The Playlist

Review: 'Hugo' A Touching Ode To Cinematic History & The Wonders Of The Imagination

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 22, 2011 10:19 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Yes, we already pretty much reviewed Martin Scorese's "Hugo" when it surprise-screened at the New York Film Festival last month in a not-quite-complete version. Even then in its unfinished state, The Playlist staff on hand were swept away by the fable conjured up on screen, and with this writer now having caught up and taken in the finished version, it's another reason to talk about a movie that we hope isn't lost in the holiday shuffle. Magical, charming and brimming with the kind palpable love for cinema that only a devoted cinephile like Martin Scorsese can bring, "Hugo" is an endearing story where imagination is the biggest special effect of all.

Review: 'Arthur Christmas' Is A Visually Dazzling, Emotionally Rich Holiday Treat

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • November 22, 2011 9:02 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Making a truly classic Christmas movie is a feat that few achieve but many try their hand at. In recent years, studios have cynically tried to graft "edgy" material onto all-audiences Christmas approaches, often times involving Vince Vaughn for reasons that remain obscure, and the results are barely watchable trash-heaps like "Fred Claus" and "Four Christmases." The trick is to modernize an archetypal story for current audiences without losing the seasonal sweetness (there's a reason "Elf," for all its mediocrity, is so beloved). Aardman Animation and Sony have attempted to do just that with "Arthur Christmas," a surprisingly rollicking, visually dazzling, and emotionally rich Christmas movie that actually succeeds in its lofty goals of being an ready-made annual classic. It's practically gift wrapped for the occasion.

Review: 'The Artist' A Joyous, Big Hearted Tribute To Old School Moviemaking

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 21, 2011 10:20 AM
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  • 1 Comment
When The Weinstein Company announced before the kick off the Cannes Film Festival that they had picked up Michel Hazanavicius' "The Artist" it was certainly a surprise. Harvey and Bob laid down big bucks for a film that, in this age of CGI and 3D blockbuster pictures, seems like box office poison. A silent film, in black and white, led by two French stars that are virtually unknown in the United States, it doesn't seem like the kind of movie that, outside of arthouse buffs, would catch on with a broader audience. But, the Weinstein instincts were right on as the movie played like gangbusters to critics (who applauded several times through the screening at Cannes), but moreoover, Hazanavicius' film is a pure joy. Wildly entertaining, with a big generous heart, "The Artist" is not just an exercise in old school filmmaking, it's a beautifully told story that is classic and timeless in feel.

Review: 'Toyland' Is A Cursory Look At A Billion Dollar Industry

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 18, 2011 10:06 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It's that time of year again. Parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters are flocking to shopping malls across the nation to pick up presents for loved ones, and no matter who you are, you likely have at least one stop to make at a toy store for somebody in your life. Each year it seems there are more toys to choose from, and given the Christmas holidays are essentially the time of the year that make or break a product, it's lot like a box office opening weekend -- you either go big or go home. It's a tough industry, with big winners, major players and a lot folks struggling to make to their mark and in documentary "Toyland," filmmaker Ken Sons attempts to explain the journey that gets a toy to market.
More: Reviews, Review

Review: 'The Muppets' Is Inspirational, Celebrational & One Of The Year's Best Films

  • By James Rocchi
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  • November 18, 2011 8:01 AM
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  • 9 Comments
Watching "The Muppets," the Jason Segel-spearheaded effort to re-launch Jim Henson's furry friends and familiar faces into the new millennium after years of corporate tussling and fallow creative hibernation, I wasn't pulled in by having emblems of my youth shoved down my throat with the sickly-sweet toxic oil of retrograde fond remembrance and fuzzy post-modern self-awareness. Instead, I was engaged by the characters, the plot, the message and the medium of the Muppets themselves -- decidedly low-tech puppets in an age when computer-generated imagery makes the imagination both limitless and, too often, lifeless on-screen.

Review: The Suburban Horror Of Unhappiness In 'Rid Of Me'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 17, 2011 6:02 PM
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  • 2 Comments

Review: 'Tyrannosaur' Gets To The Heart Of Perseverance In The Face Of Brutality

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • November 17, 2011 10:20 AM
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  • 4 Comments

Review: Lackluster ‘Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1’ Is Barely 1/2 A Movie

  • By Jeff Otto
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  • November 17, 2011 9:05 AM
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  • 19 Comments

Review: 'Happy Feet Two' Feels Stuck, Motionless & Terribly Cold

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • November 16, 2011 2:45 PM
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  • 1 Comment
There is some precedence for being genuinely excited about "Happy Feet Two" (yes, the number is spelled out). For one, the original film, 2006's "Happy Feet," was more slyly subversive than a movie about tap-dancing penguins has any right to be, with a strong thematic undercurrent that championed not only individualism but, more boldly, atheism. Plus, director George Miller, who co-directed the original (with Warren Coleman and Judy Morris) assumes chief creative control this time around, has a history of whacked-out sequels, having not only crafted the glorious "Mad Max" flick "The Road Warrior," but also the darkly hued follow-up to the sunny Best Picture-nominated "Babe," the altogether unclassifiable "Babe: Pig in the City." Plus, the trailers for "Happy Feet Two" promised a subplot about a pair of shrimp-like crustaceans (voiced by Matt Damon and Brad Pitt) on a journey of their own, which is pretty fucking weird. Sadly, though, "Happy Feet Two" is neither as visually inventive or politically in-your-face. Like many of its feathered stars, the sequel feels stuck, motionless, and terribly cold.

Review: 'Eames: The Architect And The Painter' Is As Well Made & Streamlined As A Piece Of Eames Furniture

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • November 16, 2011 12:01 PM
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  • 1 Comment

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