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The Playlist

AFI Fest Review: ‘Hitchcock’ A Breezy, Disposable Effort Saved By Anthony Hopkins & Helen Mirren’s Dedicated Performances

  • By Charlie Schmidlin
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  • November 2, 2012 7:32 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Hypnotic, beautiful, and perilous in equal measure – one needn’t glance anywhere else but at the leading ladies of Alfred Hitchcock’s films to garner their intense influence, yet as dramatized in “Anvil!” director Sacha Gervasi’s loving biopic, “Hitchcock,” the real authority lingered off the set at home, shielding her husband quietly from failure and ruin. What follows is a peek behind the curtain on Hitchcock’s marriage to Alma Reville (the couple played by Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren), while charting their pangs of jealousy and pressure during the turbulent making of “Psycho.”

Savannah Fest Review: Eric Stoltz-Starring 'Fort McCoy' A Schmaltzy, Contrived WWII Drama

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 1, 2012 7:18 PM
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  • 1 Comment
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 those years 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.

Review: 'A Man's Story' A Refreshingly Honest & Candid Look At One Designer's Journey In The Fashion World

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 1, 2012 5:58 PM
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  • 0 Comments
From the outside, the world of haute couture often seems ridiculous, and it certainly lives up to that reputation often. But lost among the magazine spreads, photo shoots, ad campaigns, red carpet parties and so on, is the reality that it's not only a very tough business to break into, it's just as hard to maintain visibility. It bears many similarities to the movie world in that regard, where today's hot screenwriter is tomorrow's trade paper footnote.

Review: Barry Levinson's 'The Bay' Is A Frightening Eco-Horror 'Jaws' Riff

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • November 1, 2012 5:00 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Primarily known for his talky, small-scale comedic dramas, exemplified by his beloved "Diner," Vanity Fair recently made a compelling argument for this seminal Barry Levinson film influencing everything from "Seinfeld" and "Swingers" to Judd Apatow's comedy factory and feel-good Hollywood trifles like "The Natural." In light of this posit, this makes "The Bay," Levinson's new, highly squishy found-footage horror movie more than just a career left turn; it's more like he veered onto oncoming traffic. The only thing more surprising than Levinson making "The Bay," though, is how effectively creepy it is.

Review: Promising Alcoholism Drama ‘Flight’ Often Hits Rock Bottom

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • November 1, 2012 2:56 PM
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  • 1 Comment
After 12 years immersed (lost?) in the world of motion capture, Robert Zemeckis re-emerges into live-action filmmaking for “Flight,” an engaging and initially very promising drama about alcoholism, redemption and forgiveness that grows uneven and long-winded as it progresses, eventually clocking in at just under 2 hours and 20 minutes. Featuring a thrilling, terrifying opening, plus many of the potent, moving elements that a conventional but admirable morality drama might boast, “Flight" is often undone by its very unsubtle choices and its problematic, strained last act.

Review: Rambling, Ragged 'This Must Be The Place' Isn't Nearly As Bad As You Feared

  • By James Rocchi
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  • November 1, 2012 2:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The initial first glimpses for "This Must Be the Place" promised disaster, with a pitch of Sean Penn playing a burned-out post-punk rocker on the hunt for Nazis, and advance photos where Penn's jet-black corona of hair and dour made-up jowls made him look less like someone who had imitated The Cure's Robert Smith and more like someone who had killed, skinned and eaten Smith before donning his coiffure and face in celebration.

Review: 'The Man With The Iron Fists' A Noble, But Overstuffed First Effort From RZA

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 1, 2012 10:03 AM
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  • 8 Comments
“I’m the baddest man alive,” goes the chorus for one of the many hip hop songs in “The Man With The Iron Fists,” the directorial debut of RZA. The director is actually the subject of the song, as he plays the title character, a blacksmith seeking revenge for being wronged by a group of villains who sweep into China’s rowdy Jungle Village. But at a certain point, you have to wonder: why is he so bad? RZA, who has logged hours within the supporting casts of “American Gangster,” “Ghost Dog: Way Of The Samurai” and “Due Date,” plays the taciturn weapons maker with the same dour expression that suggests a dullard, which RZA certainly doesn’t seem to be. As a musician and lyricist, he is without peer, but as a leading man, his face hangs like Snoopy, his voice monotone and highlighting none of the musicality of his rhymes. That being said, the movie isn’t called “The Man With The Iron Charisma.”

Review: ‘The Details’ Is An Inconsistent But Entertaining Dark Comedy

  • By Cory Everett
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  • October 30, 2012 4:10 PM
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  • 1 Comment
“The Details” is one of those dark comedies where everything that can go wrong does. The sophomore film from Jacob Aaron Estes, whose previous film “Mean Creek” won the John Cassavetes Award at Sundance in 2004, was the biggest sale of the 2011, purchased by The Weinstein Company for $8 million. Of the dozen movies this writer saw while he was at the fest, it was one of the more accessible, but didn’t exactly ring of “Little Miss Sunshine”-like success either. The film stars Tobey Maguire and Elizabeth Banks as Jeff and Nealy Lang, young parents who have hit a rough patch in their marriage. Jeff is a doctor, Nealy is an interior decorator and while it’s probably neither’s fault, the passion has clearly gone out of their relationship, the image of the happy suburban couple is immediately shattered by a screaming match between the couple during the opening credits.

Savannah Fest Review: Contemporary Approach & Old Fashioned Message Clash In Rom-Com 'Missed Connections'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 30, 2012 10:02 AM
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  • 0 Comments
That chance encounter, or the moment of love at first sight -- these have been the familiar building blocks of romantic comedies for decades, not to mention that New York City is a common backdrop against which these stories can play out. And yet, both audiences and filmmakers remain drawn to these tales, eager to see two people overcome personal, professional and/or social pressures to find a fairytale ending. However, in a genre as well traveled as this, finding a fresh angle isn't easy, but co-writer and director Martin Snyder gives it a whirl with "Missed Connections." While the online/social media twist doesn't absolve the film's many cliches and questionable moral lesson, the committed performances do at least highlight some talented folks worth looking out for down the road.

Review: 'Dust Up' Is A Hipster Apocalypse Western, Like Alex Cox Doing 'Mad Max'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 26, 2012 1:02 PM
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  • 3 Comments
No budget, no problem. The seams show often in “Dust Up,” an unapologetically silly action comedy that feels as if it was produced entirely from the loose change found on all of Brooklyn’s collective bar tops. Complimenting the jaunty original score and songs from Spindrift and Gram Rabbit are stock soundtrack cues like a soaring eagle, crashing glass, and what sounds like the loudest punches ever recorded for a film, even when delivered by hundred-pound weaklings.
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