The Playlist

Review: 'Roadie' A Compelling Portrait Of The Sad Aftermath Of A Failed Life On The Road

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • January 5, 2012 10:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
For some, life is a series of indignities. One second too slow, one step too far, and our dreams go unfulfilled. In every bar in the country, there is someone drinking away his regrets, trying to make peace with the records they didn’t break and the hearts they didn’t soothe. Michael Cuesta’s “Roadie” is a film about one of those men.
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Review: 'John Mellencamp: It’s About You’ Is An Amateur, Empty Music Documentary

  • By Ryan Sartor
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  • January 4, 2012 1:02 PM
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  • 0 Comments
“John Mellencamp: It’s About You” is a documentary directed, shot and edited by professional photographer Kurt Markus and his son, Ian Markus. The film’s title refers to a debate between Mellencamp and Kurt as to whom the subject of the film would be. Mellencamp wanted the movie to be about Kurt; Kurt wanted it to be about Mellencamp, but by the end of its seventy-nine minute running time, the debate’s winner is as unclear as the movie’s point, purpose, or reason for existing. It’s a film that really should have stayed on the cutting room floor and likely would have were it not for John Mellencamp’s name in the title. At the beginning of the doc, Kurt admits that neither he nor his son know anything about filmmaking. The man is not kidding.
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Review: 'Pariah' Is So Much More Than Just This Year's 'Precious'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 28, 2011 10:14 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Listen, we understand that sometimes in order to get some attention, indie films need glib comparisons and word out of Sundance this year was that Dee Rees' "Pariah" was this year's "Precious." However, not only is "Pariah" nothing like "Precious", it is so much better and so much more rewarding than anything Lee Daniels "achieved" with his hysterical, exploitative, ghetto soap opera porno. Real in ways few movies ever are, "Pariah" mixes the coming out and coming-of-age story and pitches it against the backdrop of an African-American family adapting to the shifting cultural sexual tides. The result is a film that is warm and raw, sometimes both at the same time, and is easily one of our favorites of the year.

Review: There's A Reason You Didn't Know Alien Invasion Pic 'The Darkest Hour' Was Already In Theaters

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • December 27, 2011 2:35 PM
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  • 5 Comments
In post-apocalyptic movies, it’s tough to know whether concentrated ensembles, empty cities and unpopulated streets are a sign of terrific production design or low-budget shortcutting. In either case, there’s a distinct absence of both extras and ideas in “The Darkest Hour,” a mediocre bit of holiday counterprogramming whose novelty value is limited to its Russian locale and the idea that even a handful of genuinely talented young actors could inject some life into a derivative, uninspired, anemic alien-invasion movie.

Review: 'The Iron Lady' Is A Shabby & Tin-Eared Standard-Issue Biopic

  • By James Rocchi
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  • December 26, 2011 11:22 AM
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  • 18 Comments
Starring two time winner and multiple-Oscar nominee Meryl Streep as British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, "The Iron Lady" will be watched across broad ideological divides; Thatcher was (and is) an icon to the Right, while she was (and is) demonized and disparaged by the Left. The film's also being watched along polarized axes in Hollywood, as well, where awards-season gurus hover to see if Thatcher will get Streep her 17th Oscar nomination or even her 3rd win, and more innocent consumers merely wonder if Streep and the script will provide a quality night out at the movies. And yet these polarized groups will surely all come together to recognize that "The Iron Lady" is the comedy of the year. It's not meant to be.

'Becoming Santa' Is A Joyless Christmas Doc

  • By Ryan Sartor
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  • December 25, 2011 10:39 AM
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  • 28 Comments
When judging modern Christmas movies, a good place to start is with the “hipness” of the film’s music. Danny DeVito does a little hip-hop DJ-ing in “Deck the Halls,” Michael Keaton fronts a touring rock act in “Jack Frost” (his group in the film is called ‘The Jack Frost Band’), and “This Christmas,” while a fine holiday movie, features the great Idris Elba playing passionate, bluesy saxophone in a Jazz club like he’s starring in a Miles Davis biopic. The accompanying vocal track? “Santa Baby.”

Rewind Reviews: 'Dragon Tattoo,' 'We Bought A Zoo,' 'Extremely Loud' & 'Pina'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 22, 2011 1:10 PM
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  • 0 Comments
We know it's a busy time of year, with a plethora of movie choices crowding up the multiplex, and even more coming in the next few days. We thought we'd make it easier to read and find a few reviews of films that come out this week that we ran recently, to refresh your memory and maybe point you in the right direction as you head out to the movies this weekend.

Book Review: 'The Hammer Vault' Is A Historically Rich Treasure Trove

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • December 21, 2011 6:46 PM
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  • 1 Comment
When we reviewed the poster collection "The Art Of Hammer," an overview of the great British studio Hammer Films, we marveled over each slickly reproduced page. And while the experience was lovely (and lasted well beyond our time looking over and reviewing the book, it was about as superficial an experience as you could get.

Review: Cross-Dressing 'Albert Nobbs' A Stodgily Straight Drama

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 21, 2011 2:30 PM
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  • 0 Comments
For Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs" has been a long time coming for its big screen incarnation. Based on a short story by Irish author George Moore, it was first adapted into an off-Broadway production by Simone Benmussa with Close in the lead role that won her an Obie award. The actress has been a driving force behind the film adaptation, shepherding the project for 15 years, taking on the responsibilities of a producer and even co-writing the script with Man Booker prize-winning author John Banville and Gabriella Prekop.

Review: 'Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close' Is Often Moving But Insufficiently Effective

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • December 18, 2011 5:30 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Oskar Schell, the protagonist of "Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close," isn’t like other boys. Sure, he likes laughing and junk food and having a good time like the other kids. But this overly precocious ten year old is more of an Encyclopedia Brown in training. With the guidance of his father, he pieces together the mysteries of history, breaking down everyday life into a puzzle. The unspoken tragedy of this is that Oskar doesn’t have a life. What makes up his existence is the notion of an interconnected web attaching his life experiences as if they all influenced another, domino-style. He’s a ten year old boy who doesn’t appear to have many friends, aside from his overactive father.

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