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The Playlist

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'Dead Man's Burden' Is A Stunningly Shot, Slow Burner Of A Classic, Yet Modern Western

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 17, 2012 9:58 AM
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  • 1 Comment
One of the most cinematically gorgeous independent films in a long time, “Dead Man’s Burden” (along with fellow 2012 indie “Beasts of the Southern Wild," shot on Super 16) truly makes the case for celluloid. While watching this meditative Western, one simply wants to drink in the beauty of the image, and yes, that image is created on 35 mm film. They don’t make RED cameras that can do what this film achieves in terms of sheer richness of image. In the age of digital everything, might independent film, at one time the dominion of digital, be the savior of celluloid?

Review: 'The Girl From The Naked Eye' Strictly For Lovers Of Z-Grade Noir

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • June 15, 2012 11:05 AM
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  • 2 Comments
In the early days of noir filmmaking, even when a book was the source of the story, the films were made with a genuine sense of danger. Noir was still a new genre, and we didn’t exactly know the rules quite yet. That led to filmmakers essentially writing, shooting and performing what they knew, from the dangerous bar down the street, to the dame with whom they shouldn’t have trifled, to the backroom brawls that had the stench of sweat, desperation, and bourbon. It’s a cliché to point out that yesterday’s filmmakers actually lived life, but it’s true -- the internet hadn’t yet been invented.

L.A. Film Fest Review: 'To Rome With Love' Is Another Minor Foreign Postcard From Woody Allen

  • By Emma Bernstein
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  • June 15, 2012 7:36 AM
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  • 2 Comments
In the recent PBS "American Masters" portrait of Woody Allen by director Robert Weide, Allen describes how he has a file folder filled with hundreds of loglines for movies he has come up with over the years; after completing each film, he sorts through them, finds one that speaks to him at the time and writes it up. To that end, "To Rome With Love" feels like four minor stories that Allen found in a pile and loosely stitched together in a narrative tied to Rome. That said, Rome is beautiful, and a mouthwatering set for any director. Unfortunately, you can't build a movie on a set alone.

Review: 'Extraterrestrial' Is A Charming & Ambitious Sci-Fi Rom Com

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • June 14, 2012 1:02 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In 2007 Nacho Vigalondo wrote, directed, and co-starred in "Timecrimes," a loopy Spanish language time travel thriller that announced a bold new voice in science fiction filmmaking. Ingenious on an almost molecular level, the incredibly low budget feature combined traditional time travel concerns (including multiple variations of the same character) with a hard thriller edge and a DePalmian obsession with voyeurism. In short: it was an absolute blast. Well, Vigalondo is finally back, with an altogether different take on science fiction. "Extraterrestrial" (or "Extraterrestre" in its original language) is a kind of romantic comedy set against the backdrop of a global alien invasion. It might not be as bold or crackling as "Timecrimes," but it is just as unique.

Review: 'That's My Boy' Predictably Juvenile & Surprisingly Far Uglier Than The Usual Adam Sandler Offering

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • June 14, 2012 12:37 PM
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  • 8 Comments
Adam Sandler, comedian, A-List star, and leading man of this Friday’s “That’s My Boy,” is not an idiot. Dedicated to preserving his brand, his films have effectively raised a generation, from the sophomoric absurdity of “Billy Madison” to, uh, the sophomoric banality of “Grown Ups.” You can’t keep playing the same notes forever, and Sandler is not the most diverse instrument, so aside from token experiments (“Punch Drunk Love” certainly stands out), “That’s My Boy” is something of a departure: a hard-R rated film featuring an unfamiliar collaborator in director Sean Anders (“Hot Tub Time Machine”) and a co-star who actually makes Sandler, for the first time ever, come across as an elder.

Book Review: In 'Prometheus: The Art Of The Film' Ridley Scott & Co. Offer The Film’s Most Direct Explanation Yet

  • By Christopher Schobert
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  • June 14, 2012 11:00 AM
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  • 12 Comments
Judging by the comments here and here, everyone is a bit “Prometheus”-ed out at this point, even if, like me, you came down on the positive side. It’s easy to forget the film only opened in North America last Friday, so epic is the flow of post-viewing discourse. (“Prometheus”: The “Girls”/"Mad Men" of summer cinema.)

Review: 'Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present' Is A Good But Conventional Doc On An Unconventional Artist

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • June 14, 2012 10:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
In 2010, performance artist Marina Abramović had the attention of everybody, from snobby Manhattanites to Fox News. Her work (which includes a nude couple standing in a busy doorway; exactly what sent the latter into rage) was to be recreated by a number of assistants selected by the artist herself while, at the same time, she put on a new piece: “The Artist is Present.” The idea was simple -- Abramović would be seated in a large room, mute and still, with a patron perched across from her -- yet it proved to be intensely powerful for many (some even moved to tears) and incredibly exhausting for the performer herself. With “Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present,” Matthew Akers attempts to give an informative overview of her oeuvre, while detailing the extensive and strenuous Museum Of Modern Art retrospective of her work and the strangely ethereal titular performance.

Review: 'Rock of Ages' Is Anything But a Good Time

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • June 13, 2012 3:09 PM
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  • 5 Comments
"Rock of Ages" will make you want to raise your arms...and then immediately plunge your fingers into your eyeballs for salvation (you can go back for seconds to rescue your ears). "Hairspray" helmer Adam Shankman directs this movie that will finally kill the '80s nostalgia that continues to plague us if we're lucky and will further root karaoke performances and bar jukeboxes in that hairspray-choked decade if we're not. We've had a sub-par version of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" stuck in our head since we saw it, and we wouldn't wish this fate on anyone, except perhaps the development heads at Warner Bros. As much as everyone keeps trying to make Julianne Hough a star, Steve Perry she is not (though admittedly she is cuter).

Review: 'The Woman In The Fifth' Is A Meandering Literary Mystery With Obvious Answers

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • June 12, 2012 3:05 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Sometimes you just get stuck with some leading men. The rakishly handsome Ethan Hawke, currently starring in “The Woman In The Fifth,” has retained that youthful insouciance despite his mature action star frame. He’s compelling when in motion, clearly a thoughtful actor who can convey several conflicting emotions. In conversation, however, he’s still got that inward intellectual curiosity, as if he’s wondering, what am I, and what is happening around me? No current actor quite clearly portrays dead-serious befuddlement quite like Hawke, who seems equally at home (which is to say perplexed) contemplating the secrets of the universe as he does programming the DVR.

Review: 'Tahrir' Is A Must-See Account Of The Egyptian Uprising

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • June 11, 2012 11:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The "Arab Spring" -- a term frequently used to describe the various countries in the Middle East rising against their much-maligned leaders -- rages on in full force. Though the wave of revolution is powerful, the media tends to be very selective in its coverage, focusing on one country before quickly moving onto another. You can't blame someone if they just assumed Egypt was just dandy now given the lack of coverage, as Libya's the new paramour.
More: Tahrir, Review

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