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The Playlist

NYFF: Michael Fassbender Hopes For A 'De Niro/Scorsese' Relationship With Director Steve McQueen

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 8, 2011 9:11 AM
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  • 2 Comments
And Nine More Things We Learned About 'Shame' From New York Film Festival ScreeningIt's no surprise considering how spectacularly good his feature debut "Hunger" was, but Steve McQueen's "Shame" has marched through Venice, Telluride and Toronto, winning more and more fans along the way. And while there's a few months yet to come, we're almost certain that it'll appear high up on a number of year-end lists of Playlist staffers come the end of 2011. Reteaming the British director with his "Hunger" star Michael Fassbender, along with "An Education" Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan, it's an immaculately made, firmly controlled, no-holds-barred look at the life of a lonely thirtysomething who seeks solace in a string of anonymous sexual encounters.

NYFF '11 Review: 'Sleeping Sickness' A Morality Tale That Doesn't Fulfill Its Promise

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 8, 2011 2:10 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Poor Ulrich Köhler. His first feature "Bungalow" was a quiet, very reserved tale about a young soldier going AWOL. Instead of finishing his service, he gives into lethargy, laying around and doing nothing while hoping the military doesn't catch up with him. Once he's introduced to his brother's sweetheart, he finally finds his purpose: get in her pants at all costs. No, it wasn't terribly ambitious, but it was a relatively solid debut and was interesting enough to make those who actually saw it keep an eye on the new German filmmaker. Four years passed and finally his sophomore picture "Windows On Monday" was unleashed with a whimper. This film -- about a wife rejecting her routine middle-class life and responsibilities -- saw the director slightly refining his style, but also failing to make a truly deep impression in its festival run. Neither of these films were bad (in fact, this writer quite liked 'Windows'), but their meandering nature and unattractive simplicity didn't do them any favors when pitted against things like "The Free Will" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" at Berlinale. The ante had to be upped. Sensing this, Köhler uprooted and went to Africa for his latest endeavor. Would a fresh landscape invigorate his sauntering aesthetic? Now that his German brethren are stirring conversation and acclaim with their "Dreileben" trilogy series, it's an even greater chance to finally catch the attention of festival goers. Unfortunately, "Sleeping Sickness" is a lot like his previous films, much to its own detriment.

NYFF '11 Review: 'Once Upon A Time In Anatolia' A Masterful, Slow-Burn Epic

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 8, 2011 1:05 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Minimalist art filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan spent a long time crafting very personal and breathtakingly photographed tales. His work has never been big on plot, nor have they ever been anything other than glacially paced. Indeed, his general aesthetic isn't very welcoming to the impatient, though those willing to give their attention are always struck by something special. His black and white debut "The Town" is a real toughie, containing less of a story and more of a collection of moments -- but without the presence of a narrative, Ceylan is free to discover and exhibit universal beauty that isn't dependent on deep characters or drama. A "scene" in a classroom becomes magical when a feather floats into the room, with a few children continually blowing it to stay in the air. Let the tales be told elsewhere, because without being too pretentious, this was life he was capturing in its most undiluted form.

NYFF ’11 Review: ‘Paradise Lost 3’ Is Utterly Compelling, But Still Ethically Messy At Times

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 6, 2011 8:37 AM
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  • 7 Comments
Few movies have a conclusion as out-of-nowhere, compelling and yet strange as the one featured in "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory." What makes this finale even more exceptional is the fact that the film is a documentary and that this unexpected coda wasn't dreamed up inside the head of an imaginative screenwriter, but a surprise twist that occurred in these dramatic real life events.

'Pitbull' Was The Original Title Of 'The Kid With A Bike' But Distributors Turned It Down

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 6, 2011 4:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The Dardenne Brothers Hit NYFF '11 And Talk Casting, Scoring & MoreAre there any filmmakers as consistent as our favorite Belgian siblings the Dardenne Brothers? While they won't break any box office records, every instalment of the arthouse duo's output (though as per request and general lack of accessibility, we forget anything pre-1995) is generally a critical and cinephile darling, not to mention it probably holds an award from the prestigious Cannes Film Festival. And their newest offering, "The Kid With A Bike," is a home run.

NYFF '11 Review: '4:44: Last Day On Earth' Envisions The Apocalypse Without Much Imagination

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 6, 2011 3:11 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There's something very wrong in Abel Ferrara's "4:44: Last Day On Earth." The world, as the title would suggest, is coming to an end, and Ferrara, the fuck-you auteur behind "King of New York" and the non-Nic Cage-adorned "Bad Lieutenant," is content with keeping things inside a spacious apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. There aren't any fireballs ascending heavenward, or steely buildings splintering into a million computer generated pieces. The anguish here isn't global, but personal, and instead of millions of people, Ferrara zeroes in on an arty couple, played by Willem Dafoe (channeling his "Antichrist" persona of earnest concern, except with more levity and less genital mutilation) and the young Shanyn Leigh.

NYFF Adds Secret "Work-In-Progress" Screening For A Major Film; What Will It Be?

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 5, 2011 8:33 AM
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  • 36 Comments
Update: NYFF says this film will be from a "master filmmaker" not a "legendary filmmaker," and the picture is one that will be released sometime in 2011 so that changes up at lot of your guesses. Let the speculation continue...

Alexander Skarsgård Says His Dad Encouraged Him To Work With Lars Von Trier

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 5, 2011 7:18 AM
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  • 0 Comments
While Lars von Trier might get himself into trouble with everybody else and may have ruffled the feathers of Björk, who swore off acting after starring in "Dancer In the Dark," the Danish auteur has a small stable of actors who continue to return to his films. The promise of working on a set that is unlike anything else they will ever experience is a lure and coupled with the director's ambitious and at times outrageous concepts, it's just too good to resist. But for rising star Alexander Skarsgård, he received firsthand knowledge from someone very close to him who is one of von Trier's most frequent collaborators.

Kirsten Dunst Says Sci-Fi Romance 'Upside Down' Is Like An Accessible 'Brazil'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 4, 2011 6:13 AM
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  • 3 Comments
For a moment there, it seemed like Kirsten Dunst might have found her career floundering in the wake of the Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" trilogy, but not only has the actress found her footing, her upcoming roster of films would be the envy of any thesp in Hollywood. There is no better indication than "Melancholia" that Dunst is moving in a new direction. While opinion may be split on Lars Von Trier's film, there is no denying that Dunst's turn in the lead role is easily the best performance of her career, and those on the Croisette thought so too as she walked home with the Best Actress prize this spring. And unlike the events in the film, the future for Dunst after "Melancholia" is looking very bright with a number of promising projects on the horizon.

David Cronenberg Says 'A Dangerous Method' Is An "Intellectual Ménage à Trois"

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 3, 2011 5:07 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Still Hoping To Make 'Eastern Promises 2' With Viggo MortensenIt has been a very busy fall so far for David Cronenberg. His latest film "A Dangerous Method" has been traveling the globe, premiering at the end of August at the Venice Film Festival, going to Telluride and then TIFF last month for its North American debut and now, hitting the New York Film Festival. For a director whose filmography generally displays a tendency towards the freakier end of the spectrum, his new movie is bit straighter than we're used to from Cronenberg. Starring Michael Fassbender, Viggo Mortensen and Keira Knightley, the film centers on the relationship between Carl Jung (Fassbender) and Russian-Jewish patient Sabina Spielrein (Knightley), which turns sexual, ultimately causing a rift between Jung and his mentor Sigmund Freud (Mortensen), but also catalyzing strong findings in regards to Jungian psychoanalysis.

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