The Playlist

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'La Camioneta' Provides An Intimate And Hopeful Look At Modern Migration

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 28, 2012 3:19 PM
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The Guatemalan documentary “La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus,” from American director Mark Kendall, sheds light on a little known connection between the United States and Central America. After discovering that most of Guatemala’s public transportation buses – known as camionetas – are actually refurbished American school buses, Kendall set out to capture the process by which these vehicles gained a second life. In doing so, he has created a work of sociological significance as well as a surprisingly personal account of a community that has ensured its survival by salvaging these buses.

L.A. Film Fest Review: In 'Teddy Bear,' Bodybuilders Are People Too; Show Them Some Love

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 27, 2012 6:02 PM
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Where the phrase “Teddy Bear” implies a certain squashy cuddliness, the film’s subject is anything but. At least on the outside. But, then again, bears aren’t that cuddly in real life either. Danish Director Mads Matthiesen developed this feature from his acclaimed 2007 short, “Dennis,” which began his exploration of the emotional resonance of an ultra-masculine figure in an incredibly emasculating situation. In the full-length version of the story, the man’s humiliation and powerlessness evolve into the quiet self-confidence of a person who has found acceptance. Upon peeling back this teddy bear’s layers of fun skin, we begin to see the soft cotton that gives him his true shape.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Pincus' Is An Ambiguously Formatted, Inconclusive Study Of Spirituality And Self-Destruction

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 27, 2012 2:55 PM
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One of the best things about film festivals is that they provide an opportunity for smaller, perhaps lesser-known movies to be shown to a considerable audience, and to receive a certain amount of buzz from publicists, press, and fans. Sometimes, festival planning committees choose these independent films because they are quite experimental and thus bring new talent onto the film industry’s radar. Whether testing unconventional narrative formats, employing unusual filming techniques, or using unknowns or non-actors, typical festival fare is anything but what we’ve come to expect at the multiplex.

L.A. Film Fest Review: The Well-Acted 'LUV' Suffers From Gaps In Plausibility

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 26, 2012 2:23 PM
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  • 5 Comments
This year’s L.A. Film Fest has showcased a number of coming of age stories that feature very young characters at their centers. Filmmakers are forging stories as seen from the minds of these children, making use of their innocence and unawareness to present deconstructed interpretations of the world. “LUV” is one such piece, presenting a primer on the tough streets of Baltimore, educating its audience through the experiences of its youthful, naïve protagonist. Introducing this film to the audience, director and co-writer Sheldon Candis verbalized this intention perfectly, calling it a fable for the 11-year-old main character, a story about “how he sees the world versus what’s actually there,” and what happens when he discovers that everyone is human.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'It's A Disaster' Is A Darkly Hilarious Apocalyptic Dramedy That's Anything But Disastrous

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 26, 2012 10:58 AM
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Real time, one setting films are a tricky feat to pull off, stumping even some of the most accomplished directors (have you seen “Carnage”?), but Todd Berger does it with panache in his directorial sophomore feature, a clever take on the apocalypse film, “It’s A Disaster.” Assembling a cast of eight actors in one house for a film that’s part relationship dramedy and part end of the world movie, Berger keeps the setting fresh and the pace moving in this film that takes a humorous look at the problems both epic and trivial that threaten to ruin lives. Based on the raptuous response from packed houses at the Los Angeles Film Festival this week, Berger and co. have succeeded in spades.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Neil Young Journeys' Is An Exhilarating & Emotional Ride With The Rock Star

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 21, 2012 4:23 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Neil Young is a salty dude. Forthcoming, irreverent, introspective, and witty, even as he approaches his mid-sixties, the musician has lost none of his rockability. The man is still writing new songs, for crying out loud, now nearly 50 years after the inception of Buffalo Springfield made him an international sensation. Jonathan Demme’s new rock documentary, “Neil Young Journeys,” is the third collaboration between the director and the musician, following 2006’s “Heart of Gold” and “Trunk Show” in 2009. The two first met when Young was composing the closing song for Demme’s 1993 film, “Philadelphia,” and this trilogy was conceived of not too long after. In this last installment – part concert video, part interview-on-the-go – Young, and his saltiness, are given their full due in an electrifying rock doc that will make you want to stand up and cheer.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Juan Of The Dead' Is A Uniquely Cuban Take On The Zom Com & A Hell Of A Good Time

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 20, 2012 1:57 PM
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“Juan of the Dead,” Cuba’s first zombie movie, has garnered attention just for its mere existence -- a zom-com shot on location in Havana! What a new and exciting cinematic oddity! Despite, and because of its exotic origins, “Juan of the Dead” lives up to the hype, more than delivering the goods as a raucous horror comedy, deeply schooled in the zombie genre, with a uniquely Cuban flavor.

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