The Playlist

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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Review: 'Retreat' Piles On The Twists, But Doesn't Deliver The Thrills

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 18, 2011 8:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The following is a reprint of our review from Fantasia.

VIFF '11: Paddy Considine's Directorial Debut 'Tyrannosaur' An Uneven Portrait Of A Damaged Man

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • October 18, 2011 5:59 AM
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  • 3 Comments
The opening scene of “Tyrannosaur” is a real belter. Through near whiplash-inducing cross cuts, we are introduced to a night in the life of Joseph (Peter Mullan) as he drinks heavily and stews with unfettered rage on a barstool (and back at home with a sawed-off wood baseball bat that looks like a leftover from the “Gangs of New York” props department). Then he does something really awful: he kills his dog. He doesn’t necessarily try to do this; it’s more the product of his excessive drinking, nasty temper and hateful, cynical outlook on the world. But he still did it, and the audience will never forget this for the remainder of the film.

Review: 'Miss Representation' Exposes An Ugly Truth That Needs To Be Seen

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • October 18, 2011 5:01 AM
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  • 11 Comments
It’s no shock to anyone who has turned on the TV, read a magazine, spied a billboard or surfed the internet that media representations of women are problematic at best. At worst, they are a both a symptom and cause of a troubled society reaching a tipping point in its relationship with sex and violence onscreen. This is the thesis set out by “Miss Representation,” a searing documentary directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, an actress, activist, and wife of California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. This film, born out of anxiety about the world she was bringing a little girl into, and inspired by her past struggles in life, configures itself as a sort of “An Inconvenient Truth” of sexism in the media. Cutting together talking heads interviews with media experts, professors, actresses, and heads of state with truly shocking statistics, and a barrage of rapid fire images culled from advertising, film and TV, the amount of information and sheer scope of this project is almost too much to bear.
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VIFF '11: 'Elena' Is A Dramatic Masterwork From Russian Director Andrey Zvyagintsev

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • October 18, 2011 2:57 AM
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  • 7 Comments
For this writer, there are fewer things in cinema more satisfying than a filmmaker in total control of their story. Sure, we love the visceral thrill of a well-choreographed, impeccably staged action sequence as much as the next red-blooded human being. And there’s the perfect combination of song/score over moving images, blissful moments heightened through all the tools available in the medium. But then there are those rare moments when a film has just begun, and the feeling sets in immediately that you’re in good hands; that no matter what happens in this film, you can trust the filmmaker has thought everything through and knows what he or she is doing. It’s a good feeling. Comforting even. But it’s rare.

LFF '11 Review: 'Dreams Of A Life' Is An Authentically Moving Portrait Of A Forgotten Life

  • By Sam Price
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  • October 17, 2011 6:01 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Joyce Carol Vincent died in her flat in 2003. An unmarried forty year-old woman living alone in a less-than-luxurious one bedroom London bedsit, and surrounded by unopened Christmas presents, it would be three years before her remains (now simply decomposed to that of a skeleton), would ever be found -- and only then able to be identified by dental records.

Review: 'Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey' Is An Inspirational Doc About The Man Behind The Muppet

  • By Cory Everett
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  • October 17, 2011 5:03 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Suddenly, it’s a good time to be a Muppet again. After a few decades of sub-par films, co-writers (and massive Muppet fans) Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller appear to be bringing some of the magic back with “The Muppets,” their attempt to revive creator Jim Henson's beloved characters for a new generation of kids. The Museum of the Moving Image in Queens has assembled a massive exhibit to the fuzzy creatures and their creator called “Jim Henson’s Fantastic World” which includes drawings, storyboards, props, and a puppet making workshop as well as screenings of the films. “Sesame Street” has been plugging along steadily on PBS since it’s debut in 1969 but some recent high profile guest stars like Katy Perry have really put the show back into the public consciousness. And now we have director Constance Marks and her feel-good documentary “Being Elmo: A Puppeteers Journey” about Kevin Clash, the man who brought Elmo to life.
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Review: 'Sing Your Song' A Fascinating Look At The Activist Life Of Harry Belafonte

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 17, 2011 4:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments
In the pop culture sphere, it's been a while since Harry Belafonte has made a mark musically or on the big screen. His last album came out more than two decades ago, 1988's Paradise in Gazankulu while his last film role was a small appearance in Emilio Estevez's "Bobby" a few years back. But don't think that at 84 years old, Belafonte is merely basking in the rewards of his undeniable entertainment legacy in his twilight years. A tireless activist, "Sing Your Song" is straightforward, and fascinating look at his career at the front of the civil rights movment, striving to end hunger in Ethiopia, looking to find ways to curb inner city violence all within his journey as a musician and actor. Though produced by his daughter Gina Belafonte, the film directed by Susanne Rostock is a balanced, honest look at the life of a man whose success only fueled his work for humanist causes even more.

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