The Playlist

Our Karlovy Vary Film Fest Reviewer Experiences A Personal Epiphany At Mark Cousins’ ‘What Is This Film Called Love’

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 5, 2012 3:19 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Ok, this is going to be a tricky one. Celebrating its international premiere at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, having only screened before at the festival in Edinburgh, the new film from Mark Cousins had on us such a completely subjective and personal level that it all but defies attempts to marshal those scattered impressions into a coherent, generalised review. But said effects were so positive for us that we're going to try anyway. Essentially, we were charmed beyond belief by this rambling, philosophizing self-described "ad lib" of a film, but we absolutely can't guarantee the same reaction from anyone else.

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Review: Thomas Vinterberg's 'The Hunt' Will Come After You And Not Let Go

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 5, 2012 2:05 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Like many directors who make a big splash with an early feature, Thomas Vinterberg did not have an easy time of it thereafter. And while we don’t particularly understand the critical opprobrium heaped on, for example, “Dear Wendy,” a film this writer admires, it’s clear that he has not fully lived up to the potential on display in his landmark 1998 film, “The Celebration.” After all, that film not only launched his career into the arthouse stratosphere, it launched a whole movement, and has arguably never been bettered as the definitive iteration of what Dogme should and could be.

Review: 'Katy Perry: Part Of Me' Pulls You Into The Performer's DayGlo World

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • July 5, 2012 9:56 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Katy Perry is a pop sensation like few others in the cultural landscape of 2012 – less arty and pretentious than Lady Gaga, more wholesome and sweet than Rihanna – she is the wayward daughter of a pair of Pentecostal preachers, one who has succeeded with a sugar-sexy shtick that teases just enough to get your blood up, but never enough to be tacky or obscene. And "Katy Perry: Part of Me," is a movie like few others. It's ostensibly a concert movie about her 2011 world tour that digs surprisingly deep into biographical material and comes up with the portrait of an artist as a young, heartsick woman. It's not exactly "Madonna: Truth or Dare." No, this is much more colorful, in every sense of the word.

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Review: Even Helen Mirren Can't Save 'The Door'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 3, 2012 3:27 PM
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  • 2 Comments
If you were to attempt to genetically engineer the perfect film for Karlovy Vary, Eastern Europe’s biggest film festival and one of the oldest in the world, your checklist of ingredients might include: an internationally revered film star lead, a respected veteran European director, a Central or Eastern European setting and a story in which both the Holocaust and post-WW2 communism figure largely. Maybe throw in a little subtext about class division and gender roles for good measure. “The Door” is a new Helen Mirren film from Hungarian director István Szabó ("Meeting Venus," "Being Julia,""Mephisto"), set in 1960s Budapest and detailing the relationship between a wealthy female novelist and a strong-willed cleaning lady who may or may not be harbouring dark secrets regarding her actions during the war. It pretty much hits the jackpot, or rather it would have if it was good. It’s not.

Review: Oliver Stone's Hard-Boiled Crime Saga 'Savages' A Muddled & Messy Disappointment

  • By Benjamin Wright
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  • July 3, 2012 1:04 PM
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  • 35 Comments
It’s always unfortunate to watch a filmmaker slip further away from his better work with age – but even more so when it’s one who exhibited the sort of storytelling craft that could both frustrate and engage his audience all at once. Director Oliver Stone has always been one to challenge his viewers. From his days of illustrating with his pen the brutal confines of a Turkish prison in “Midnight Express” to the conspiracy-minded reels of “JFK,” Stone has honed an ability to tell seemingly documentary-ready material in a more compelling cinematic narrative – treating fiction like reality (and occasionally blurring the line between the two).

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Review: Lifers Imitate Art In Prison-Set Shakespearean Docudrama 'Caesar Must Die'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 2, 2012 1:56 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In a prison in Rome, real-life convicts prepare to mount a production of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” and as the night of the public performance draws nearer, their real lives and the play’s narrative conflate to the point of indistinguishability. So runs an approximate logline for the Taviani brothers’ “Caesar Must Die” which arrived at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival trailing glowing reviews and the Golden Bear from Berlin in its wake. And given that summation, it’s easy to see why it won – there are few themes more festival-friendly than the interrelatedness of art and life. But there’s a difference between suggesting that such a relation exists and exploring or commenting on its nature, a difference the veteran directors, and the more breathless of the film’s admirers, seem only sporadically to acknowledge.

Karlovy Vary Film Fest Review: Fascinating Subject Almost Trumps Staid Format In ‘Brian Eno: The Man Who Fell To Earth 1971-1977’

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 2, 2012 10:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
A documentary about just 6 years out of a 42-odd year career, that runs two-and-a-half hours long and rarely strays from bog-standard talking head/rote archive footage format? Yes, it sounds unbearable, and probably would be were its subject anyone but Brian Eno, a definite, no-joke candidate for The Most Interesting Man In The World (sorry, Senor Dos Equis), at a period in his life which was arguably his most creative. (Very arguably, and we’d probably be the ones to argue, having had some exposure to the Eno of the ‘80s, ‘90s and today).

Review: 'The Amazing Spider-Man' Is A Good Teen Romance Struggling To Escape A Mediocre Superhero Movie

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • June 29, 2012 3:34 PM
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  • 10 Comments
We're likely reaching something of a tipping point with the superhero movies. The first wave is ending: "X-Men" has already been reinvented, Superman is getting his second relaunch in a decade, "The Hulk" has already had its third iteration, and Christopher Nolan's Batman-trilogy, which more than anything else brought a new level of respectability to the genre, is coming to a close. We're entering the second phase of the modern superhero movie era, and it's leading to some interesting possibilities. So far, these films have essentially been a genre in and of themselves, but as new filmmakers inevitably try out fresh ideas within its confines, we're likely to see other styles brought into the mix.

Review: 'Granito: How To Nail A Dictator' A Remarkable Tale About The Quest For Justice

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • June 28, 2012 6:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
We're living in something of a golden era of documentary filmmaking. Whether on the big screen, and more frequently on cable -- where a plethora of specialty channels offer a variety of outlets -- documentaries can more easily reach an audience than ever before. But are they making an impact? It seems that every doc that comes along is pushing some kind of issue or agenda, but that little of that is felt once the credits roll ninety minutes later. But every now and then comes a movie that shakes the ground just a little bit, and not only opens eyes, but inspires action and "Granito: How To Nail A Dictator" is a remarkable chronicle of one film that did just that.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Beauty Is Embarrassing' Is A Laugh Out Loud Portrait Of The Wild & Wacky Wayne White

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 28, 2012 5:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
“Beauty is Embarrassing” is such a warm, laugh out loud charmer of a documentary thanks entirely to its subject, the wild and wonderful Wayne White, that it leaves you wondering, just where has this delightful man been all this time? And that’s the question “Beauty is Embarrassing” posits too -- serving as an opportunity to bring attention to this artist who has been more influential than we, or even he, knows.

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