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The Playlist

Review: 'Trouble With The Curve' Is A Lifeless Baseball Drama That Throws A Few Innings Too Many

  • By Benjamin Wright
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  • September 17, 2012 9:22 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Despite a recent mishap involving an empty chair meant to be President Barack Obama, actor Clint Eastwood has been relatively out of sight when it comes to the press. He mostly turns up at awards shows come January every year or so, and he’s perhaps best known at this point for his work behind the camera on mainstream fare, intelligent or even thought-provoking entertainment like “Letters to Iwo Jima” and “Mystic River” -- or far less savory works like “Hereafter,” and the well-intentioned misfire of a biopic in 2011’s Oscar bait “J. Edgar.” There’s little doubt the actor/director will maintain his iconic status until his final days, but “Trouble with the Curve” finds Eastwood on cranky autopilot.

TIFF Review: 'Underground' A Lean, Compact Look At The Early Life Of Julian Assange

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 16, 2012 9:05 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Part of understanding Julian Assange is knowing that he's spent nearly his entire life on the run. While he's currently holed up in Ecuador's embassy in the U.K., this latest roadblock for the hacker/activist is just another bump in a lifetime that has seen him constantly on the move. What many folks don't know is that when Assange was eight years old, his mother married a man who belonged to Australia's white supremacist group/cult The Family, who "recruited" (read: kidnapped) children with Aryan features to bring them into the fold. Leaving the organization in 1990, Assange, his mother and brother changed their addresses and kept an eye over their shoulder as The Family was never too far behind, and that's where Robert Connolly's solidly built "Underground" begins.

TIFF Review: Tommy Lee Jones Shines In Otherwise Serviceable, Flawed 'Emperor'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 15, 2012 8:18 AM
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  • 1 Comment
"We must be seen as liberators, not conquerors," Tommy Lee Jones' crusty General MacArthur says in the opening moments of "Emperor," and that line of dialogue is about as thematically rich as the film gets. A modestly budgeted, respectfully executed post-WWII drama, the film is also entirely edgeless, and aside from a couple of swear words is ready to be shown in classrooms and on the History Channel in endless repeats. As a big-screen outing, it's a very minor war film, that traps one actor in a miscalculated character and doesn't give us enough of another, who is clearly the best thing in the picture overall.

Review: 'Snowman's Land' A Mildly Entertaining Hitman Farce

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 14, 2012 5:10 PM
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  • 0 Comments
It’s the folksy guitar score that early on reveals that the poker face of Tomasz Thomson’s “Snowman’s Land” is a put-on. First, it’s the twinkly strumming over scenes of muted violence, and then monotonous boredom, that reveals that “Snowman’s Land” wants you to like it, it wants you to consider that this might be a genius low key comedy: a contemporary hip hop mixing of one guitar theme helps illuminate this clearer. It’s a fairly inorganic request from a film like this, one which, when it works, affects a faint smile at best. But it’s a small world, and there simply isn’t a lot of room for that many quiet German hitman comedies. There’s no harm in picking this moment to grade on a curve.
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TIFF Review: Penn Badgley Is Solid In Otherwise Uneven 'Greetings From Tim Buckley'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 14, 2012 4:09 PM
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  • 3 Comments
While the film might not be quite as sweet and heady as drinking a glass of lilac wine, Penn Badgley's performance in "Greetings From Tim Buckley" does justice to the late Jeff Buckley, while also revealing that the "Gossip Girl" star has quite a few more talents than he's thus far been given credit for. But his swoop of wild hair and impressive vocal theatrics aside, the rest of the movie around him tells a trio of stories that never quite unite to land the emotional connection they're aiming for. 

Watch: Red Band Trailer for 'The Oranges' Starring Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener & Leighton Meester

  • By Charlie Schmidlin
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  • September 13, 2012 10:43 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Featuring an ensemble cast, suburban setting, and humorous holiday shenanigans, “The Oranges” seemed initially to be heading toward “Christmas With The Kranks” territory as it approached its TIFF premiere last year. However, since the project's 2008 Black List inclusion by writers Jay Reiss and Ian Helfer, a steady buzz has grown into the film's well-received screenings and recent first trailer, and now comes an opportunity to see Allison Janney cut loose in the film's red-band offering.

TIFF Review: 'Free Angela & All Political Prisoners' A Fascinating Chronicle Of Justice & Strength

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 12, 2012 4:27 PM
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  • 1 Comment
"Black power means dignity," is a phrase that lingers from Shola Lynch's documentary about activist and scholar Angela Davis. And dignity is just one of the many qualities that one can attach to Davis, a bold and powerful figure whose own battle for justice and freedom is chronicled in "Free Angela & All Political Prisoners." A fascinating slice out of a turbulent time in an American history, this detailed doc is a compelling portrait of a legal case that found activism, politics, freedom of speech and more all dovetailing together into an event that not only captured the attention of the nation, but of people worldwide.

Review: 'Finding Nemo 3D' Is A Freshly Dimensionalized Take On A Certifiable Pixar Classic

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • September 12, 2012 11:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Last fall's surprise smash rerelease of Disney's "The Lion King," a gimmicky two-week promotional stunt designed sell the movie's Blu-ray release that turned into an extended, nearly $100-million-grossing juggernaut, opened the floodgates for 3D animated rereleases. There are two planned for the back end of this year alone: in December, Disney and Pixar will release "Monsters Inc." back into theaters in stereoscopic 3D, in part to promote the sequel due in theaters next summer. And this month sees the rerelease of "Finding Nemo," Andrew Stanton's maritime marvel, now with fish that really float in front of you. Just like in the case with "The Lion King" last year, the storytelling strength of the actual movie surpasses any amount of added technological wizardry.

TIFF Review: Goran Paskaljevic's 'When Day Breaks' Is Well Shot, But Overly Sentimental

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • September 12, 2012 10:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
“With this film, I’ve attempted to do something very complicated,” says Goran Paskaljevic during his introduction to the screening of "When Day Breaks." “To make a simple film.” One of Serbia’s most prominent filmmakers, Paskaljevic’s films have been premiering at TIFF since the 90s, and his brand new one, about a 70-year-old man learning about his true identity, follows suit. Believing that nowadays world cinema is lacking in emotion and true feeling, the director hopes that "When Day Breaks" will prove different. This envelope of hope however, was pushed too far.

TIFF Review: 'Song For Marion' Hits A Predictable, But Sour Note

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 12, 2012 9:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There is a certain strain of mid-budgeted British comedy -- films like "Calendar Girls," "Made In Dagenham," "Greenfingers," "The Full Monty" etc. -- that generally tends to find an audience on both sides of the ocean, make a modest profit, and then land on specialty cable where it lives on in reruns forever. They all have the easily recognizable stock characters, follow a famililar arc and culminate in manufactured emotion designed to make you feel good. And while it's hard to fault a film for being exactly what it sets out to be and nothing more, there is something almost offensive about how inoffensive the template guiding "Song For Marion" is.

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