The Playlist

Review: 'Corman's World' Is A Dazzling Portrait Of An Exploitation Auteur

  • By Drew Taylor
  • |
  • December 16, 2011 11:05 AM
  • |
  • 1 Comment
In Alex Stapleton's dazzling, honest, oddly emotional new documentary "Corman's World: Exploits of a Hollywood Rebel," Roger Corman, the now-85-year-old filmmaker behind such films as "Little Shop of Horrors" and "Death Race 2000," is depicted as a doggedly independent, skinflint-y genius. Through a series of lively interviews with some of Corman's most talented protégés (among them Joe Dante, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Ron Howard and Jonathan Demme) and even livelier clips from his films, the case is made that Corman not only trained and equipped the current batch of living auteurs but that he fundamentally reshaped the Hollywood landscape in profound ways that are still felt today.

Review: Steven Spielberg's 'War Horse' An Awards Bait Movie Overloaded With Nostalgia & Sentiment

  • By Todd Gilchrist
  • |
  • December 16, 2011 10:02 AM
  • |
  • 10 Comments
If David Thomson was accurate when he said of Tom Hanks, “he carries the automatic sentiment of a dog in a film about people,” then the hero of Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” is the equine equivalent of Tom Hanks: among his human counterparts he attracts such instantaneous concern and compassion that audiences are helpless but to sympathize with him. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean you’ll care about the film itself as automatically, because here, Spielberg dials up the sentimentality to almost unbearable levels. His film version of the 1982 novel by Michael Morpungo, which became, in 2007 Nick Stafford’s stage play, comes to us overloaded with nostalgia both historical and cinematic as well as a joylessly persistent sense of nobility. “War Horse” is the type of film for which the term “Oscar bait” was invented, precisely because it feels like there’s no motivation for it to exist except to win awards.

Review: 'Carnage' Is Fun While It Lasts, But Insubstantial & Anonymous

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
  • |
  • December 15, 2011 2:35 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
Compared to his last film, Roman Polanski's "Carnage" must have been a breeze. Not that the shoot for "The Ghost Writer" was "Fitzcarraldo" or anything, but, famously, the project hit a major speed bump in September 2009, while the film was in post-production, when the helmer was arrested in Zurich, and deportation proceedings were begun against him for the statutory rape case that has overshadowed the last thirty-odd years of his career. The Swiss authorities decided not to hand Polanski over, but he still spent months in prison, and was forced to complete post on his Robert Harris adaptation from there.

Marrakech Film Festival '11 Reviews: 'Land of Oblivion' Starring Olga Kurylenko & '180°' The Swiss-German Version Of 'Crash' (Basically)

  • By Jessica Kiang
  • |
  • December 13, 2011 3:23 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
"Land of Oblivion" It is 25 years ago in the small Ukrainian town of Pripyat. People are fishing. A boy goes to look at the tree he and his father planted. A woman prepares for her wedding. And then it starts to rain - not, in itself, a doom-laden event, except if you know that Pripyat was essentially the ground zero town for the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, and what we are really watching is more like a snapshot of Pompeii in the days before Vesuvius erupted.

Review: David Fincher’s ‘Girl With The Dragon Tattoo’ Is An Intense But Dispassionate Thriller

  • By Todd Gilchrist
  • |
  • December 13, 2011 12:21 AM
  • |
  • 18 Comments
Looking at “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” it’s hard not to think of the dark thriller cum procedural as director David Fincher’s “The Departed." Notwithstanding both films being inspired by/remade from acclaimed foreign predecessors, Fincher and Scorsese alike seem to be saying with them, “You wanted me to do this kind of movie? Well, here it is, motherfuckers.”

Review: 'The Sitter' Is A Rough, But Absurdist Romp & Serves As a Natural End Point For David Gordon Green's Comedy Exploration

  • By Drew Taylor
  • |
  • December 12, 2011 5:56 PM
  • |
  • 1 Comment
While formulaic and lazy in its plotting, employing clichés upon clichés and opportune plot conveniences at every turn, David Gordon Green’s scrappy, loose and rough-around-the-edges mainstream comedy, “The Sitter,” is still by and large, an enjoyable little lark thanks to a strong dollop of WTF? absurdisms to round out its corners. And at a brisk 81 minutes, while largely forgettable, it’s still easy to stay engaged in a picture that appears to act as an homage to ‘80s perilous adventure films such as “Adventure’s In Babysitting” and “Risky Business” therefore using mechanical tropes by design.

Review: 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows' An Engaging, Entertaining Sequel Brimming With Charisma & Top Notch Action

  • By Todd Gilchrist
  • |
  • December 9, 2011 11:28 AM
  • |
  • 3 Comments
If “Sherlock Holmes” was the first movie to properly capitalize on Robert Downey Jr.’s career resuscitation after “Iron Man” became a mega-success, then “A Game Of Shadows,” its follow up, is the first sequel to understand how to sustain his appeal without allowing him to eat away at the scenery. Taking an “if it ain’t broke…” attitude towards the original’s combination of snooty deduction, seismic action and borderline silly bromance, Guy Ritchie’s stylish over-plotting actually works to a film’s benefit for once, because it keeps Downey’s febrile charisma in check even as the film expands the visceral, intellectual and even political stakes of its Victorian-by-way-of-MMA universe.

Review: Understated & Powerful Documentary 'Knuckle' Is A Knockout

  • By Todd Gilchrist
  • |
  • December 9, 2011 10:57 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
Given the recent explosion of mixed martial arts in the last several years, it seems like a no-brainer that someone would make a documentary about real-life pugilists who don’t just fight but have a real, deep-rooted beef with one another. But Ian Palmer’s documentary “Knuckle” isn’t a celebration of competition, or even the chronicle of a journey some ambitious hopeful makes en route to victory, or even defeat; rather, it takes a long and in many ways tragic look at two warring Irish clans who have engaged in a rivalry for so long that they keep it going without ever knowing why, and certainly without considering stopping it. A chronicle of two intertwined family histories whose ongoing conflict is as raw and unrefined as the fists of the men who fight, “Knuckle” is an understated but powerful look at a world people know little about, in a way they’ve never seen before.

Review: 'Catch .44' Is Fully Loaded With '90s Crime Movie Clichés

  • By Edward Davis
  • |
  • December 9, 2011 9:57 AM
  • |
  • 2 Comments
"In The Tradition Of The Usual Suspects And Reservoir Dogs" proclaims the back of BluRay box of the copy we received. If only. The spirit may be willing, but the movie from writer and director Aaron Harvey is weak. Seemingly cobbled together out of leftover ideas from every movie that came in the wake of those aforementioned films, with a big debt owed to Quentin Tarantino, "Catch .44" is a bunch of stylistic choices looking for something resembling a movie to hang on to.
More: Reviews, Review

Review: 'London River' A Gentle Current Pain, Anger & Acceptance In The Wake Of Terrorist Attacks

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
  • |
  • December 7, 2011 3:56 PM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
When Elisabeth (Brenda Blethyn) first hears about the suicide bombings that shook London on July 7, 2005, it's from her television set a world away in Guernsey. Among the pastoral setting of her farm, the events that are happening miles away seem even more horrific and unbelievable, but her shock is coupled with a genuine concern. It's not long before she's on the phone to her daughter Jane, who is living in London, looking to be reassured that's she okay. She leaves a message. After not hearing from her, she calls again. And then again, leaving voicemails each time. And that's when worry turns into motherly panic and Elisabeth soon heads to the big metropolis to find her daughter.
More: Review, Reviews

Email Updates

Recent Comments