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The Playlist

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).

SXSW '12 Review: 'Bay Of All Saints' An Honest Exploration Of The Communities Of The Waterfront Slums In Brazil

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 16, 2012 1:43 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Winner of of the Documentary Feature Audience Award at SXSW, "Bay of All Saints," directed by Annie Eastman, is an affecting little gem of a documentary, a look inside a world very different from our own, in the waterfront slums of Bahia, Brazil. These slums aren't so much waterfront as they are in the water, shacks made of salvaged planks and stilts, swaying in an ocean of garbage. Known as palafitas, people have been creating homes there for 60 years, filling in the sea underneath their houses with bags of trash; creating land with refuse where there was none and then claiming it as their own.

SXSW '12: 'Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots' Is An Explosive Chronicle of A Pivotal Moment In Our Nation's History

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 16, 2012 1:21 PM
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  • 1 Comment
"Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots" gets right to the point, starting off with a bang, or perhaps a police baton to the face, as Rodney King walks down the stretch of highway where his notorious beating took place, reenacting that fateful night. The film, produced by VH1 Rock Docs and directed by Mark Ford, tells the story of the 1992 LA riots, using stunning archival footage and interviews with people who were there. It also draws the connection between the riots and the gangsta rap of the time, featuring N.W.A., Ice Cube and Ice T as both the poets and prophets of this outburst of rage and destruction. Fittingly, it's narrated by Snoop Dogg, who found his success in the wake of the riot. The film is an explosive, blistering analysis of this historic event in American history, viewed through the lens of hindsight 20 years later.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Girls Against Boys' Is A Feminist (But All-Too-Familiar) Revenge Tale

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 16, 2012 12:42 PM
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  • 1 Comment
One of the more interesting aspects of this year's SXSW Film Festival is how it opened with Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon's barbed horror deconstruction "Cabin in the Woods" and then, for much of the rest of the festival, was content with showing movies that reiterated all the bad habits and hoary clichés that "Cabin in the Woods" so effortlessly lampooned. (This includes everything from the failed Clive Owen ghost story "Intruders" to the endlessly misogynistic "V/H/S.") It was like starting the festival with a documentary about the quagmire in Iraq and then showing a bunch of movies celebrating combat. And while "Girls Against Boys" (which was just picked up by Anchor Bay, which more or less assures its destiny as cult darling) doesn't totally succeed in its lofty goals, it is one of the more enjoyable entries in the festival, if only because it at least attempts to tease out meaning and subversion in a slate dominated by the same old shit.

SXSW '12 Review: 'In Our Nature' An Exploration Of Discord & Dysfunction Backed By Strong Performances

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • March 16, 2012 11:37 AM
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  • 0 Comments
If it weren’t for dysfunctional relationships, independent films might never have any stories to tell. “In Our Nature” is the latest in a long line of small-scale films about children who don’t get along with their parents, and the terms both come to in the process of a shared experience that throws them together – in predictably unwitting fashion, of course. But solid performances from the central quartet of actors, including Zack Gilford, Jena Malone, John Slattery and Gabrielle Union elevate Brian Savelson’s debut as a writer and director despite its familiarity as not just a story but almost an entire cinematic subgenre.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Lovely Molly' Is A Lovely (If Muddled) Old Fashioned Ghost Story

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 16, 2012 11:19 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Back in 1999, along with a confederate (Daniel Myrick), Eduardo Sanchez incorporated a somewhat creaky aesthetic to their horror film "The Blair Witch Project," using an updated version of the faux documentary approach that gave us everything from "Cannibal Holocaust" to "Zelig," adapting it to today's technologically attuned climate (and throwing in liberal helpings of pre-millennial dread). They helped create the viable found footage genre, a point-of-view style that is frequently used today (two of this year's most buzzed-about hits, "Project X" and "Chronicle," employ this device). Now, more than a decade later, Sanchez is attempting to reclaim the genre he helped kick-start (sort of), with "Lovely Molly," but instead of some new blast of fresh air, the film is a charmingly old fashioned tale of ghosts (both real and imagined) and the way that pain from the past can possess us, no matter how far removed we are from it we are.

Review: 'Jeff Who Lives At Home' Takes The Duplass Bros Mainstream For Their Best Film Yet

  • By James Rocchi
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  • March 16, 2012 10:38 AM
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  • 0 Comments
As surreal as it is to see a micro-budget Duplass Brothers film start with the stars and mountainous terrain of the Paramount logo, in many ways that contradiction and clash sets the tone for their new comedy "Jeff Who Lives at Home." Strange things are afoot in the cosmos as Jeff (played with affable confusion and large-framed, good-hearted charm by Jason Segel) is trying to keep his eyes open for what the universe might be telling him, in terms of his destiny and purpose. Also, his mom Sharon (Susan Sarandon) would like it if he could get his ass off the couch in her basement and go to Home Depot to get wood glue to fix a broken pantry door slat …

Review: 'Delicacy' Delves Into A Memory That Can't Be Forgotten With A Face That Everyone Loves

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 16, 2012 9:43 AM
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  • 0 Comments
At the start of "Delicacy", we meet two lovers, Nathalie (Audrey Tatou) and Francois (Pio Marmai). They are at play, re-creating the memories of their first encounter at a smoky French restaurant, where he gambled as to what she would order, making his move when she proved his thoughts correct. It's the image Francois already had of his future paramour, and, "Delicacy" argues, the one that mattered the greatest. What is love if not a permanent feeling for a temporary state?

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