The Playlist

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'In A World...' Directed By & Starring Lake Bell

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 18, 2013 11:01 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Lake Bell, In A World
In a world... where female writers are scarce and female writer/directors even more so, Lake Bell has done both with panache in her feature debut, “In A World...” That the film itself is a meta-commentary on the persistent and open sexism in Hollywood is even more impressive. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s funny to boot.

L.A. Film Fest Review: Pedro Almodóvar's 'I'm So Excited'

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 14, 2013 5:32 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Upon introducing his latest film, “I’m So Excited” at the opening night of the Los Angeles Film Festival, Pedro Almodovar took care to explain that in Spanish, the title of his film has a double meaning— as he said, “horny.” And yes, the characters aboard his doomed flight are indeed, very, very libidinous. Almodovar also explained that “I’m So Excited” allows him to take a catastrophe and turn it into a party. With that idea in mind, it helps to see the bigger picture Almodovar is trying to paint with what seems like a silly sex farce on a plane.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'The Iran Job' Is A Warm, Winning Tale of One Basketball Player's Experience In Iran

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 27, 2012 4:59 PM
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  • 1 Comment
During the Q&A after the screening of “The Iran Job,” director Till Schauder described how the idea for a documentary about “journeymen” professional basketball players in Iran came to him before he had a subject that could carry his documentary. His wife and producer Sarah Nodjoumi is Iranian-American, and the political repercussions surrounding these athletes pursuing a dream to play professionally, anywhere, intrigued the filmmaking duo. After starting to film the documentary with a few players who were “nice enough,” they happened upon an American player named Kevin Sheppard, from St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and instantly knew he was their man. And aren’t they lucky that they did find Kevin, because “The Iran Job” could be much different if it weren’t for Kevin’s big hearted friendliness and disarming sense of humor that obliterates cultural barriers. The result is a documentary that combines elements of the sports movie, fish-out-of-water story, political film and personal portrait that is an entertaining and fascinating look at this one man in this country.

L.A. Film Fest Review: Entertaining Romp 'Magic Mike' Will Put Its Spell On You... And Shake It Like Nobody's Business

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 25, 2012 12:16 AM
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  • 5 Comments
There’s just something about Channing Tatum. Clearly, he’s got that magic touch (why else would Paramount be reshooting “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” to add more Chan?), a certain je ne sais quoi that would inspire veteran auteur Stephen Soderbergh to bring his early life story as a Florida stripper to the silver screen, while making the ultimate male stripper movie in the process. It just so happens to be a really good film too, one that’s about more than just shakin’ what the good Lord bestowed on Mr. Tatum and pals.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'A Band Called Death' Rewrites Punk History, And Tells An Emotional Story of Faith And Family

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 22, 2012 12:01 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Nope, not The Ramones, The Clash or the Sex Pistols. Not even Bad Brains. The true punk pioneers were a band called Death, straight out of the Motor City, Detroit, and you’ve probably never heard of them until now. Thanks to some obsessive record collectors, a whole lot of serendipity, and a new documentary from Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett, Death just might be getting the retroactive respect they are more than overdue. As Henry Rollins states, it’s a great music story and Covino and Howlett have successfully transferred it into an entertaining, moving rockumentary.

L.A. Film Fest Review: The Skillfully Shot ‘Thursday Till Sunday’ Is Slow To Make Its Arrival

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 20, 2012 7:01 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Whether you are separating from your spouse or a child of parents who decide to split, divorce is a complex, sorrowful, bewildering event. It may leave questions unanswered, hearts broken, and individuals unfulfilled and without closure. Relationships are so layered that when it comes time to dissolve them, the process is anything but easy. And yet, it is at these most difficult times when the simplest words serve best. In her film, “Thursday till Sunday,” Chilean writer and director Dominga Sotomayor uses unfussy dialogue and a straightforward shooting style to translate the confusion and pain inherent in a couple’s withering marriage through the eyes of their quiet, precocious daughter.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Sister' Is A Beautifully Bleak Coming Of Age Story

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 20, 2012 6:05 PM
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  • 1 Comment
A young child is dressing in a bathroom stall. We can’t tell what he looks like, as he layers on shapeless winter clothing and a neoprene mask hides all discernible features save for a pair of bright, knowing eyes. He goes through the pre-ski ritual, bundling up before braving the windy, snowy landscape of the mountain ahead. Except that this child isn’t dressing for a day of skiing, but rather a day of stealing. It isn’t until he lifts a backpack and a jacket, returning to the stall to sort through his loot, that his babyish face and soft, dirty blonde hair are revealed. This is the opening scene of “Sister,” the sophomore feature from Swiss director and co-writer Ursula Meier. The film, which won a Special Mention Silver Bear award at this year's Berlin Film Festival, examines the process of coming of age, and the challenges that face us as we arrive at adulthood.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Girls' Star Alex Karpovsky's 'Red Flag' Is A Hilarious Meta Dark Comedy That Showcases Some Promising Talent

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 20, 2012 2:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Watching “Red Flag” at a film festival is a delightfully meta affair. In fact, the whole film is delightfully meta, a darkly funny autobiographical road movie from "Girls" and "Tiny Furniture" star Alex Karpovsky. Yes, he's not just one of Dunham's boys on the hit HBO show, he's also a promising filmmaker in his own right, and he plants his 'Flag' definitively.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Four' Is A Remarkable & Moving Portrait of Solitude

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 19, 2012 1:59 PM
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  • 5 Comments
We are all faced with loneliness at one time or another, perhaps for longer periods than we can understand or accept. In a modern world, with all the connectivity our technology and our society have to offer, we may still be confronted by the looming threat of isolation. This condition of being alone, of lacking a friend, lover, or confidant in which to share your most personal self is the subject of “Four,” written and directed by Joshua Sanchez. In its relatively brief 76 minutes, the film provides a beautiful commentary on this state, a quiet and poetic meditation on the solitude of the human condition.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Gayby' Is A Slightly Amusing Little Comedy About...You Guessed It, Babymaking With Your Best Gay

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 19, 2012 12:58 PM
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  • 0 Comments
You have one chance to figure out what “Gayby” is about. If you said “gay baby,” ding ding ding, you got it! Or maybe it should be “baby with a gay,” but at any rate, “Gayby” treads the familiar narrative path of the contentious relationship between the single woman and her biological clock. Much like Madonna and Rupert Everett in “The Next Best Thing,” college buds Jen and Matt (Jennifer Harris and Matthew Wilkas, real life college buds, check out their snapshots in the title sequence) decide to make a go of this whole babymaking business (yes, the old fashioned way).

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