The Playlist

Review: 'Strange Fruit' A Solid, Fascinating Look At The Groundbreaking Failure Of The Beatles' Apple Records

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 24, 2012 6:05 PM
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  • 1 Comment
While Radiohead weren't the first band to break free of the coporate machine, and drop an album on their own terms, they were easily the most promiment. And while this was par for the course for underground artists and bands through the '80s and '90s who thrived within a specific independent framework (that was arguably co-opted by the mainstream post-Nirvana, but that's another discussion), but the release of In Rainbows opened the eyes of acts of similar stature, that they didn't need to rely on the expensive machinations, and iron clad contracts of a major record label to survive. And in fact, they could sell less records and earn more money to striking it on their own. Now, if a band isn't founding their own label, they at setting vanity shingles under corporate umbrellas at the very least, and taking a stronger say in how they conduct their careers. But all this might not have been possible were it not for The Beatles.
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Tribeca Review: 'Replicas' Sadly Seems More Interested In Cheap Thrills Than The Haneke-Level Chills It Promises

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 24, 2012 5:21 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The Hughes family is one just barely clinging to hope after a terrible tragedy. Following the loss of their daughter, Mark (Josh Close), Mary (Selma Blair) and their preteen son Brandon attempt to heal together at their upstate vacation home, the air thick with tension. Mark has been working so hard that by the time he’s taken a break in the wake of their loss, Mary doesn’t even recognize him. And yet, they’re the ideal candidates for suffering in the moody, disquieting “Replicas.”

Tribeca Review: 'Nancy, Please' Showcases The Worst Nightmare Of The Timid Grad Student

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 24, 2012 4:25 PM
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  • 1 Comment
We've all known people like Nancy. The title character of Andrew Semans' "Nancy, Please" is a real pill, dark eyes, slumped shoulders, and an eternal pout. There's always drama in Nancy's life, and she's always expressing it physically. She's always impetuous, always difficult, and frequently nasty, as if lashing out not against a single person but the world at large. In spite of it all, her punk sneer and angular sensuality is also sharp like a knife, tight like a fist. And for young potential PhD Paul, she is an out-and-out boogeyman.

Tribeca Review: 'Searching For Sugar Man' An Entertaining, Touching & Revealing Look At Forgotten Pop Singer Rodriguez

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • April 24, 2012 12:59 PM
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  • 1 Comment
If every Sundance film festival needs at least one documentary to remind white people of all the great music in the world they don’t know about, at least “Searching For Sugar Man” seems like 2012’s front-runner for the best one. A born crowd-pleaser whose central mystery begets a great triumph of grace and modesty, Malik Bendjelloul’s documentary about forgotten-before-he-was-known folk-pop singer Rodriguez is a hugely entertaining, emotionally touching, and musically revelatory experience.

Tribeca Review: Keanu Reeves Doc 'Side By Side' A Treat For Cinephiles On All Sides Of The Digital Debate

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • April 24, 2012 11:39 AM
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  • 6 Comments
Doing an impressive job of tracing the evolution of filmmaking technology (not just the cameras but the editing, post-production, distribution, exhibition, even the archiving aspects of it) from 1895 to the present day, “Side by Side” is an old school talking-head documentary on the subject of digital filmmaking vs. photochemical filmmaking. It sounds pretty dull as a logline, but stacked with gossipy, informal anecdotes and opinions from many of the most respected directors, cinematographers, editors, execs, VFX artists and digital wizards in the industry, it proves instead to be highly entertaining and informative, and by its close has presented a thoroughly diverting overview of the debate. Then again, we are massive geeks about this sort of thing.

Review: Twisty, Action-Packed NYC Noir 'Safe' Is The Finest Jason Statham Actioner Yet

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 24, 2012 10:59 AM
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  • 9 Comments
The de-evolution of the modern b-action movie is disheartening. The genre has been bisected by traditionalists and new-school practitioners. The old-school, red meat types like Sylvester Stallone and their ilk believe that real men doing real stunts and delivering brutal blows is the way to go, big tough guys in big tough situations, without any youngbloods or fancy gizmos. The more contemporary action filmmaker, however, spikes the punch, utilizing heavy-duty CGI to turn Tobey Maguire into Dolph Lundgren, Cameron Diaz into Jackie Chan. Neither side seems to understand that you don't need to be Dostoyevsky to infuse the same old tropes with just a little respect for characters, stories, suspense, and high stakes. It's the story, stupid. Believe in it.

Tribeca Review: 'Persepolis' Follow-Up 'Chicken With Plums' Is Amiable & Pretty, But Twee & Thin

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 24, 2012 10:40 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It can be difficult to shift from animation to live-action direction; the processes are very different, and even an accomplished animation helmer can sometimes be undone once they're faced with cameras, actors and the breakneck schedule of a feature film shoot, as opposed to the multi-year process that produces a feature cartoon. Some have managed it, Tim Burton being the most obvious example (at first, anyway...) and Pixar dons Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton are both hoping to make the leap in the next few months. But it's got to be even harder to go from working in graphic novels, to animation, to live-action, but that's been the path for Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud in the last few years.

Tribeca Review: The Deeply Insufferable 'Giant Mechanical Man' Is Quintessential Indie Film Hell

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 24, 2012 9:01 AM
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  • 25 Comments
There’s a special sort of Hell where films like “The Giant Mechanical Man” play, with the same ideas and tropes repeated around the clock, with the mistaken assumption that they’re endearing or, even worse, adorable. It’s the sort of picture that gives independent films a bad name, the type of film that invites jackholes coming out of “Transformers 7” to say, “I ain’t seeing that faggy indie shit!” In reality, there’s a very good chance “Transformers 7” could very well be less obnoxious than “The Giant Mechnical Man.”

Tribeca Review: 'Alekesam' Feels Less Like A Short Doc And More Like An Overlong Album Promo For Sal Masekela

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 23, 2012 6:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
At 35 minutes, "Alekesam" is a short documentary with a subject that could probably fill a Ken Burns-style PBS miniseries, full of political unrest, social uprisings, and jazz music: Hugh Masekela, a musician and activist who fought against apartheid (he was exiled from South Africa for more than 30 years), struggles to reconnect with his son Sal Masekela, a former ESPN commentator who is just now embarking on his own musical career. But while the doc tries to focus on the tenuous emotional connection between a distant father and a resistant son, it ends up coming across more as a fluffy promotional piece for Sal's new album than anything genuinely probing or insightful.

Tribeca Review: ESPN Doc ‘Benji’ Is A Tragic Portrait Of Promising Hoop Dreams Unfulfilled

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 23, 2012 4:58 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Something that all hardcore sports fans, but cinephiles may not be fully aware of: ESPN’s “30 For 30” series of documentaries on various touchstone moments in sports history are all by and large, riveting and dramatic pieces of work worth watching regardless if you’re a sports fan are not. While that particular series, which was by co-conceived by ESPN columnist Bill Simmons, is now over, the range of talent it secured, directors like Spike Lee, Richard Linklater, Barry Levinson, Steve James ("Hoop Dreams"), Peter Berg, Barry Levinson, was no joke (the Zimbalist brothers' "The Two Escobars,” being one of this writer’s absolute favorites; a terrifically gripping documentary).

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