The Playlist

SXSW '12 Review: 'Safety Not Guaranteed' A Grounded, Genuine, Oddly Effective Charmer

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • March 10, 2012 9:55 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Although at this point there are way too many stories about quirky man-children and the women who love them, “Safety Not Guaranteed” is an oddly effective little charmer. A film that harkens back to the magical-realism adventures of the 1980s rather than the twee dollhouse making of the last decade, Colin Trevorrow’s tale of a trio of journalists who investigate a personals ad from an oddball requesting a partner in a time-travel experiment is far more grounded, genuine, and moving than its conceit suggests. At the same time, there’s little that’s especially new or original about “Safety Not Guaranteed,” but it ekes out a victory over so much of its indie-darling competition simply by following through on the ideas it introduces.

SXSW '12 Review: 'God Bless America' A Funny, Insightful & Outrageous Indictment Of Contemporary Culture

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • March 10, 2012 12:01 AM
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  • 5 Comments
At the movies, righteous anger is in painfully short supply these days, but writer-director Bobcat Goldthwait manages to harness all of his (and more than a little bit of ours) in “God Bless America,” a scathingly funny indictment of the vagaries of contemporary U.S. culture. Compiling an encyclopedic list of offenses unleashed upon the world through the entertainment industry, the pretense of political discourse, and the increasing indignities of human interaction, Goldthwait crafts a revenge fantasy that’s smart, specific, and imminently sympathetic, even when its characters retaliate in admittedly extreme or inappropriate ways. Desperate for a time before TMZ without purely succumbing to rose-colored nostalgia, “God Bless America” is a twisted but troublingly accurate chronicle of contemporary inhumanity, viewed through the eyes of a man no longer capable of ironic detachment.

SXSW '12 Review: 'The Cabin In The Woods' Is A Smart, Witty Blast For Genre Fans

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 9, 2012 9:45 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Almost no genre (bar perhaps the romantic-comedy) revolves around formula as heavily as the horror film. Obviously there are sub-categories: the haunted-house film, the zombie flick, the vampire movie. But a disproportionate amount of the involves a group of horny teens going to a remote location, taking off clothes, making stupid decisions, and getting picked off one by one, whether by a man in a mask, or by some kind of supernatural creature or force. So on hearing the title, and indeed basic premise, of "The Cabin In The Woods," it's hard not to be a little downhearted. Is this the same old cheapo horror flick we've seen dozens, if not hundreds of times?

SXSW '12 Review: 'Electrick Children' An Offbeat Indie With A Trio Of Charming Young Leads

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • March 9, 2012 9:01 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Opening the Generation section of the 2012 Berlinale, which is designed to promote films for, by and/or about young people, we honestly weren't sure what to expect from "Electrick Children," the debut film from writer/director Rebecca Thomas. Colour us pleasantly surprised then to discover that the film is a genuinely enjoyable coming of age tale that compensates, and then some, for its narrative shortcomings with the winningness of the three central performances, from Rory Culkin, Liam Aiken and a luminous Julia Garner. It's really Garner's movie, and young though she is, she imbues a role that could easily have come across as prissy or doltish with a perfect combination of sweetness, naivete and stubbornness that sells even the less convincing nooks and crannies of the story.

Review: 'Sound Of Noise' A Clever, Unique & Musical Heist Film

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 9, 2012 5:01 PM
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  • 1 Comment
“This is a gig!” screams a gang of masked assailants as they enter a busy Swedish bank. The customers are pushed and prodded, forced into a corner, hiding behind their ruffled suits as the perpetrators begin to activate the shredders, printing cash and destroying it in front of them, an activity that involves the ruffling of dollars, the tapping of keyboards, the clang of coins against glass, and yes, maybe some added percussive activities. It’s music, and it’s only one of many “attacks” from this ambitious group.

Review: 'The Ballad Of Genesis & Lady Jaye' Is A Fascinating Love Story Cum Examination Of Fluid Identity & Pandrogeny

  • By The Playlist
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  • March 9, 2012 12:43 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Going beyond mere ideas of pansexuality, gender reassignment and transgenderdom, the documentary "The Ballad of Genesis & Lady Jaye" centers on the relatively unique notion of pandrogeny -- the concept of a man and woman shedding their individuality and appearance and becoming one and the same, in part through plastic surgery. Raising all kinds of fascinating questions about the notions of identity, the Marie Losier-directed documentary is often bizarre, trangressive and ideologically challenging, but always engrossing.

Review: 'Good For Nothing' A Straight-Faced Modern Western, No Gimmicks Allowed

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 8, 2012 8:58 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Westerns get a new accent in New Zealand's "Good For Nothing". Enter the universe of this film, and you'll soon know that it's a man's world, with dusty cheeks, spit-slinging bad guys, and danger rattling like a snake around every corner. The gents don't fool around, which explains why the tagline reads "This Ain't No Place For A Lady". And yet, a lady we see at the film's start, an Englishwoman who sets her dainty, proper feet on violent soil, within seconds in the clutches of a violent marauder whose closeness only makes the class chasm separating them grow wider.
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Review: 'Salmon Fishing In The Yemen' Is All Heart and No Brain

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • March 8, 2012 5:59 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Picking on "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen" makes us feel like a bit of a bully, as though we're mercilessly teasing that super nice but incredibly dumb girl in class. It's an affable, inoffensive British comedy that just wants you to like it so much that you can't help but snicker behind its back. Or are we the only ones who are that cruel?

Review: 'Friends With Kids' Is, Sadly, A Conventional Look At Unconventional Relationships

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 8, 2012 2:58 PM
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  • 3 Comments
The concept of the nuclear family has become something of an outdated notion. With children now found in a wide array of living situations -- single parents, gay parents, adoptions, etc. -- the "ideal" of a child being raised by a mommy and a daddy is shifting, with a newer idea of just two good parents -- whomever they may be -- being of the utmost importance. The film world is slowly beginning to recognize and write stories that reflect the changing times. Of course, "The Kids Are All Right" is one of the best movies to present an unconventional family, while "The Switch" represents what happens when you try to approach this kind of thematic material without anything to say. Jennifer Westfeldt's ("Kissing Jessica Stein") latest effort behind the camera, "Friends With Kids," finds the actress/writer/director oscillating between an intelligent look at modern relationships and a conventional rom-com, to mixed results.

Review: 'Jiro Dreams Of Sushi' A Fascinating (If Sometimes Jarring) Profile Of A Master Chef

  • By Simon Abrams
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  • March 6, 2012 4:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
There’s something weirdly off-putting about the music cues in "Jiro Dreams of Sushi," a documentary-cum-character study of an 85-year-old sushi “shokunin” or craftsman. Octogenarian Jiro Ono is the cheeriest of workaholics. He can’t imagine retiring, at least not until he’s either too ugly or too infirm to serve his patrons. Simply put, Ono loves his demanding job as the head chef at Sukiyabashi Jiro, his own 10-seat, Ginza-based sushi bar. Sukiyabashi Jiro is the smallest restaurant to be given a three-star rating by the Michelin Guide.

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