The Playlist

LFF '11 Review: 'Wild Bill' Is An Immensely Likable Directorial Debut From Dexter Fletcher

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • October 23, 2011 5:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments
For whatever reason, directorial debuts by British character actors tend to lean towards the gritty kitchen-sink drama; Tim Roth, Gary Oldman and, more recently, Paddy Considine have all broken their filmmaking cherry with uncompromisingly tough, bleak subject matter. Considering that it involves abandonment, council estates and the risk of being taken into care, one might be forgiven for expecting the same from Dexter Fletcher's first film, "Wild Bill." But then, Fletcher's best known for being one of the central quartet, alongside Jason Statham, Jason Flemyng and Nick Moran, in Guy Ritchie's debut "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels," and for appearing frequently in Matthew Vaughn's pictures, so could Fletcher have turned out some kind of guns and geezers movie instead?

Review: 'Norman' A Well-Observed, Tender & Moving Ode To Adolescence & Loss

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 20, 2011 5:15 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Being a teenager is hard enough, but for Norman (Dan Byrd), the minefield of emotions he is forced to navigate is almost absurd in its proportion. Certainly not popular, but not a total exile either, Norman seems to exist in his own bubble at high school, one that keeps his pervading depression and suicidal thoughts as a close companion. But if this weren't enough, Norman, still reeling from the tragic death of his mother in a car accident, is also bearing witness to his father (Richard Jenkins) wasting away in the final stage of stomach cancer, with this painful experience compounded by the worry that the bills around the house are starting to pile up. But with all of this comes a shining ray of light in Emily (Emily VanCamp), a classmate who shares Norman's oddball sense of humor (and is the rare girl who loves Monty Python) but more importantly, shows a genuine interest in the outsider.
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Review: 'Le Havre' Another Hilarious, Humane & Moving Film From Aki Kaurismaki

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 20, 2011 4:13 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The following is a reprint of our review from Cannes.

Review: 'Margin Call' A Compelling 24-Hour Slice Of The Start Of The Economic Collapse

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 20, 2011 3:15 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The following is a reprint of our review from Cannes.

VIFF '11: Lo-Fi Puppets And A Big, Hilarious Heart; 'Kooky' Is Destined To Be A Family Cult Classic

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • October 20, 2011 1:54 AM
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  • 3 Comments
In many ways, “Kooky” harkens back to the halcyon days of yore (read: in particular the ‘80s) when things were scary in kids’ movies. Or maybe we're just starting to show our old age, but didn't it seem like filmmakers back then were unafraid to at least hint at the possibility of actual threat and potential harm to characters, if not follow through on it completely? It was certainly a different time. Maybe they were untethered by the whims of insanely over-protective parents and ludicrous MPAA ratings strictures that insist on rounding off every sharp edge, creating a bland cinematic landscape these days that all-too-often wears down a movie for families to a pathetic, sanitized nub.

NYFF '11 Review: 'Play' Is A Confident, Complex Look At Social Issues In Sweden

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • October 19, 2011 12:58 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Festivals can be a great place to discover new, brilliant cinema, but often times the unknown films get drowned out by the heavily buzzed or the latest by a longstanding director. How many of us at the New York Film Festival saw "Martha Marcy May Marlene" and "The Kid with a Bike" but, for whatever reason, happened to miss out on "The Loneliest Planet"? It's highly likely that this writer isn't alone. Still, one person generally can't see everything a festival has to offer, so flicks that don't have Palme d'Or helmers behind them or a truckload of auspicious praise for their "breakout performer" tend to get shafted. Still, it's a must to attend those we know nothing about. Besides the fact that they deserve it, they also have something those lauded ones don't: the ability to surprise; for the viewer to go in blind and be completely taken without having known a thing about its cast or the curriculum vitae of the filmmaker. With movie news at the click of a button and various media available all over the web, this is a rare occurrence. We've had a few very pleasant whammies this year, from the social/political critiquing "Policeman" to the sweet "Corpo Celeste," and we're happy to add Ruben Östlund's "Play" to that trust.

VIFF '11: In Belgian 'Bullhead' Sympathy For The Devil Is A Mark Of Quality

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • October 19, 2011 11:55 AM
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  • 1 Comment
“No matter what you do or think, one thing is for sure, you’re always fucked. Now, tomorrow, next week or next year, until the end of time, fucked.”

Review: 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' A Stunner With A Breakout Turn By Elizabeth Olsen

  • By James Rocchi
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  • October 19, 2011 5:11 AM
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  • 12 Comments
The following is a reprint of our review from Sundance.

Review: 'The Catechism Cataclysm' Is An Indescribable & Unforgettable Curio

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • October 19, 2011 2:56 AM
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  • 0 Comments
If you’re a student of screenplay structure with a dog-eared copy of a Robert McKee book, it’s best to stay away from “The Catechism Cataclysm.” The new film from director Todd Rohal spends a good majority of its scant seventy-five minute runtime stymieing conventional thought, trafficking in casual blasphemy to depict a metaphysical journey into hell for a protagonist heavily under-equipped to deal with such trauma.
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Book Review: 'Drew Struzan: Oeuvre' Is A Beautifully Complete Look At The Master Illustrator's Work

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • October 19, 2011 2:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Last fall, the great "Art of Drew Struzan" book was released. It did a fairly comprehensive job of chronicling the career of the master illustrator and offered colorful commentary by the artist, giving us an exclusive peek behind the scenes of some of his most memorable work. Just as amazing as seeing early versions of his poster designs for movies like "Back to the Future" was learning some of the circumstantial anecdotes, such as how his concept for "Money Pit," featuring the house capsizing like the Titanic, was shelved because of a real-life ocean liner tragedy. But the selection was obviously chosen for specific reasons – to illustrate a certain point or showcase the artist's creative process. All of his iconic illustrations were there and accounted for (every "Star Wars" and "Indiana Jones" one-sheet, splashed across the glossy page) but there was just as much left out.
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