarostami: A Retrospective

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • February 13, 2013 2:23 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Considering the near-impossible restrictions and generally repressive atmosphere in Iran, it's extraordinary the degree to which the country's film industry has flourished in the past 30 years. Perhaps the best known of the Iranian filmmakers, internationally, is Abbas Kiarostami, who's become a staple of film festivals and increasingly beloved by film fans across the world.

Survive Hard: All The Times John McClane Should Have Died In The ‘Die Hard’ Series

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • February 13, 2013 12:58 PM
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  • 7 Comments
In 1988, when the first "Die Hard" was released, Bruce Willis' everyday action hero John McClane was something of an anomaly. This was the era of the invincible action superstar – people like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jean-Claude Van Damme, who would waltz through action movies firing machine guns, surviving explosions with the casualness of someone doing laundry or putting up wallpaper. With "Die Hard," McClane was a new kind of hero -- a New York City cop who is afraid of flying, who's deeply insecure about his marriage and who, once bank-robbing terrorists seize a Los Angeles skyscraper, forgets his shoes, embodied by an actor most knew from a primetime comedy. And while there are plenty of instances where he survives against all odds, he also gets cut, bleeds, and screws up – things that these Reagan-era he-men rarely (if ever) did. As the series progressed, things became more and more cartoon-y for John McClane, until, by the fourth film, he was just as undefeatable as the heroes he was once such a refreshing antithesis to.

John Williams Turned Down Scoring 'Heaven's Gate' & More Learned From The Criterion Edition Of Michael Cimino's Cult Film

  • By Simon Abrams
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  • November 29, 2012 10:59 AM
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  • 1 Comment
A critical re-assessment of "Heaven's Gate" is now underway thanks in no small part to the Criterion Collection, who just released on DVD and Blu Ray the new 2K restoration of the controversial 1980 Michael Cimino-directed western. The film's notoriously troubled production history, scathing first-run reviews and poor initial box office is the stuff of “movie disaster” legend, and understandably downplayed in this new, director-approved release.

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