The Playlist

SXSW '12 Review: 'Monsieur Lazhar' A Meek & Restrained Crowd Pleaser

  • By Alison Willmore
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  • March 13, 2012 3:45 PM
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  • 0 Comments
When "A Separation" won the Academy Award for best foreign language film last month, I was thrilled -- Asghar Farhadi's splendid domestic drama is one of the best things I've seen in the past few years. But it also came as a genuine surprise, because I was convinced the Canadian film "Monsieur Lazhar" was going to win. Gentle and understated, Philippe Falardeau's film is a classy crowd-pleaser, the kind of mild effort that makes people shake their heads imagining what awfulness would be done to it in an American remake. It is also nothing to write home about, though it features a strong turn from Mohamed Saïd Fellag, who plays the title character, and some very good child performances.

Review: 'Seeking Justice' A Rote, Generic Thriller With A Dialed Down Nicolas Cage

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 13, 2012 3:01 PM
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  • 1 Comment
This is a slight paraphrasing of the truth. A couple of years ago, an eccentric award-winning actor had a choice: He could star in an unreasonable amount of movies of declining quality, stockpiling paychecks as his reputation and brand diminished. Or he could sell his dinosaurs bones and castles to appease the IRS and become significantly less weird. Well, here's to Nicolas Cage for keeping it weirder than ever, movies be damned.

Review: '21 Jump Street' Is A Hilarious, Heartfelt Action-Comedy That Just Might Be An Instant Classic

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • March 12, 2012 10:30 PM
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  • 5 Comments
In cinema as in life, self-awareness can be a virtue or it can be a deadly thing. Since there’s essentially no such thing as originality, conceding that you’re working within existing parameters or with familiar formulas excuses, and can sometimes enhance, the effectiveness of a lot of necessary decisions that eventually must be made in order to tell a story. Calling too much attention to those choices, however, turns storytelling into parody, characters into punch lines, and any emotional investment that may once have existed into fodder for dismissal, if not derision.

SXSW '12 Review: The Duplass Brothers' 'Do-Deca Pentathlon' Is A Minor Effort That Should Have Remained Buried

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 12, 2012 9:43 PM
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  • 4 Comments
It’s always important to keep in mind, while reading reviews, that interpreting art is a deeply personal experience. What might speak to someone on a visceral, emotional level will slide right over another’s head. Or anger them. Or bore them to tears. The third option was the experience of this writer with Mark and Jay Duplass’ “Do-Deca Pentathlon.”

SXSW '12 Review: HBO Series 'Girls' Solidifies Lena Dunham's Place As A Bold New Voice in American Comedy

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 12, 2012 9:25 PM
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  • 10 Comments
As far as young independent filmmakers go, writer/director Lena Dunham has been the subject of an excessive amount of conversation and handwringing, even by the admittedly loose standards of the ever-chatty Internet age. Her first feature, "Creative Nonfiction," was accepted to South by Southwest and the follow-up, "Tiny Furniture," won the Best Narrative Feature award at the same festival. That film also managed to attract quite a bit of attention, with comedy world luminaries like Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow singing its praises and some comparing her confessional, no-nonsense style to the early work of Woody Allen.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Beast' A Lean & Surreal Portrait Of An Extreme Relationship That Doesn't Quite Go Far Enough

  • By Alison Willmore
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  • March 12, 2012 6:29 PM
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  • 0 Comments
"Beast" is a lean, surreal portrait of a marriage in its extremes from Danish director Christoffer Boe, who's probably still best known for his 2003 feature debut "Reconstruction." The film's focus keeps almost exclusively to Bruno (Nicolas Bro) and Maxine (Marijana Jankovic), a couple whose relationship vacillates between love and hate and a meeting place between the two that approaches the feral. When we first see them, the pair are looking at a beautiful apartment they're considering buying. "Let's take this home and be a family," Bruno proposes. The hope and sweetness of the moment then goes slightly dissonant with unease when Maxine cuts her finger and Bruno sucks at the cut and talks, with all romanticism, about having a part of her inside him.

Review: 'The Search For One-Eyed Jimmy' Is A Remnant Of A More Colorful Time In Indie Filmmaking

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 12, 2012 3:12 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The rise of technology and newer entertainment formats has left behind a number of movies, some of which never graduated to VHS, DVD or even cable. One of those "forgotten" movies has recently hit DVD and Blu-Ray from the fine folks at Kino Lorber, the micro-indie "The Search For One-Eyed Jimmy". Of course, this particular film benefitted from having a stellar cast, most of whom are regularly working today, which has helped the picture rise above the number of undistributed films during the indie boom era. Of course, once you finish the film, you'll wonder exactly how so much talent got together to amount to so little.

Review: 'Casa De Mi Padre' Takes Will Ferrell’s Man-Child Antics South Of The Border With Uneven Results

  • By William Goss
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  • March 12, 2012 12:35 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Armando Alvarez (Will Ferrell) is but a humble Mexican rancher, unlucky in love and only his father’s second favorite son after Raul (Diego Luna). When the latter comes home bearing an Escalade and a smoking hot fiancée, Sonia (Genesis Rodriguez), it’s easy to see why Armando is considered the greater disappointment, but Raul’s homecoming brings with it trouble involving notorious drug dealer La Onza (Gael García Bernal), leaving the family’s black sheep to rise to the occasion.

SXSW '12 Review: Omar Rodriguez Lopez's 'Los Chidos' Is Wild, Wacky, Weird, Bloody & Bold

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 12, 2012 12:23 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Not everyone is going to be ready for the ride through "Los Chidos" that director Omar Rodriguez Lopez offers up. But his willingness to scare off a few of the faint of heart preserves his commitment to a truly bold and unique vision and an aesthetic all his own. This is the fifth feature film of the Mars Volta guitarist and only the second to play at a festival, and it’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Could this be the birth of a new auteur?

SXSW '12 Review: 'See Girl Run' Has A Slightly Too Leisurely Stride

  • By James Rocchi
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  • March 11, 2012 9:40 PM
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  • 4 Comments
There's a fine line between delicacy and fragility, between a gentle unfolding and a stubbornly slow series of revelations. That line is what keeps Nate Meyer's "See Girl Run," a midlife romantic drama, from succeeding as well as the great cinematography and talented cast would have you hope. Robin Tunney's marriage is foundering in familiarity in New York; Adam Scott's relationship and life are stalled and stuck in the town she left behind, even as he draws elegant and joyous frogs and caricatures. So she comes home, to see her parents and her brother, and he sees her. And remembers how much he used to love her. And she remembers, too. But love is not memory, and love is not hope.

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