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The Playlist

Exclusive: Listen To Nathan Halpern's "Fourth Of July" From Sundance Winning Documentary 'Rich Hill'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 30, 2014 12:00 PM
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Rich Hill, Sundance
Filmmakers Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos didn't reinvent the wheel for their documentary "Rich Hill." They simply turned the camera on Andrew, Harley, and Appachey, three youngsters on the verge of adolescence in the titular small town, resulting in a movie that took the Best Documentary prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Review: Chilly And Joyless 'War Story' Starring Catherine Keener And Ben Kingsley

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • July 29, 2014 7:35 PM
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  • 1 Comment
War Story
What is behind the desire to punish an audience? Truthfully, few filmmakers besides Michael Haneke maybe intentionally want to torture viewers (at least I think), but many dark and depressing indie movies attempting to explore the condition of suffering can often feel excruciating. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a grim and sad narrative—one so-called “miserablist” movie I love is “Bitiful,” and last year’s bleak “Sunshine Jr.” had a lot of value. These emotions are part of our existence, thus they shouldn’t be shied away from, but rather must be examined. But what is the value when a movie wallows in these kinds of dire feelings without ever illuminating the human condition beyond the superficial notion that grief is difficult? What then?

Review: James Franco's Tossed Off And Drab Cormac McCarthy Adaptation 'Child Of God'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 29, 2014 6:32 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Child Of God
James Franco might not be the first person to debut a film he'd directed at each of the three major European festivals in the same year (Ulrich Seidl recently managed the feat with his 'Paradise' trilogy, albeit not in the same calendar year). But it's an undoubtedly impressive run, especially given that Franco has spent the same period of time starring in two legitimate blockbusters in the shape of "Oz The Great And Powerful" and "This Is The End," as well as working on his umpteen other projects of various shapes and sizes.

Fantasia Review: Award-Winning South Korean Indie 'Han Gong-Ju' Is Damaged And Beautiful

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • July 28, 2014 3:43 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Han Gong-ju
Looking over the Fantasia Film Festival guide, one quote in the “Han Gong-ju” section is conspicuous. Martin Scorsese calls the film “outstanding,” noting its "mise-en-scene, image, sound, and performance.” Last December, in his capacity as Jury President of the Marrakech Film Festival, presiding over a group including Marion Cotillard, Fatih Akin, and Park Chan-wook among others, Scorsese awarded Su-jin Lee’s debut feature film the top prize, and has been championing it ever since. When arguably the biggest cinema geek of all time (no offense to Quentin Tarantino) backs a movie with such praise, one tends to pay attention. But we find ourselves in the peculiar position where we disagree with one of the greatest living filmmakers regarding just how outstanding this film really is.

Recap: 'The Leftovers,' Season 1, Episode 5 'Gladys'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 27, 2014 11:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Ann Dowd and Amy Brenneman in "The Leftovers"
Loyalty is a bond that can be stronger than blood ties, but creating that connection requires a careful balance of trust and vulnerability to show that you can be both sensitive and stoic to the needs of someone else. But loyalty can also be dangerous, and that becomes clear in "The Leftovers' " fifth episode "Gladys," where we witness in rather chilling fashion how and why the Guilty Remnant stay so devoted to their cause even in the wake of horrific acts.

San Diego Comic-Con Review: Found Footage Time Travel Movie 'Project Almanac'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • July 25, 2014 3:49 PM
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Project Almanac
Christopher Nolan and Matthew McConaughey's appearance in Hall H wasn't the only surprise aspect of Paramount's lengthy San Diego Comic Con panel yesterday. It was also announced, after a brief clip was shown, that "Project Almanac," the Michael Bay-produced found footage time travel movie, would also be screened for select attendees. We were able to attend the screening and, while it doesn't exactly blaze a new trail, the movie is smart and knowingly acknowledges both its place in the time travel subgenre and its formal limitations as a found footage movie. That self-awareness makes it fun and silly and, yes, kind of stupid, but in ways that are mostly enjoyable and forgivable.

Review: 'Hercules' Starring Dwayne Johnson, Ian McShane And John Hurt

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 25, 2014 9:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Hercules
There are cheap costumes, cartoonish special effects and endless nonsense monologues in Brett Ratner's “Hercules." Ergo, there's also Ian McShane. HBO's "Deadwood" blew up the journeyman actor's career, making him a must-have accessory in the eyes of all casting agents. But since the end of that show, where he essayed the role of the iconic Al Swearengen, he's been lost in an increasingly inessential sea of special effects-heavy blockbusters, from “Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” to “Jack The Giant Slayer," from “The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising” to “Snow White And The Huntsman." You figure the qualifications for McShane appearing in your movie involve the least amount of acting possible. “Hercules” may be the first film where, finally, everyone is on the exact same page as McShane.

Review: Award Winning Documentary 'The Kill Team'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 24, 2014 7:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The Kill Team
There's a stomach-turning sadness at the heart of "The Kill Team," Dan Krauss' austere documentary about a soldier trapped in the cycle of violence perpetrated by a group of soldiers indicted on charges of violence against innocents in 2010. While the media was more than ready to discuss a culture of violence, utilizing "Kill Team" as a fashionable headline-filler, Krauss' film places the spotlight on Pvt. Adam Winfield. Like the upcoming "We Steal Secrets: The Story Of WikiLeaks," which places a strong focus on walking security breach Bradley Manning as a square peg, "The Kill Team" paints a portrait of Winfield as an overly earnest young fellow far out of his league when paired with soldiers that, when armed, simply became Boys With Guns.

Review: Marvel's 'Guardians Of The Galaxy' Starring Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper & Vin Diesel

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • July 24, 2014 4:00 PM
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  • 14 Comments
Guardians Of The Galaxy
Now, they’re all over t-shirts and lunchboxes, but back in 2008 when Marvel Studios were kicking off as their own self-producing entity, their characters weren’t all that well known. Captain America was probably the most familiar (along with the Hulk), but Iron Man and Thor and Nick Fury and co. were, while obviously known and loved by comic fans, pretty unrecognizable to general audiences, who knew more immediately iconic characters like Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, far better. Now, the roster of The Avengers are all household names, but with Spidey, X-Men and the Fantastic Four still under the clutches of other studios, and contracts on the original actors running out, Marvel are being forced to turn to some of their more obscure properties.

Review: Joe Swanberg's Engaging, Truthful 'Happy Christmas' With Melanie Lynskey, Anna Kendrick & Mark Webber

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • July 24, 2014 12:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Happy Christmas
As perhaps the poster boy for independent cinema in the last seven to eight years, it’s crazy to realize that lo-fi filmmaker Joe Swanberg has never been in competition at the Sundance Film Festival before. While two of his films have played in Park City previously (though one was a short segment in “V/H/S”), Swanberg and his zeitgeist-defining mumblecore movement (read: indie filmmaking with a cute name and perhaps even lower budgets than audiences were used to at the time), were actually embraced by the SXSW Film Festival and not the indie-defining organizers in Utah.

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