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The Playlist

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

Review: After Dark Action Pics 'El Gringo,' 'The Philly Kid,' 'Stash House' & 'Transit' An Unven Offering Of Genre Fare

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • June 9, 2012 11:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
After Dark has been busy releasing a full slate of genre fare, and today we take a look at the After Dark Action lineup which dropped no less than four new movies in May. They each had a brief theatrical run are now available on VOD. Read on below to hear our thoughts on these movies featuring Dolph Lundgren, Scott Adkins, Jim Caviezel and more.

Brooklyn Film Festival: Short Film Block Reveals Some Promising New Talent

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • June 9, 2012 10:38 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Despite the insistence of a Brooklynite to quack in between films, the short showcase put on by the Brooklyn Film Festival was an invigorating experience; a presentation of some truly talented individuals who will likely impress many when their features eventually unfurl.

Review: '5 Broken Cameras' Moves Immensely But Not Without Raising Crucial Questions

  • By Mark Zhuravsky
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  • June 9, 2012 10:18 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Sometimes, context is everything. “5 Broken Cameras,” a film by Palestinian citizen Emad Burnat and Israeli citizen Guy Davidi, offers some context but mostly evidence for the brutal, overly aggressive Israeli army response to non-violent demonstrations. You watch with gnawing unease as soldiers lob tear gas with abandon, scattering protestors, who sometimes respond with volleys of rocks and seemingly whatever else falls underhand. It’s all wrenching, and immediately, whether the filmmakers intended for the film to or not, drafts a line between “good” and “bad,” simple as those terms may be. Yet for all it’s emotional pull, the drama inherent in a group of peasants (Burnat self-identifies as one) attempting to stage non-violent demonstrations in the face of unyielding odds, “5 Broken Cameras” begs for context beyond what is given via narration from Burnat, who is prone to flights of philosophy that would make Herzog proud.
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Brooklyn Film Festival Review: '[s]comparse' Is An Interesting If Unadventurous Documentary

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • June 9, 2012 9:57 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There's a small Italian island in between Sicily and Africa that, for years, has served as a stepping stone for African immigrants looking for a brighter future. Recently, a large film production took to this haven in order to tell a fictional account of these people -- though, as it turns out, the migrants play second fiddle to a white character who leads the narrative. Camera in tow, Antonio Tibaldi documents the behind-the-scenes riff raffs, shooting both the African extras and the local townspeople as they display their respective frustrations with the grandiose movie attempting to tell their story. "[s]comparse" has plenty of intelligent, great ideas -- for example, the movie shoot is treated like an unwanted foreigner by the natives, opening up plenty of interesting layers -- but is brought down by its conventional, repetitive structure.

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

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • June 7, 2012 2:56 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Does the name Paul Williams mean anything 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 is beloved by the fans who have managed to remember him through the years. In the new documentary "Paul Williams: Still Alive," director Steve Kessler, one of those fans from the '70s, is surprised to discover Williams is still alive and kicking, and sets out to get to know Williams and see how he's doing after all these years. The result is a documentary that is moving, heartwarming and a delightful exploration of a truly unlikely friendship.
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