The Playlist

Review: The South Will Rise, But Not Like You Expected, In The Pagan, Powerful 'Beasts Of The Southern Wild'

  • By James Rocchi
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  • June 26, 2012 4:02 PM
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  • 11 Comments
Written and directed by Benh Zeitlin, whose short, "Glory at Sea," was shot through with purpose and promise, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is as stirring and striking a film as you could wish for. Shot and set in a Louisiana community called The Bathtub, on the wrong side of the levees that stop the water from encroaching on civilization, it's at heart the story of a little girl, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) who lives with her father Wink (Dwight Henry).

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'It's A Disaster' Is A Darkly Hilarious Apocalyptic Dramedy That's Anything But Disastrous

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 26, 2012 10:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Real time, one setting films are a tricky feat to pull off, stumping even some of the most accomplished directors (have you seen “Carnage”?), but Todd Berger does it with panache in his directorial sophomore feature, a clever take on the apocalypse film, “It’s A Disaster.” Assembling a cast of eight actors in one house for a film that’s part relationship dramedy and part end of the world movie, Berger keeps the setting fresh and the pace moving in this film that takes a humorous look at the problems both epic and trivial that threaten to ruin lives. Based on the raptuous response from packed houses at the Los Angeles Film Festival this week, Berger and co. have succeeded in spades.

L.A. Film Fest Review: Entertaining Romp 'Magic Mike' Will Put Its Spell On You... And Shake It Like Nobody's Business

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 25, 2012 12:16 AM
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  • 5 Comments
There’s just something about Channing Tatum. Clearly, he’s got that magic touch (why else would Paramount be reshooting “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” to add more Chan?), a certain je ne sais quoi that would inspire veteran auteur Stephen Soderbergh to bring his early life story as a Florida stripper to the silver screen, while making the ultimate male stripper movie in the process. It just so happens to be a really good film too, one that’s about more than just shakin’ what the good Lord bestowed on Mr. Tatum and pals.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Neil Young Journeys' Is An Exhilarating & Emotional Ride With The Rock Star

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 21, 2012 4:23 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Neil Young is a salty dude. Forthcoming, irreverent, introspective, and witty, even as he approaches his mid-sixties, the musician has lost none of his rockability. The man is still writing new songs, for crying out loud, now nearly 50 years after the inception of Buffalo Springfield made him an international sensation. Jonathan Demme’s new rock documentary, “Neil Young Journeys,” is the third collaboration between the director and the musician, following 2006’s “Heart of Gold” and “Trunk Show” in 2009. The two first met when Young was composing the closing song for Demme’s 1993 film, “Philadelphia,” and this trilogy was conceived of not too long after. In this last installment – part concert video, part interview-on-the-go – Young, and his saltiness, are given their full due in an electrifying rock doc that will make you want to stand up and cheer.

Review: 'Mary Pickford: The Muse Of The Movies' An Adoring Look At America's Sweetheart

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • June 21, 2012 3:01 PM
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  • 4 Comments
What does it mean to be on the A-list? In addition to being a box office draw, which is a must, those within that rareified air can often call the shots creatively on their own movies, command a high salary and even develop their own projects. But while she's primarily remembered now as "America's sweetheart" or "The girl with curls," few actors then or now have had the popularity, power and influence of silent film star Mary Pickford. One of early cinema's hugest box office draws, an innovator in film acting, a founder of a major studio and a pop culture icon whose image still resonates to this day, Nicholas Eliopoulos' "Mary Pickford: Muse Of The Movies" is a loving tribute and expansive look at Pickford's life, loves and career.
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Review: 'Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter' Is A Surprisingly Solid Mix of History & Horror

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • June 21, 2012 8:30 AM
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  • 10 Comments
One of the biggest question marks of the summer movie season has been "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter," Timur Bekmambetov's $70 million R-rated historical mash-up that sees the sixteenth President of the United States fighting undead creatures and the evils of slavery, all at the same time (in 3D, no less). Based on the novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, who also wrote the screenplay (with uncredited help from Simon Kinberg), and produced by top ghoul Tim Burton, the trailers and television spots didn't completely convey whether or not it was supposed to be funny or scary, serious or silly. It turns out that (brilliantly) -- it's both. Somehow the movie manages to be fun and tongue-in-cheek without ever seeming disrespectful. It's a winning combination of history and horror where Honest Abe is able to kick serious ass.

L.A. Film Fest Review: The Skillfully Shot ‘Thursday Till Sunday’ Is Slow To Make Its Arrival

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 20, 2012 7:01 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Whether you are separating from your spouse or a child of parents who decide to split, divorce is a complex, sorrowful, bewildering event. It may leave questions unanswered, hearts broken, and individuals unfulfilled and without closure. Relationships are so layered that when it comes time to dissolve them, the process is anything but easy. And yet, it is at these most difficult times when the simplest words serve best. In her film, “Thursday till Sunday,” Chilean writer and director Dominga Sotomayor uses unfussy dialogue and a straightforward shooting style to translate the confusion and pain inherent in a couple’s withering marriage through the eyes of their quiet, precocious daughter.

Review: 'Kumaré' A Morally Questionable Docu-Comedy About Expensive Yoga Gurus

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • June 20, 2012 4:58 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Sick of spiritualists charging an arm and a leg just to spout incredibly vague musings designed to help you? Think they're all a bunch of scammers taking advantage of those who actually need real assistance? If so, you're in luck, because Vikram Gandhi is on your wavelength. This filmmaker has made a documentary not unlike "Borat" in which he pretends to be a native Indian guru (code name: Kumare), creating his own philosophy and gathering very dedicated followers. Unlike the Kazakh, the director will reveal himself to his peons at the end in an effort to prove that whatever change occurred was because of them and not him. Winner of the Audience Award and the 2011 SXSW Film Festival, "Kumare" is a tricky flick that makes a scary case on how easy it is to begin a cult, but it also (unsurprisingly) is a morally questionable film endeavor.
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Review: Controversial & Upsetting 'Compliance' Is Still Affecting & Real

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • June 20, 2012 3:58 PM
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  • 2 Comments
If there’s a thin line between presenting unpleasant material to an audience and openly antagonizing them with it, there are going to be a lot of people accusing “Compliance” of the latter, when really what it’s doing is the former. Craig Zobel, the promising writer-director who made “Great World of Sound” in 2007, returns to the big screening with his deeply unsettling second feature, the fictional account of a real incident in which a caller impersonating a police officer contacted a fast food restaurant manager and enlisted her in enacting a sexual assault under the pretense of a criminal investigation. After immediately provoking intense feelings both positive and negative among audience members at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, “Compliance” seems destined to become a lightning rod for controversy, but its success is so great in depicting the damage that can be done through complicity and inaction that the movie’s takeaway message may eventually be confused with the technique used in order to create it.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Girls' Star Alex Karpovsky's 'Red Flag' Is A Hilarious Meta Dark Comedy That Showcases Some Promising Talent

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 20, 2012 2:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Watching “Red Flag” at a film festival is a delightfully meta affair. In fact, the whole film is delightfully meta, a darkly funny autobiographical road movie from "Girls" and "Tiny Furniture" star Alex Karpovsky. Yes, he's not just one of Dunham's boys on the hit HBO show, he's also a promising filmmaker in his own right, and he plants his 'Flag' definitively.

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