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The Playlist

Review: Christianity & College Life Collide In Fresh 'Blue Like Jazz'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 12, 2012 6:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Most discerning moviegoers flinch when greeted with the prospect of a "Christian" film. Religion and mainstream cinema do not make comfortable bedfellows, as many films in this subgenre fit the very definition of "preaching to the choir," concerned not with challenging viewers as much as pandering to their most base instincts. "Blue Like Jazz," based on a book of autobiographical essays from writer and Christian Donald Miller, likely gives pause to those on the fence about religion-based material. Though this Kickstarter-funded effort, one that by far surpassed its budgetary goal on that website, actually plays like a real live movie, with actors, location, editing and proper music employed. Thank the Lord for small favors and damning praise!

Review: 'Suing The Devil' A Genuine Career Low For Malcolm McDowell

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 12, 2012 3:59 PM
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  • 14 Comments
The spirit of Tommy Wiseau is alive and well in the new, Malcolm McDowell-produced faith-centric indie “Suing The Devil." There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that McDowell, who stars as the titular Beelzebub, has over the course of his storied career, gone from working with Stanley Kubrick and Lindsay Anderson to slumming it in a low-rent Christian film that makes “Fireproof” look like “Dr. Zhivago.”

Review: 'How To Grow A Band' A Decent Portrait Of Musician Chris Thile And Punch Brothers

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 12, 2012 1:58 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Subject Chris Thile lets us in on a little Irish saying, told to him by his ex-father-in-law: “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.” Should we expect that the following documentary will be a dubious account of progressive bluegrass band Punch Brothers? It’s a peculiar way to start things off (especially for a meat-and-potatoes band documentary -- this isn’t “F For Fake”), suggesting that what’s to come may not exactly be the straight story, but at least will be an enjoyable one. “How To Grow A Band” does prove to be entertaining even if you’re not already aware of musician Thile’s various exploits, though in its effort to “tell a good story” without the pesky thing called truth (in this case a feel-good story of a band experimenting and coming out on a top), it often overlooks any legitimate tension brewing in the band.

Review: 'The Three Stooges' A Limp Homage To A Legendary Comedy Trio

  • By Simon Abrams
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  • April 12, 2012 1:16 PM
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  • 9 Comments
There doesn't seem to be a single pressing reason for the Farrelly Brothers to have made a Three Stooges-less movie titled "The Three Stooges." Bobby and Peter Farrelly's love of the Stooges is well-known, but they should have left well enough alone after "Dumb and Dumber," a superior and certainly easier to swallow Stooges homage. For starters, the three comedians in the Farrellys' new and more direct tribute's title roles just don't have any comedic chemistry. Geographically, the Farrellys' trio may be close-knit but beyond that, there's nothing to suggest that Sean Hayes, Will Sasso and Chris Diamantopoulos are an organically united group. It should be noted that there's also nothing categorically wrong with the Farrellys reusing their idols' routines. But if the actors playing the Stooges can't form a good, cohesive troupe of comedians, resurrecting Moe, Larry and Curly is pointless.

Review: 'L!fe Happens' One Tiresome Subplot At A Time, None Of Them Worthwhile

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 11, 2012 3:55 PM
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  • 0 Comments
In a recent New York Times profile by Margy Rochlin, Krysten Ritter, ex-model and co-writer/star of “L!fe Happens,” talks about the film as her labor of love. She flinches when mixed reviews are mentioned, claiming the film “shouldn’t be reviewed” and “All that anybody should say about this film is ‘Good for you, girls, go get ‘em.’ -- and that it’s adorable.”

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

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • April 11, 2012 12:03 PM
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  • 3 Comments
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 them 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?

Review: 'Lockout' Is The B-Movie You've Been Waiting For All Year

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 11, 2012 9:02 AM
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  • 7 Comments
In the futurist world of "Lockout," most deadly convicts will be confined to MS-One, a maximum security prison floating in outer space. It’s not long from now (2079, to be exact) strongly suggesting the cultural shift in our society’s interest in interstellar exploration has gone from possibly exploring other planets to merely depositing our human detritus into the galaxy’s gaping maw. It’s a good thing most of these cryosleeping convicts are deranged, irredeemable nutcases, right?

Review: Director Pablo Larrain's Continues His Dark, Comedic Preoccupation With Chile's Tainted History In 'Post Mortem'

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 10, 2012 5:58 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Where did the American Independent cinema of the '70s go, exactly? Did it fizzle and die, or did George Lucas scare it away with his mammoth sci-fi extravaganza? No one knows for sure, but there's something suspicious about the films of Chilean director Pablo Larrain. "Tony Manero," his debut feature, looked and felt like one of those movies, with a more brutal story. In fact, the main character even kind of looked like a young Al Pacino circa "Panic at Needle Park" or "Dog Day Afternoon." The story was political, focusing on Chile during the Pinochet regime, but the director was smart enough to let it play in the background while the main character did his own thing, that being a disco John Travolta impression. No preachy dialogue, no condescending messages. It wasn't a perfect film, but it was a new, skilled director slamming his arms on the table and ordering everyone to take notice. Unfortunately, the film was moderately embraced by critics and mostly wallowed in relative obscurity. A mere 2 years later, the director has decided to attack again with "Post Mortem," a refined and more understated piece, with the same style and code of ethics of his former film.

Review: Uneven Documentary ‘Hit So Hard’ Can’t Decide If It’s A Patty Schemel Portrait Or Hole Alt-Rock Examination

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 10, 2012 2:57 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Patty Schemel is best remembered as the drummer of the alternative rock group Hole, fronted by erstwhile alt-queen rocker, now-notorious loudmouth Courtney Love. For top level context, Schemel laid the thunderous beat on both of Hole’s most popular and well-known records, including 1994’s Live Through This, which was released just four days after frontwoman Courtney Love's husband, Kurt Cobain, was found dead in their home. This is all well-documented. What only the most hardcore of rock aficionados will remember was that Schemel’s drum parts on 1997’s follow-up record Celebrity Skin were replaced by a session drummer at the behest of producer Michael Beinhorn (knob-twiddler for records like Soundgarden's Superunknown, Red Hot Chili Peppers' Mother's Milk and Grave Dancers Union by Soul Asylum).

Review: 'Here' With Ben Foster Is A Punishingly Slow Film With Little Substance Or Soul

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • April 10, 2012 2:57 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Despite naturalistic performances by leads Ben Foster and Lubna Azabal ("Incendies," "Coriolanus") and impressive cinematography by Lol Crawley ("Ballast," "Four Lions"), Braden King's "Here" is a maundering relationship movie with few stakes and even less to say.

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