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The Playlist

LAFF Review: Nathan Silver's 'Uncertain Terms' An Affecting and Deftly Told Family Affair

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 17, 2014 2:12 PM
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Uncertain Terms
Filmmaker Nathan Silver is on his fourth feature film in about as many years, and the latest, “Uncertain Terms,” continues in the style of naturalistic, bittersweet tales. It’s a family affair for Silver, as he often casts his mother, Cindy Silver, and in “Uncertain Terms” he even takes inspiration from her own life story. Silver the matriarch plays Carla, the proprietress of a home for pregnant teenagers, much like the one where she spent sometime as a teenager herself, and Silver the director/co-writer makes an appearance as her layabout son Lenny, whose cousin Robbie (David Dahlbom) shows up at a moment’s notice when his life gets turned upside down. The resulting film is a wry, oddly funny, but poignant work that showcases Silver’s laid-back, but effective cinematic storytelling style, and talent for shaping performances from non-traditional actors.

LAFF Review: Debra Granik's Doc 'Stray Dog' A Sensitive Portrait of Memory, Trauma, and Biker Culture

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 16, 2014 3:25 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Stray Dog, documentary
When “Winter’s Bone” writer and director Debra Granik ventured to Missouri to make the film, she returned with more than she expected — the subject of her next film, in the form of Ron “Stray Dog” Hall, a biker and Vietnam vet with a heart of gold and a head full of nightmares. Granik brings an un-showy, observational documentary style to this intimate look at Stray Dog’s life, navigating his trusty Harley along Missouri’s open road, with his new Mexican wife, Alicia, riding on the back of the bike.

Exclusive: First Clip & Poster For LAFF Film 'Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • June 16, 2014 2:10 PM
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Holbrook/Twain: An American Odyssey
There's no word that suits Hal Holbrook better than 'legend.' The 89-year-old actor and veteran has a career stretching back sixty years, with a long history of movie roles (most famously playing Deep Throat in "All The President's Men"), and continues to work regularly today, winning an Oscar nomination for his part in "Into The Wild," and currently appearing on acclaimed TV series "Rectify."

LAFF Review: Jess Weixler And Jennifer Prediger’s ‘Trouble Dolls’ Finds More Drama Than Laughs In Superstition

  • By Charlie Schmidlin
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  • June 16, 2014 10:16 AM
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Trouble Dolls
A general rule of thumb: if Jeffrey Tambor appears in one or two scenes out of a film, it’s a safe bet those are the best one or two scenes overall. As a trespassing landlord fond of tenant hookups and unannounced showers in their homes, Tambor all but runs away with “Trouble Dolls,” the writing and directorial debut of Jess Weixler (“Teeth”) and Jennifer Prediger (“A Teacher”), but his scenes prove damaging—they bookend the film, leaving 80 minutes of fitfully wry and unusual humor in between.

LAFF Review: 'Echo Park' Proves The Perfect Place to Get Lost And Find Yourself

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 15, 2014 11:00 AM
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  • 3 Comments
In “Echo Park,” photographer Amanda Marsalis, making her feature directorial debut (with a script written by Catalina Aguilar Mastretta), paints a love letter of sorts to the titular Los Angeles neighborhood, interwoven with the tale of love lost and found between two souls searching for their place. Sophie (Mamie Gummer), is an unhappy Beverly Hills Housewife-to-be when she unceremoniously cuts herself loose from her predictable life and decamps across town to the hipster hood of Echo Park. In her new neighborhood, she gets more than she expected when meeting Alex (Tony Okungbowa) to buy his couch. He’s moving back to London, you see, and the two fall into the kind of easy and deep intimacy that happens when there’s no risk of long term commitment.

LAFF Review: ‘Billy Mize And The Bakersfield Sound’ Is A Warm Look At One Of Country Music’s Hidden Titans

  • By Charlie Schmidlin
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  • June 14, 2014 7:30 PM
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While the musical biopic today suffers from inescapable story arcs and tired imitations, thankfully a good story remains that way when told by those who actually lived it. Consider well-made music docs a personal sweet spot -- a blend of archival footage, a famous record, and an aged, accented character explaining how, when they tweaked a guitar amp then threw it down a city sewer, the song’s tone really took off. “Billy Mize and The Bakersfield Sound” adopts this path, charting the rise of a unique style in the mid-‘50s Southern California country scene, but more importantly it highlights one of the pivotal figures that helped it thrive.

L.A. Film Festival Exclusive: Clip From Prison Escape Artist Documentary 'The Life And Mind Of Mark DeFriest'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 22, 2014 10:05 AM
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The Life And Mind Of Mark DeFriest
There are a few ways you can spend your time in prison: putting your head down and doing the time, fighting the system that put you there in the first place or simply trying to find a way to survive. But for Mark DeFriest, he spent his time behind bars concocting ways to break out. And his fascinating story is coming in the documentary "The Life And Mind Of Mark DeFriest."

Bong Joon-Ho's ‘Snowpiercer’ Will Open The L.A. Film Festival On June 11th

  • By Edward Davis
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  • April 1, 2014 3:32 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Snowpiercer
I can’t remember the last time the media squawked so hard over a movie. It seemed like there was two years of fighting over “Snowpiercer,” Bong Joon-ho’s sci-fi thriller that’s been seen over most of the world and not North America. Harvey Weinstein owns the right and there was a protracted battle over the length of the movie that had bloggers crying foul over his “Scissorhands” ways.

L.A. Film Fest Interview: 'Four Dogs' Team Talks Comedy, Drama, Honesty & Friendship

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 28, 2013 4:48 PM
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One of our favorite films from L.A. Film Fest last week was the lo-fi dramedy “Four Dogs,” about two unlikely friends making it through the Hollywood doldrums. Our review called it, "unflinchingly honest in its portrayal of this little pocket of humanity, it finds both the pathos and humor in the moments of real life that are truly funny and truly sad." We had a chance to catch up with the film’s writer/director Joe Burke, actor/writer Oliver Cooper, and actor Dan Bakkedahl to talk about reality vs. fiction, the most important element in comedy (and drama) and what it’s like to play yourself onscreen. Here are a few highlights from our conversation.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Levitated Mass' Tells the Story Of A Rock Star Meeting The Masses

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 27, 2013 5:58 PM
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The new documentary from Doug Pray, "Levitated Mass," is a story about an artist, a museum, a city, a piece of art. But what it's really about is a rock. A rock that's a star. Quite possibly one of the most famous rocks in the world, Levitated Mass, the massive monolithic land sculpture by land artist Michael Heizer that currently resides at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It's a story of hope, inspiration, fellowship, and the definition of what art is to the many individuals that make up the public that experienced Levitated Mass in its journey to LACMA. The film is all of those things because of Doug Pray, who is an immensely talented documentarian ("Hype!", "Scratch," "Art & Copy," and more

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