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The Playlist

Review: 'The Trouble With Bliss' A Low-Key, No-Stakes Dramedy With Little Pull

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 21, 2012 9:59 AM
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  • 0 Comments
When we first meet Morris Bliss (Michael C. Hall), he's in his bed enjoying some post-coital time with Stephanie (Brie Larson), a much younger high-school student. It's late in the afternoon and Morris is eager to usher Stephanie out of the house before his father Danny (Peter Fonda) comes home, but the attractive Stephanie knows that she wields the upper hand in the sexual dynamic and drags things out, peppering her middle aged lover with questions. We learn that he dreams of traveling to the places he's read about in books, with his destinations already pinned on a map. And through their banter, Morris is shocked to learn that Stephanie is actually the daughter of a former classmate. Now while ordinarily that might seem like a big deal, as we soon learn in "The Trouble With Bliss," Morris' "troubles" just really aren't all that serious.
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SXSW '12 Review: 'Sun Don't Shine' Is A Watercolor Wisp Hybrid Of An Indie Relationship Pic & Murder Mystery Movie

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 20, 2012 2:56 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Early on in Amy Seimetz’s “Sun Don’t Shine,” it becomes very clear that this isn’t just your average young-white-couple-with-relationship-problems-on-a-road-trip indie flick that we can come to expect from festivals like SXSW. Oh, Crystal and Leo have problems alright. And a bad relationship. And a road trip to go on. But the one very big problem that lies at the crux of “Sun Don’t Shine” is rotting in their trunk. That pretty much eclipses the “who else have you slept with” conversations they might have (but they’ll have those too).

SXSW '12 Review: 'Sunset Strip' Is A Definitive History & Tribute To The Famed Street That Loses Sight Of Its Purpose

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 20, 2012 1:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
For most, the phrase “Sunset Strip” conjures up images of neon lights, sun-kissed exposed skin and long, druggy, rock and roll fueled nights. This is the conceit promised by the new documentary of the same name by Hans Fjellestad, and it (mostly) delivers, offering up a definitive history of the famed street, that is hindered only by a confusion of purpose and a loose structure.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Beware Of Mr. Baker' Is A Rollicking, Dangerous & Ultimately Transcendent Ride With Cream Drummer Ginger Baker

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 20, 2012 12:43 PM
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This year’s SXSW had a few strong themes running throughout its selections, and in the documentary category, this was seen in the numerous films about '70s rock icons such as “Paul Williams: Still Alive,” “Marley,” the preview of “Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me,” and heck, even “Bad Brains: A Band in DC” fits into this category. But the Documentary Feature winning film, “Beware of Mr. Baker,” about Cream drummer Ginger Baker, certainly earned its award, as it blows those other (quite remarkable) films out of the water, starting with one vicious rap to the nose.

Counterpoint Review: 'The Raid: Redemption' Adds A Little Bit Of Steroids To The Same Martial Arts Film You've Seen Twice Before

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 20, 2012 10:56 AM
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  • 10 Comments
After much hype and love from the festival circuit, "The Raid: Redemption" begins rolling out into theaters this weekend. And while we saw the film at Sundance and called it a "triumph" not everyone at The Playlist office felt the same way. So here's a different take on the pulse pounding action flick.

Review: 'Mister Rogers & Me' A Loose & Loving Tribute To America's Favorite Neighbor

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 20, 2012 9:59 AM
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One of the biggest movies at the box office for children last year was "The Smurfs." Taking in over $560 million worldwide, the 3D, CG/live action reboot tossed in references to Aerosmith, "Rock Band," bodily functions and "Midnight Cowboy" (among many others) in a slick and glossy production whose greatest accomplishment was keeping kids in once place for 86 minutes, while harried parents got a moment to breathe. It says something about how much the idea and perception of entertainment for children has changed, that in watching old clips of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," the show practically feels revolutionary. Moving at a measured, distinctly unhurried pace, with a man who spoke honestly and directly to his young viewers, even decades later, for anyone who grew up watching the show, Fred Rogers still represents an honesty and integrity in children's programming that simply hasn't been matched. And it's those values of caring, decency and love for your neighbor that are honored in Benjamin and Christofer Wagner's "Mister Rogers & Me."

Counterpoint Review: 'The Hunger Games' Is A Tired, Overlong Blockbuster Lacking Flair & Imagination

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 20, 2012 9:03 AM
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  • 42 Comments
With "The Hunger Games" arriving in theaters this weekend and expected to blow up the box office, early reviews have been very positive and anticipation has been running high. Our own review called it "an engaging, thoughtful, populist piece of entertainment that transcends gender, genre or source material." But not everyone in The Playlist camp felt the same. Here's a counterpoint review of the film that offers up a wholly different assessment of the upcoming franchise starter.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Eden' Is A Gripping Sex Slavery Drama That Isn't As Dour As It Sounds

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 19, 2012 4:46 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Often the problem when making an "issue" movie, wherein you tackle some far-reaching social, systemic, or religious injustice, is that scope often becomes too burdensome, with the given topic often begging for thoughtful, intimate conversation and not the broad strokes that cinema offers. The best issue movies, things like Steven Soderbergh's multi-layered "Traffic," make the central concern seem both universal and incredibly personal, often setting aside crass moralization (the stuff "Crash" was mired in – hey, racism still exists, everybody!) for actual entertainment. "Eden," the Narrative Feature winner at South by Southwest, similarly tackles the issue of sex slavery, but it does so in a way that never feels too clumsy or overarching. Instead, it's a character study with thriller elements; it exposes you to a horrible underworld without ever beating you over the head with it.

Review: 'Life's Too Short' Gets Darker, Grows More Incisive As It Heads Toward The Season Finale

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 18, 2012 12:58 PM
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  • 7 Comments
While Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have been rightly celebrated for creating some of the best, most observant comedy of the last few years in "The Office" and "Extras," the success and brilliance of those shows have been possible due to their willingness to eviscerate the main characters. David Brent and Andy Millman both have their ego and hubris splashed heavily with buckets of cold water throughout both series. What has made both of those shows rise beyond their seeming sitcom trappings, has been the greater character truths that arrive as their grand ambitions face hard and harsh reality.

Review: 'Gimme The Loot' Is A Heartfelt But Dull Look At Two Teen Graffiti Artists

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 16, 2012 3:41 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Throughout "Gimme the Loot," you'll ask yourself the following question: why is this movie called "Gimme the Loot?" Then it becomes clear: if the movie were authentically named, it would probably be called "Bomb the Apple," since the two main characters (Tysheeb Hickson and Tashiana R. Washington) are young graffiti artists looking to tag (or "bomb") the giant apple that comes out after players hit a home run at CitiField (formerly Shea Stadium, which it's referred to as here).

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