The Playlist

Cannes Review: Matteo Garrone's Lightweight & Lifeless 'Reality' Is A Disappointment

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 18, 2012 11:50 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The relationship between audiences and reality television has shifted to some degree over the past decade (or longer). Where early shows were once positioned as voyeuristic/documentary style looks at Real People, it quickly became clear to those in front of the camera, behind it and at home watching, that reality television is just a different kind of performance. While these programs are ones ostensibly rooted in Real Life, the people selected for these shows -- as well as the writers, producers and directors -- have become increasingly aware of the audience, playing directly to them. Simply put, most people know reality television is actually not that real at all, but in case you forgot, Matteo Garrone's "Reality" is here to remind you.

Cannes Review: Over The Top 'Broken' Starring Tim Roth & Cillian Murphy Can't Get It Together

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 18, 2012 8:00 AM
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  • 6 Comments
There is a difference between a kitchen sink drama and a drama that includes everything but the kitchen sink, and unfortunately for "Broken," it's more of the latter than the former. Marking the feature debut by theater director Rufus Norris and with Tim Roth, Cillian Murphy and Rory Kinnear among the ensemble, the is the kind of movie that mistakes adding a new plot twist every fifteen minutes for narrative momentum and drama.

Review: 'American Animal' Is Where Independent Cinema Goes To Die

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 17, 2012 4:05 PM
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  • 18 Comments
Matt D’Elia, the writer, director and “star” of “American Animal,” plays Jimmy, a wiry twentysomething living off the considerable wealth of his rich father. He never leaves his apartment, despite repeatedly coughing up blood and showing noticeable signs of illness. Parading around his apartment in elaborate costumes, creating false identities for himself, and speaking in made-up languages, he considers each step he takes a sample of performance art, a “free show” for his “audiences.” He also hates jobs, disdains reading, and cares little for the comfort level of others around him, under the guise of “putting on the ritz.” The fact that he goes through the entirety of “American Animal” without being punched, murdered, or locked in a spaceship and shot into the sun is some sort of goddamned miracle.

Review: Waterlogged 'Battleship' Is A Cynical, Nonsensical & Boring Blockbuster

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • May 17, 2012 11:00 AM
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  • 17 Comments
Expectations are a tricky thing with films. In an age where every teaser, trailer, teaser-for-a-trailer, poster and publicity still are pored over endlessly, many go into a film thinking they know what they'll think afterwards. This can lead to hopes being crushed, or sometimes, for a film that you'd previously dismissed turning out to be a pleasant surprise -- only last summer, we were dreading "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," only to discover that it was perhaps the best blockbuster of the season. Honestly, very little makes us happier than such a film: a picture that's been mis-marketed that turns out be an absolute treat, that is an entirely different beast to what you thought it was going to be.

Cannes Review: 'After The Battle' A Well-Intentioned, But Manipulative Drama About The Egyptian Revolution

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 17, 2012 8:59 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Gil Scott-Heron famously said "The revolution will not be televised," but as the Occupy movement and the events in Syria and Egypt have shown, not only are these actions on TV, they're on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube as well. Social media and the ever-quickening 24 hours cycle have seen protestors and governments alike shift and adapt strategies, tactics and rhetoric faster than ever before. And it's against this backdrop that director Yousry Nasrallah has delivered "After The Battle," a well-intentioned if clunky and uneven drama set among the boiling tension and emotion of the uprisings in Egypt in 2011.

Cannes Review: 'The We & The I' Is A Testing, Patronizing Let-Down From Michel Gondry

  • By James Rocchi
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  • May 17, 2012 7:41 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Like some Gallic version of Tim Burton, Michel Gondry's initial promise has given way to a series of films whose diminishing returns demonstrate that he's a talented visualist without the capacity for, or worse, any interest in, telling an actual story. Gondry's defenders will, of course, point to the excellent "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," but the passage of years has made it abundantly clear that the credit for that film is entirely screenwriter Charlie Kaufman's; Gondry may have gotten out of the way of that script, but that's hardly a reason to celebrate his skills or capablities, such as they are, beyond that. The messy "Be Kind, Rewind," the cutesy-creepy "The Science of Sleep," the noisome and needless "Green Hornet" ... Gondry's name above a title has gone from being a reason to seek a film to being a reason to shun it.

Cannes Review: Blood & Water Flow Freely In Jacques Audiard's Beautiful & Moving 'Rust & Bone'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 17, 2012 6:44 AM
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  • 11 Comments
What is it we do to survive? Who is it we love? Who is it we fight? What are the forces seen and unseen that push our lives in directions we could have never expected? These are the questions that Jacques Audiard tackles in his latest "Rust And Bone," a beautiful, moving story of two fractured lives that somehow, together, combine into a single (if unconventional) whole.

Cannes Review: Wes Anderson's 'Moonrise Kingdom' Is A Tender Triumph Of Design, Decor & Rich Emotion

  • By James Rocchi
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  • May 16, 2012 9:45 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" seems like an odd choice to open the 65th Cannes Film Festival, with its deadpan Americanism, retro-set timeline and movie-star cast; at the same time, Anderson is clearly influenced by the New Wave, both cinematically and personally, he's a distinctive authorial voice as a director (which is the essence of auteur theory) and while his films are defined by near-silent moments of comedy and human frailty, there's also something mournful and wounded about them. "Moonrise Kingdom," like all of Anderson's films, is a very beautiful and funny movie about grief and sorrow, and the never-was 1965 the film takes place in is both a meticulously-crafted triumph of design and decor and an emotionally rich setting, full of objects you could almost reach out and touch and feelings, yearnings, that reach out to you.

Review: 'Something Ventured' A Dry & Repetitive Look At The Money Behind Some Of The Biggest Tech Firms In History

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • May 15, 2012 10:01 AM
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  • 0 Comments
From the outset, Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine's "Something Ventured" probably isn't something everybody will enjoy. A documentary about venture capitalists, you need to already have something of an interest about the money that has powered some of the greatest technological advancements of the past forty or fifty years. But even for those who are curious about the coin behind the creative minds, this slim documentary (that runs under 90 minutes) quickly falls into a repetitive, narrow minded rut.
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Review: Jean Claude Van Damme & Cung Le Pic 'Dragon Eyes' Features Impressive Action, Empty Story

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • May 14, 2012 12:01 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Hong, the lead character in “Dragon Eyes,” might as well be a Man Without A Name when he wanders into the small town of St. Jude. He seeks a second chance, an opportunity to atone for past violent misdeeds seen in fuzzy flashback. It doesn’t take long for the viewer to realize this means a lot of people are about to be kicked in the face. One of the marquee titles from After Dark Action -- the new action imprint from Dark Castle and After Dark -- “Dragon Eyes” at least delivers on this aspect.

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