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The Playlist

Rome Review: ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2’ Probably A High Point For The Franchise, Still A Low For Cinema

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 13, 2012 5:58 PM
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  • 20 Comments
The final installment of Stephenie Meyers' 'Twilight Saga' has hit the screen with an audible, if Italian-accented "Squee!" here in its packed hormonal World Premiere at the Rome Film Festival. Destined to make a jillion dollars in its first six minutes of release, the film is already such a juggernaut that voicing an opinion on whether it's any good is a little like examining the fenderwork on the 20-wheeler that's bearing down on you at 100mph: it doesn't matter, because either way, you're going to be flattened. But hardy fools that we Playlisters are, we're going to damn well tell you what we think anyway: "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" is as thrilling, scary and swooningly romantic as this series gets. But it's still dire.

DOC NYC Review: 'Don't Follow Me (I'm Lost)' A Quotidian Portrait Of A Musician On The Road

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • November 13, 2012 5:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Son and namesake of an illustrious country singer, Bobby Bare Jr. made the differences between him and his patriarch very clear when his band released an album on Immortal Records (Korn, Incubus). Since then he’s been furiously touring as a solo artist, rocking with various backing bands and making just enough money to keep the roof over his family’s head. “Don’t Follow Me (I’m Lost)” chaperones a series of concerts in 2010 (timed with the release of the artist’s A Storm, A Tree, My Mother's Head) while providing a succinct idea of Bobby’s character and musical career. Mostly, though, it deals with the musician’s struggle to continue his modestly successful creative career while juggling his responsibilities as a parent, with four kids and a new wife at home.

Review: 'Lincoln' Is A Handsomely Shot, Immaculately Acted & Terribly Dull Historical Biopic

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • November 13, 2012 1:44 PM
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  • 50 Comments
Steven Spielberg directing a biopic on Abraham Lincoln, even one that concerns the President's last four months in his second term, is something that positively oozes with endless possibilities. This is, after all, a filmmaker who has turned his virtuosic eye onto past historical injustices like the Holocaust ("Schindler's List") and the aftermath of the Munich Olympics massacre ("Munich"), who has always had a keen interest in the African American experience ("The Color Purple," "Amistad"). Imagine what he could do with the actual Civil War! Well, it turns out, very little. "Lincoln," for all its technical accomplishment, fine performances, and intricate script work, is something of a lifeless bore. It's in desperate need and short supply of the very Spielberg-ian dazzle that it was assumed he would bring to the project.

Rome Review: 'Marfa Girl' Hints At Larry Clark's Possible Evolution As A Filmmaker

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 13, 2012 11:37 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Teenagers fuck, get each other pregnant, fight, take drugs, and are disaffected. So far, so very, very Larry Clark. But “Marfa Girl” which premiered at the Rome Film Festival last night, also foregrounds elements that haven’t historically cropped up quite so regularly in the filmmaker’s back catalog, like race relations, spirituality, and adults defined in ways other than their effect on teens, including, rarest of all, a functional and mutually loving parent/child relationship. It also boasts an intriguing structure whereby you might think it’s business as usual for the first two thirds, until in the final act, tension that you hadn’t really been aware of building comes to a head, almost the way you might expect in a genre film -- a psychological thriller or a horror perhaps -- as the bad guy gets what’s coming to him and the harmonious community is thus exorcised of its chief demon.

Rome Review: French Rom-Com 'Populaire' Is A Chocolate Box Movie - Pretty, Sweet, May Cause Slight Sugar Headache

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 13, 2012 8:27 AM
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  • 2 Comments
The Weinstein Company secured the U.S. distribution rights to “Populaire,” the '50s-set French rom-com that premiered Out of Competition at the Rome Film Festival, back in March, and it’s easy to see why. Boasting a chic, stylized period setting, dotted with bubblegum colors, sharp tailoring and lacquered updos, the film is the kind of undemanding confection that should prove a straightforward transatlantic sell, while its insouciant French-ness adds that bit of class that perhaps its nearest recent U.S. equivalent, “Down With Love,” lacked.

Doc NYC Review: Jared Leto's 'Artifact' Is A Compelling Portrait Of A Music Industry Under Water

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • November 12, 2012 5:47 PM
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  • 14 Comments
It's sort of hard to sympathize with one of the world's most handsome actors, who regularly moonlights as a Goth prince rock star, even when his spiteful record label decides to sue him and his band for the whopping sum of $30 million. This is the fate that befell Jared Leto and his shockingly popular pop rock band 30 Seconds to Mars, as they were about to begin work on their third album, This Is War. "Artifact," which recently won the BlackBerry People's Choice Documentary Award at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and was directed by Leto under a Seussian pseudonym, is something of an accomplishment, not just because of its surprisingly sturdy filmmaking but also because it turns Leto into, if not a likable center for a documentary, then at least a compelling guide through the current state of the music industry, in all its wretched decay.

Review: 'Coldplay Live 2012' Endearingly Captures The Energy Of The World's Biggest Band

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • November 12, 2012 3:04 PM
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  • 12 Comments
If there's a way you can be the world's biggest pop band and still be underrated, well, Coldplay have figured out how. Their five albums, which always manage to be solidly artistic and hugely accessible, have sold tens of millions of copies, no small feat in the age of the crumbling music industry, and yet their detractors say that they're boring and dull, two charges that cannot be leveled against "Coldplay Live 2012." A new concert documentary that charts their tour in support of last year's Mylo Xyloto album, 'Live 2012,' like this year's other two great concert docs ("Shut Up and Play the Hits" and "Katy Perry: Part of Me") is a boundlessly energetic, utterly endearing chronicle. Hands in the air, people.
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Doc NYC Review: 'My Amityville Horror' Is A Disturbing Mixture Of The Paranormal And The Psychological

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • November 12, 2012 2:01 PM
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  • 2 Comments
In 1975, George and Kathy Lutz (along with Kathy's three children from a previous marriage), moved into a huge house in Amityville, a tony Long Island suburb. In less than a month, the family would abandon their possessions and leave the house, later claiming it had been the source of a number of supernatural disturbances – including the appearance of a floating, wolf-headed pig; demonic possession; and swarms of ghostly black flies.

AFI Fest Review: Kim Nguyen's 'War Witch' a Haunting, Brutal Surrealist Fable Matched by Powerful Lead Performances

  • By Charlie Schmidlin
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  • November 11, 2012 9:06 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Before any political or societal context enters the brutal cinematic depictions seen in “Come and See” and “City of God,” each effort can first speak clearly enough from the image of a child holding a firearm. Gawky, nervous, and with an expression of terrified power, the isolated sight holds many questions to a decayed rationality and natural order, but as Canadian director Kim Nguyen's shows within his searing look at African child soldiers, “War Witch," those two aspects are the first to be excised in warfare. Blending a surrealist perspective of battle-tinged faith with the harrowing tale of one girl's resilience, the film is a laser-focused fable threatened occasionally by its drifts into character shorthand, but equaled by a wrenching lead performance by Rachel Mwanza that results in one of the finest of the year.

Rome Review: Paul Verhoeven’s Partially Crowdsourced ‘Tricked’ Is A Short, Wickedly Enjoyable Soap Opera

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 10, 2012 4:32 PM
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  • 5 Comments
It’s actually just the tip of an iceberg that encompasses an online component, mobile apps and a TV show in his native Netherlands, but Paul Verhoeven’s 50-minute-long “Tricked” (“Steekspel") provided what the Rome Film Festival so far has rather lacked: sheer entertainment value.

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