The Playlist

SXSW '12 Review: Richard Linklater's 'Bernie' Starring Jack Black Is A Harmless, But Charming & Funny Effort

  • By Edward Davis
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  • March 15, 2012 3:06 PM
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Employing a laid-back, jovial and amiable mien, Richard Linklater's latest effort, the East Texas-set black comedy "Bernie," is not unlike the Austin-based filmmaker himself: affable, eager to please without pandering, and highly likeable. In fact, "Bernie," starring Jack Black as an endearing mortician and well-loved member of his small-town community in Carthage, Texas, is so delightful, and rather wryly comical, it’s easy to be charmed with the picture despite its modest ambitions, small-scale aims and slight nature.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Sleepwalk With Me' Observes The Life Of A Comedian & Commitmentphobe

  • By William Goss
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  • March 15, 2012 11:57 AM
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Yes, everything that follows is true, our narrator assures us from the start after asking everyone to go ahead and turn off their cell phones. The validity of it all has been questioned before, and he simply wants to cut our skepticism off at the pass. However, since this is Mike Birbiglia playing a version of himself (named in the film as “Matt Pandamiglio”), replicating stories of his own life in a film based on his one-man show and identically titled book, "Sleepwalk With Me," there remains an inevitable degree of distance between seeing Matt go through the travails of becoming a stand-up comedian and a suitable boyfriend, and laughing at Mike’s actual experiences. Don’t worry: it’s a bit less through-the-looking-glass than it reads on paper.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Paul Williams: Still Alive' Is A Wonderfully Weird, Surprisingly Moving Tribute To A Forgotten Musical Icon

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 14, 2012 7:15 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Paul Williams mean to you? Does it ring a bell? No? How about these songs: "Rainbow Connection," "Evergreen," "We've Only Just Begun," "Old Fashioned Love Song"? Williams is the legendary singer-songwriter behind those tunes, and a former '70s superstar and personality, who made appearances on just about every variety show, sitcom and talk show during that era of silly decadence. Maybe you know him from his cult classic movie "Phantom of the Paradise." With his diminutive stature, blond bowl cut and ever-present tinted aviators, he's not exactly the most glamorous '70s celeb, but he is one of the most distinctive and beloved by the fans who have managed to remember him through the years.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Shut Up And Play The Hits' Is LCD Soundsystem’s 'The Last Waltz'

  • By William Goss
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  • March 14, 2012 6:03 PM
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Less of a documentary and more of a document, "Shut Up And Play The Hits" captures the week before, the day after and the very occasion of LCD Soundsystem’s Madison Square Garden farewell concert on April 2, 2011.

Review: 'The Kid With The Bike' Rides Into Trouble, Crashes Into A Savior

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 14, 2012 4:03 PM
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  • 1 Comment
All the books on parenting notwithstanding, it's always been pretty simple: kids not only want love, they need it. And in the latest from Jean Pierre and Luc Dardenne that need is amplified into a mellifluous tone of desperation encapsulated in little Cyril (Thomas Doret) the titular 'kid with a bike.' When the film opens Cyril literally can't believe what he's hearing: left by his father in a children's home (it's hinted that his mother is dead), he calls the number he has for his Dad, only to hear that the line is no longer in service. He's told that his father has moved without leaving a forwarding address and, unconvinced, he leaves school one morning to go there himself where he not only finds an empty apartment but learns that his bike is gone as well. With the school counselors on his tail he ducks into a doctor's office and literally crashes into Samantha (Cecile de France, most recently seen by American audiences in Clint Eastwood's "Hereafter") and hangs on to her. Surprised, but not fazed, the first words she says to him are, "You can hold me, but not too tight."

Review: Tony Kaye's 'Detachment' Is A Fascinating Mess You Can't Look Away From

  • By Cory Everett
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  • March 14, 2012 3:05 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Though it had flown mostly under the radar, cinephiles were pretty thrilled a few weeks ago when the Tribeca Film Festival announced the addition of “Detachment” to its lineup. Not only was the cast top notch but behind the director's chair was British provocateur Tony Kaye, the filmmaker behind the controversial “American History X,” a picture made over 12 years ago. In the interim, things have been tough for the notoriously difficult director and "Detachment" is only his third feature and first narrative film since 1998. "American History X" had its own infamously troubled history when star Edward Norton essentially took over the film, edited it on his own without the director, and Kaye subsequently made a gigantic stink in Hollywood, putting ridiculous ads in Variety and eventually tried to take his name off the film and replace it with the pseudonym Humpty Dumpty. Norton would go on to receive an Oscar nomination for his performance but Kaye (following an unsuccessful attempt to sue New Line Cinema) ended up in director jail for nearly a decade.

SXSW '12 Review: Secrets, Revelations & An Unlikely Friendship Emerge In The Compelling 'Starlet'

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 14, 2012 12:02 PM
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Sean Baker’s film “Starlet” wants to play a little trick on you. It’s a fun trick, and you might be more enjoyable figuring it out on your own, but it’s the most important and interesting part of the movie, so it’s hard to talk about its merits without giving it away. In fact, the main crux of the film isn’t interesting enough without the drama of the environment, the truth of which is slowly revealed throughout the first half of the film. You may be able to figure it out within the first sequence, but the fun is in how the film tells you what’s up.

SXSW '12 Review: Pascal Laugier's 'The Tall Man' An Unfocused & Silly Horror Tale

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 14, 2012 10:58 AM
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  • 13 Comments
A few years ago there was a sort of mini-horror movie renaissance in France, with a bunch of talented young directors paying homage to their favorite American horror films the only way they knew how – by making them incredibly French. Under the stewardship of older French genre provocateurs (like Luc Besson and Christophe Gans), a new litter of spiky young filmmakers gave us visceral and challenging movies like "Them," "High Tension," "Frontier(s)," "Inside," and "Martyrs." The latter in particular was pretty heavily fawned over and picked up by The Weinstein Company for distribution through their Dimension shingle, although when it came time to release the film, they weren't sure what to do with such an extreme movie. Now the writer/director of "Martyrs," Pascal Laugier, is back with his first English language film, "The Tall Man." And whatever blood-splattered charm he might have mustered with "Martyrs," it isn't apparent now.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Intruders' A Mish-Mash Of Horror Tropes In An Undercooked Procedural

  • By John Lichman
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  • March 14, 2012 8:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments
How do you make the most of a ghost story in the age of post-meta horror films? If you're Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, you run with the idea of a fairy tale until you've copied and pasted so many tropes that "Intruders" emerges as a messy puddle.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Bad Brains: A Band In DC' A Kinetic, Frenetic & Long Overdue Tribute To The Legendary Hardcore Band

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 13, 2012 6:37 PM
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  • 4 Comments
As Henry Rollins states early on in "Bad Brains: A Band in DC," a definitive documentary on the legendary hardcore band is long overdue. "Legendary" is even understating it a bit, as Bad Brains helped to invent what we know as American hardcore, taking inspiration from the Sex Pistols and The Damned, melding it with their own funk and soul inspired musicality and "positive attitude message” and electric performance style to birth a beast all their own. Bad Brains influenced everyone from Rollins to Minor Threat to the Beastie Boys to the Cro-Mags and more. The new documentary directed by Mandy Stein and Ben Logan attempts to capture and commemorate the history of this band while also dealing with the serious issues they have faced, mostly thanks to wonderfully (and destructively) unhinged lead singer H.R.

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