The Playlist

Hot Docs Roundup: 'Despite The Gods' Fascinates, 'Beauty Is Embarrassing' Is Heartwarming & 'About Face' A Fun Look At Fashion

  • By Samantha Chater
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  • May 1, 2012 11:57 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Aussie filmmaker Penny Vozniak's "Lost in La Mancha"-esque documentary “Despite The Gods," following director Jennifer Lynch and her experiences making her third film in India, is a low budget docu-delight. Lynch is the beating, empathic heart of the film, an endearing combination of raw emotional honesty and self-deprecating humor. After surviving a critical flogging at 19 for her first film "Boxing Helena," and enjoying the relative success of her second film "Surveillance," Lynch still had a lot to prove with her third film. However it is clear from day one this will not be the film she envisions it to be. The film in question is "Hisss," a Bollywood action tale of a snake that turns into a woman, and then back again

Hot Docs Review: 'Big Easy Express' A Rambling, Affectionate Tour Documentary That Should Make Fans Happy

  • By Samantha Chater
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  • May 1, 2012 10:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Director Emmett Malloy has returned with an excellent follow up to 2009’s “Under Great Northern Lights” with another winning concert documentary titled "Big Easy Express." In a tight 60-odd minutes, the film follows three bands, Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and Old Crow Medicine Show, as they travel from San Francisco to New Orleans, Louisiana, on a sold-out 6-stop tour, aboard the most beautiful-looking train you've ever seen. From the opening tracking shot that follows 'Magnetic Zeroes' singer Jade Castrinos as she walks through the various rustic train cars, past Mumford and Sons playing in one, 'Old Crow' in another and right down the back to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, Malloy's film is not only beautifully soundtracked, courtesy of all three bands, but is also dreamily captured.

Tribeca Review: Morgan Spurlock's Crowd-Pleasing 'Mansome' Is Cute, But Unilluminating

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 30, 2012 6:41 PM
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  • 1 Comment
What makes a man shave his chest? Sport a hirsute, ridiculously long and absurd-looking beard? Bleach his anus, thread his eyebrows or play around with his facial hair in any number of manscaping ways? These are some of the questions posed in Morgan Spurlock's latest cheery and congenial documentary, "Mansome."

Review: 'The Avengers' Has Its Issues, But Mostly Delivers Thrilling, Engaging, Blockbuster Fun

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • April 30, 2012 10:04 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Everything that works in “The Avengers” really works, but not everything works in “The Avengers.” A virtuoso collection of action set pieces framed by an uninspiring “getting the team together” narrative which should have been accomplished in all of those post-credits sequences in earlier Marvel movies, Joss Whedon’s stab at superheroes delivers plenty of what makes both him and his subject matter appealing, as well as an abundance of mythological set-up that’s somehow simultaneously redundant and contradictory. But as the best (or perhaps most consistently engaging) Marvel movie since the original “Iron Man,” “The Avengers” is a winning piece of popcorn entertainment that does better with characters in an ensemble setting than many ever did when they starred in their own vehicles.

Tribeca Review: 'Knife Fight' Is Political Mud-Slinging For Dummies

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 28, 2012 12:22 PM
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For those of you who felt “Ides Of March” was entirely too cerebral and challenging, here comes the dunderheaded “Knife Fight.” A political satire that treads no new ground, this name-heavy comedy wastes an engaging central performance by Rob Lowe, who is completely game to play all sides of the political machine, swinging from the gubernatorial rafters like a contemporary “Phantom Of The Paradise,” bent on sabotaging his opposition and leaving the system a scorched earth for his clients to walk over the ashes.

Tribeca Review: 'Una Noche' A Funny, Bawdy, Hopeful Debut Picture From Lucy Mulloy

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 28, 2012 9:16 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There’s a youthful energy running through “Una Noche” that threatens to overwhelm, from its sun-kissed first image to its final moments on the sands of the beach. Alive and vibrant, Lucy Mulloy’s often bawdy first feature is narrated by Lila, a blossoming teenage girl confused by her sexuality, alienated from the local girls. The language is Spanish, but teenage cruelty is universal, as her peers mock her slight body hair and tomboyish interest in taekwondo.

Review: 'Payback' A Dense Dissection Of Debt Based On The Musings Of Margaret Atwood

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 27, 2012 3:04 PM
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What is the essence of debt, and what is debt that doesn't have a money solution? Canadian essayist, novelist, activist, and general "ist" Margaret Atwood pontificates on the complex nature of this kind of liability in "Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth," a non-fiction book and the spring-board for Jennifer Baichwal's concisely titled"Payback." Atwood's deconstruction of the idea is incredibly deep, at times both frightening and amusing; Baichwal attempts to translate her lecture into a documentary/video essay and succeeds in creating something original yet still retaining the strength of the author's voice. The director manages to look at what various people owe to each other, from small scale (what convicts owe to both their victims and society) to all encompassing (how we, as humans, beholden to our planet).

Tribeca Review: 'Whole Lotta Sole' Is An Insufferable Comic Take On The British Gangster Movie

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 27, 2012 9:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The title of "Whole Lotta Sole" is the kind of gratingly obnoxious flourish that makes you hate the movie immediately. First of all it sits in your mouth like a blob of half-chewed gummy bears; secondly, it sounds like a direct-to-video independent movie produced in the mid-90s that the Weinsteins picked up on a whim; and thirdly its implied double meaning – it's the name of a fish market in the film but its phonetic weight means something too ("whole lot of soul") – is meant to deepen the movie but instead leaves you even more irritated. The movie is pretty much exactly like that – it tries to sugarcoat the British gangster movie (and we're using the "British" term pretty broadly; it's set in Belfast) and leaves you totally annoyed and unsatisfied.

Tribeca Review: 'Supporting Characters' Is A Middling Movie, But A Decent Would-Be Pilot Episode For A Show We Might Watch

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 26, 2012 8:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments
What fascinates about “Supporting Characters,” the new relationship comedy premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival, is that it’s greatest strength also registers as its most notable weakness. This decidedly Noo Yawk tale of an editing team in New York City and their satellite friends wouldn’t be at home as an extended pilot on IFC, with these two best friend leads getting into all sorts of middle-aged male troubles. It’s good, and bad, just like TV.

Tribeca Review: 'Graceland' Mashes Together Suspense Thriller With Sobering Child Trafficking Drama, With Mixed Results

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 26, 2012 7:35 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Mild-mannered husband and father Marlon Villar is just having one of those days. The boss is on his case. His wife is being needy. His daughter is acting up. The cops are bugging him. “Graceland” begins as a compendium of what some adults would call a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Wah wah.

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