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The Playlist

Review: 'Sin City: A Dame To Kill For' Starring Jessica Alba, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Josh Brolin, Eva Green And More

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 20, 2014 7:40 PM
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Sin City: A Dame To Kill For
When Robert Rodriguez’s original "Sin City" was released in 2005, the VFX-heavy neo-noir felt genuinely groundbreaking —a comic book adaptation so faithful to the source material and its striking visuals that the comic's creator Frank Miller received a co-directing credit. Rodriguez and Miller didn't so much translate sequences as much as they cut and pasted arresting tableaus straight from the graphic novel. The dialogue encompassed the same hard-boiled monologues and staccato delivery; only word bubbles were missing. But as stringently loyal as it was (much of that dialogue being clunky), the film was outstanding visually, like nothing seen before on screen.

Review: Beautiful And Unique 'Winter In The Blood'

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • August 20, 2014 7:05 PM
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Winter In The Blood
It’s been over a decade since twin brothers Alex and Andrew Smith’s film “The Slaughter Rule,” starring Ryan Gosling, debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in 2002. Their followup film “Winter in the Blood,” adapts a novel by Native American Montana author James Welch and is set in their home state of Montana, focusing on a young and troubled Blackfoot Indian, Virgil First Raise (Chaske Spencer).

Review: 'To Be Takei' Explores The Personal And Political Sides Of The 'Star Trek' Icon

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 19, 2014 7:13 PM
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  • 0 Comments
To Be Takei
Anyone who follows George Takei on Facebook, has tuned in to his frequent appearances on “The Howard Stern Show,” or marveled at one of his amazing Amazon reviews (seriously, look them up), knows that the former “Star Trek” actor lives life with an unprecedented amount of zippy good humor, especially for a man well into his seventies. And this isn’t even taking into account his tireless humanitarian efforts, mostly on the subject of gay rights. For a tiny, elderly, Japanese man, he’s also an unstoppable force of nature. In the new documentary “To Be Takei,” it becomes clear that Takei is a man who defies expectations and subverts stereotypes at virtually every turn. It’s just a shame the movie wasn’t as progressive as its subject.

Review: Enticing And Memorable Sundance Winner 'Metro Manila'

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • August 19, 2014 6:13 PM
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  • 3 Comments
If you're not into niche genre stuff like indie slasher films, Asian action flicks and ridiculously over-the-top monster movies then it's likely that you haven't even heard of the Fantasia Film Festival. For close to three full weeks this international festival descends upon the city of Montreal like a tidal wave of cinematic weirdness. The titles alone speak a thousand words: "Big Ass Spider!," "Zombie Hunter," "Curse of Chucky," "Drug War" etc. So when a movie like Sean Ellis' "Metro Manila" parachutes its way into the program, it almost feels like taking the first breaths of oxygen after a plastic bag's been lifted. Maybe it's the festival widening its range to include the sub-genres of drama, or it could be that they've succumbed to the temptation of premiering the 2013 Sundance Audience Award winner in Canada. Whatever the reason is, bless them for it.

Review: Chris Marker's 'Level Five' Displays The Work Of A Mastermind Theorist

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • August 18, 2014 7:05 PM
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Level Five
Back on the big screen as part of BAM Rose Cinema's retrospective of his work, Chris Marker’s 1996 documentary “Level Five” is a staunch reminder of the singular cinematic oeuvre left behind by the filmmaker.

Review: Funny, Emotionally Honest 'The One I Love' Starring Elisabeth Moss And Mark Duplass

  • By Cory Everett
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  • August 18, 2014 5:05 PM
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The One I Love, Duplass, Moss
At first blush, "The One I Love" appears to be just the latest standard operating relationship dramedy to pass through Sundance. But while the relationship at the center of the film is the engine that drives the narrative, there are much more mysterious things going on under the hood. The film centers on Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss), a couple currently experiencing a rough patch in their marriage. We meet them mid-therapy session in couples counseling, where we learn that Ethan has made a transgression that Sophie isn’t quite ready to forgive. So far, any attempts to rekindle the magic have gone poorly, as evidenced by Ethan’s botched attempt at recreating their first date. On that aforementioned first evening out together, the pair snuck into a stranger’s swimming pool, believing him not to be home, but quickly discovering the opposite and dashing from the property. This time the owner really isn’t home, and so they just float there as a listless, bitter reminder of just how far they’ve come from that early romance.

Recap: 'The Leftovers,' Season 1, Episode 8 'Cairo'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 17, 2014 11:00 PM
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  • 7 Comments
The Leftovers
Purpose. It's the word that's becoming something of importance to the characters of "The Leftovers." In last week's "Solace For Tired Feet," Kevin Garvey's (Justin Theroux) father tried desperately, in his own unhinged way, to lift the veil from his son's eyes, to get him to see the true reality of what's going on around them. But delivered within a package of crazy, Kevin either refused or simply couldn't see what his father tried to put in front him. And in this week's "Cairo" he's once again brought to the edge of understanding, with that word "purpose" reappearing, almost like a weapon, before the situation spins out of control, with even more left for Kevin to puzzle over and figure out.

Review: Buzzy Sundance Fossil-Hunting Documentary 'Dinosaur 13'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 15, 2014 10:22 AM
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Ever since a name as such was coined in the early 19th century, dinosaurs have been a source of fascination. The idea of huge, monstrous creatures that ruled the planet in a time before man, remaining in the present day only in skeletal fossils, have captured the imaginations of children and adults for over two hundred years. Those remains are the star attractions in museums all over the world, and have inspired stories from "Journey To The Center Of The Earth" to next year's "Jurassic World," a sequel to one-time top-grossing film in history, "Jurassic Park."

Review: WWII Drama 'Fort McCoy' Starring Eric Stoltz, Camryn Manheim, Seymour Cassel And More

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 14, 2014 7:01 PM
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WWII continues to be rich dramatic territory for filmmakers for a number of reasons, not only because it's one of the most important events in modern history, but also due to the many avenues from which a global conflagration can be viewed. But writer and co-director Kate Connor's debut feature "Fort McCoy" is an example of what happens when you try to shoehorn as many topics and themes from WWII as you can into one movie. Overstuffed, trite and empty, "Fort McCoy" attempts to mix heavy drama, slapstick comedy and romance in the unwieldy package of a coming of age story set in the summer of 1944. The film flounders on all fronts, proffering a naive and simplistic view of the murky territory between good and evil.

Review: Zombie Tale 'Life After Beth' Starring Aubrey Plaza And Dane DeHaan Lacks Bite

  • By Cory Everett
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  • August 14, 2014 6:10 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Life After Beth
In the last decade, left-of-center,"quirky" zombies have become so ubiquitous so as to reach critical mass. Just as many spoofs reach theaters as straight-ahead horror renditions. As with anything reaching its cultural saturation point, it’s the singer, not the song, and the results have been all over the spectrum, from the brilliant (“Shaun of the Dead”) to the forgettable (“Warm Bodies”). Despite significant talent both behind and in front of the camera, “Life After Beth” has trouble distinguishing itself. The film starts promisingly, opening with a foreboding shot of a girl wandering through Griffith Park, scored with ominous guitar squalls courtesy of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, who composed the film’s score, setting the tone for a film much weirder and more interesting than the one that follows.

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