The Playlist

In Theaters: 'The Master' Hopes To Not Have The Weekend 'Stolen' By 'Resident Evil' Or 'Liberal Arts'

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • September 14, 2012 5:51 PM
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It’s back-to-school season, in the real world and in Movieland, as art continues to imitate life. As you (or your kids, or a friend, or maybe just some random person on the corner) get back into the swing of the classroom, you can watch the big screen stars do the same thing! We do mean this literally, as two films this weekend are set within the hallowed walls of institutions of learning. But there are plenty of protagonists receiving informal educations (to Scientology… question mark?), learning new trades, and reintroducing themselves to the world as well. So go hit the books, then the theaters. Or vice versa: we won’t tattle.

SXSW '12 Review: Melissa Leo Shines In Minutely Observed, Minimalist 'Francine'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • March 11, 2012 2:14 PM
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Evoking films like "Winter's Bone" and "Wendy and Lucy" in presenting a sparse, narrowly focused portrait of a lone female protagonist in adverse, not to say desperate circumstances, "Francine" is the kind of small film made for the festival circuit, and for which the festival circuit was made. It is no less reliant on a powerhouse central performance than its aforementioned forebears, if anything more so, as here extraneous detail is pared back almost to the point of nonexistence, leaving Melissa Leo front and center of every scene. It is a testament to her absolutely definitive portrayal that one simply cannot imagine what the film might have looked like with anyone else in the role. Some elegant framing and photography aside, the film lives and dies on her performance, and this being Leo, at her most vanity-less and instinctive, it mostly lives.

Melissa Leo Talks 'Francine,' The "Sacred Territory" Of Acting & What She's Looking At Next

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 21, 2012 11:55 AM
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Having experienced something of a mid-career breakout with her Oscar-winning supporting role in "The Fighter," Melissa Leo's name has fast become something of a hallmark of quality. Recently she has lent her talents for startlingly authentic portrayals to the likes of "Treme," "Mildred Pierce" and Kevin Smith's "Red State," but in the Berlin Film Festival favorite "Francine" (our review is here) she lands a rare leading role in a feature, albeit a small, narrowly focused one.

Berlinale 2012 Review: Melissa Leo Shines In Minutely Observed, Minimalist 'Francine'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • February 17, 2012 1:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Evoking films like "Winter's Bone" and "Wendy and Lucy" in presenting a sparse, narrowly focused portrait of a lone female protagonist in adverse, not to say desperate circumstances, "Francine" is the kind of small film made for the festival circuit, and for which the festival circuit was made. It is no less reliant on a powerhouse central performance than its aforementioned forebears, if anything more so, as here extraneous detail is pared back almost to the point of nonexistence, leaving Melissa Leo front and center of every scene. It is a testament to her absolutely definitive portrayal that one simply cannot imagine what the film might have looked like with anyone else in the role. Some elegant framing and photography aside, the film lives and dies on her performance, and this being Leo, at her most vanity-less and instinctive, it mostly lives.

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