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The Playlist

Review: Uninventive U.K. ‘Pusher’ Remake Offers Typically Stylized Drug Psychosis & Nothing More

  • By Edward Davis
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  • October 26, 2012 9:00 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Indulge us for a moment. Nicolas Winding Refn's "Pusher" trilogy was never meant to be a triptych, let alone a multi-language spawning remake series (there has already been a U.K. produced, Hindi language version). Refn's original "Pusher" gained critical acclaim more than 15 years ago in Denmark, but the now celebrated director faltered badly on his follow-up picture "Fear X." He refinanced his home to guarantee it was completed properly and then went bankrupt when the film turned out to be a flop.

Review: 'Cloud Atlas' Is Bold, Messy & Disappointingly Unimaginative

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 25, 2012 6:32 PM
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  • 24 Comments
With The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer literally throwing a critic off the roof of a building to his death in the opening moments of the nearly three-hour "Cloud Atlas," it's clear that they aren't concerned in the slightest with how this ambitious effort will be received. And you certainly have to give the trio of directors some respect for their approach, which tag teams an all-star cast, gives them multiple roles and spreads the story across nearly a half dozen time periods. But for all their boldness in narrative approach, the adaptation of David Mitchell's "Cloud Atlas" is also a mess, with an attempt to mix its various genres under a universal thematic banner that never quite coheres.

Review: 'Chasing Mavericks' Drowns Under A Crushing Wave Of Moroseness & Melodrama

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 25, 2012 3:35 PM
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  • 4 Comments
One of the first things we see in "Chasing Mavericks," a mostly uninspiring surfing drama starring Gerard Butler, his lumpy face framed by strands of willowy wet hair, are the words "Based on a True Story." But the true story behind the scenes of "Chasing Mavericks" is almost as compelling as what made it onto the screen – Butler was hospitalized in a surfing stunt gone wrong (one that left the star nearly dead according to some reports) and the film's original director, "L.A. Confidential" helmer Curtis Hanson, had to leave the project following heart surgery ("Gorillas in the Mist" director Michael Apted was called in to finish the film; the two filmmakers share credit, in an atypical DGA decision). The fact that you can't see the Frankenstein stitches used to sew the film together is a testament to the cleverness of the editorial team, but it also speaks volumes about the interchangeable blandness of the movie.

Review: All Is Not What It Seems In The Beautifully Shot 'The Loneliest Planet' Starring Gael Garcia Bernal

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • October 24, 2012 7:31 PM
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  • 1 Comment
It’s true that “The Loneliest Planet,” directed by Julia Loktev (“Day Night Day Night”), is the kind of film that works best if you know little to absolutely nothing about it going in. But then again, couldn’t that be said for just about every film? So before we write this review, let’s get the basics out there: a young couple (played wonderfully by Gael García Bernal and Hani Furstenberg), engaged to be married, is backpacking in the Caucasus Mountains in Georgia. They hire a guide to lead them on a hike filled with stunning vistas, and…something happens that changes things, irrevocably.

LFF Review: Francois Ozon's Puzzle Box 'In The House' Never Quite Forms A Full Picture

  • By Joe Cunningham
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  • October 24, 2012 6:28 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Francois Ozon’s previous film, “Potiche,” was a fun and frothy effort, and while it was undeniably beautifully composed and performed, it was arguably also a little inconsequential. Ozon approaches the structurally more ambitious “In the House” from a more devious and darkly comic perspective, yet despite this approach sustaining intrigue for much of the 105 minute running time, there’s still a sneaking suspicion once things are done that once again it doesn’t amount to very much.

Review: 'Cafeteria Man' A One Sided, Fly By Look At The Food Activism Of Chef Tony Geraci

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 24, 2012 10:27 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Who is Tony Geraci? For director Richard Chisolm and everyone else involved in the slim, one-sided but no less interesting "Cafeteria Man," he is a saint. Arriving on his houseboat in the marina of Baltimore, Maryland, he rolled up his sleeves and fought to reform school lunches for children in the city in his role as the new Director Of Food & Nutrition. Promising a program that emphasizes locally grown and nutritious food over frozen, pre-packaged slop, the ideas were big and some of the execution was grand. Did he achieve what he set out to do? That depends on who you ask, but the documentary never brings up that question.

LFF Review: Richard Dormer Shines In Touching & Uplifting Punk Rock Terri Hooley Biopic 'Good Vibrations'

  • By Joe Cunningham
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  • October 20, 2012 3:34 PM
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  • 0 Comments
We’re introduced to Terry Hooley (Richard Dormer) when he’s just five years old, playing in the front garden of his Belfast home. When one of the other children he has been arguing with slingshots a stone at his face, Terry becomes Terri – with one i.

LFF Review: Rolling Stones Doc 'Crossfire Hurricane' Is Little More Than A Familiar Nostalgia Trip

  • By Joe Cunningham
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  • October 19, 2012 1:43 PM
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  • 0 Comments
There’s been the little-seen “Charlie Is My Darling” and “Cocksucker Blues,” Jean-Luc Godard’s “Sympathy for the Devil,” 1970’s Altamont-focused “Gimme Shelter,” Julien Temple’s “Stones at the Max” and Martin Scorsese’s “Shine a Light,” and that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to documentaries that have put “the world’s greatest rock and roll band,” The Rolling Stones, up on the big screen. For a band who are celebrating their 50th anniversary perhaps that’s to be expected, but it leaves "Crossfire Hurricane" (the official celebration of said anniversary) with the onerous task of having to tell a story that has been well documented many times before.

Review: 'Paranormal Activity 4' Makes A Compelling Argument For The Series' Swift Cancellation

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 19, 2012 9:49 AM
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  • 4 Comments
A new "Paranormal Activity" movie coming out has now become a season tradition, like bobbing for apples, carving pumpkins, or wearing itchy sweaters. The first "Paranormal Activity" was a no budget chiller made in 2007 but not released theatrically until 2009, almost as an afterthought, even though, the story goes, it seriously spooked Steven Spielberg (it was originally acquired by DreamWorks and Paramount as remake fodder). Since then we've had a new sequel every year, all built around the same found footage scenario and less-is-more aesthetic – who needs buckets of blood when you have creaky footsteps, mysteriously opening doors, and blurry shadows? It's had a surprisingly good run, possibly peaking with last year's '80s-set "Paranormal Activity 3," but all good things must come to an end, and "Paranormal Activity 4" is listless and dreadful and boring, an almost painfully inert and superficial ghost story that lacks specificity or scares. Time to turn the camera off, guys.

Review: 'Greystone Park' Yet Another Found Footage Piece of Junk

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 18, 2012 8:02 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Acclaimed filmmaker Oliver Stone famously began his career directing schlock like “The Hand” and having associations with the likes of Lloyd Kaufman. It seems only fitting that son Sean Stone would follow a similar path into filmmaking. But while yesterday’s up-and-comers make their bones in skeevy genre filmmaking, today’s film school brats are a bit more formalistic, emerging out of the directing womb with autocritical theories and refuting of accepted tropes. When James Cameron was making “Piranha 2,” the attempt was to build a new wheel. With Sean Stone, the attempt is to subtly tweak it. So forgive expectations for being a bit higher for the progeny of the man behind “JFK” with new thriller "Greystone Park."

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