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The Playlist

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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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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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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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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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?

Review: 'The FP' A Fun, Ambitious, Over-The-Top Comedy That Isn't Much More Than A Novelty

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • March 16, 2012 9:20 AM
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A film that feels cobbled together from a "Dance Dance Revolution" arcade machine, that graffiti-covered white room where Will Smith shot music videos during his 'Fresh Prince' days and the desperate need to create a new pop culture catchphrase, “The FP” is a singular pastiche of hip-hop nostalgia, smalltown escapism and dystopian absurdity. But the raw materials from which brothers Brandon and Jason Trost assemble their first feature are so specific that the end result may have trouble appealing to a wider audience, especially if viewers aren’t willing to embed their tongue so deeply in their cheek that they practically choke on it. A fun and ambitious if over-the-top and overlong comedy about a world where gangs work out their differences via dance fights to the death, “The FP” is one of the most unique films made in years, but that novelty value also often makes it more of an admirable effort than a truly enjoyable one.
More: The FP, Review

Review: 'The Hunger Games' Is Thoughtful, Thrilling Popular Entertainment That Genuinely Deserves To Be A Franchise

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • March 16, 2012 9:01 AM
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Complexity and understatement are two criminally under-utilized values in most mainstream movies these days, but they’re at the core of, and the chief reason for the success of “The Hunger Games.” Director Gary Ross, screenwriter of the proletariat presidential fantasy “Dave” and writer-director of the social-consciousness-as-sci-fi tome “Pleasantville,” has always engaged his subjects with a light and yet substantial touch, but his adaptation of Suzanne Collins’ acclaimed young-adult novel is a truly remarkable achievement: he turns escapism into a deeply emotional experience. Instantly razing comparisons – qualitative especially -- to other female-friendly series such as “Twilight,” “The Hunger Games” is the first film in a long time that deserves Hollywood’s instant-franchise ambitions because it appeals to genre fans regardless of gender by crafting a story that’s both epic and intimate, spectacular and subtle.

SXSW '12 Review: Richard Linklater's 'Bernie' Starring Jack Black Is A Harmless, But Charming & Funny Effort

  • By Edward Davis
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  • March 15, 2012 3:06 PM
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Employing a laid-back, jovial and amiable mien, Richard Linklater's latest effort, the East Texas-set black comedy "Bernie," is not unlike the Austin-based filmmaker himself: affable, eager to please without pandering, and highly likeable. In fact, "Bernie," starring Jack Black as an endearing mortician and well-loved member of his small-town community in Carthage, Texas, is so delightful, and rather wryly comical, it’s easy to be charmed with the picture despite its modest ambitions, small-scale aims and slight nature.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Sleepwalk With Me' Observes The Life Of A Comedian & Commitmentphobe

  • By William Goss
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  • March 15, 2012 11:57 AM
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Yes, everything that follows is true, our narrator assures us from the start after asking everyone to go ahead and turn off their cell phones. The validity of it all has been questioned before, and he simply wants to cut our skepticism off at the pass. However, since this is Mike Birbiglia playing a version of himself (named in the film as “Matt Pandamiglio”), replicating stories of his own life in a film based on his one-man show and identically titled book, "Sleepwalk With Me," there remains an inevitable degree of distance between seeing Matt go through the travails of becoming a stand-up comedian and a suitable boyfriend, and laughing at Mike’s actual experiences. Don’t worry: it’s a bit less through-the-looking-glass than it reads on paper.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Paul Williams: Still Alive' Is A Wonderfully Weird, Surprisingly Moving Tribute To A Forgotten Musical Icon

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 14, 2012 7:15 PM
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Paul Williams mean to you? Does it ring a bell? No? How about these songs: "Rainbow Connection," "Evergreen," "We've Only Just Begun," "Old Fashioned Love Song"? Williams is the legendary singer-songwriter behind those tunes, and a former '70s superstar and personality, who made appearances on just about every variety show, sitcom and talk show during that era of silly decadence. Maybe you know him from his cult classic movie "Phantom of the Paradise." With his diminutive stature, blond bowl cut and ever-present tinted aviators, he's not exactly the most glamorous '70s celeb, but he is one of the most distinctive and beloved by the fans who have managed to remember him through the years.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Shut Up And Play The Hits' Is LCD Soundsystem’s 'The Last Waltz'

  • By William Goss
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  • March 14, 2012 6:03 PM
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Less of a documentary and more of a document, "Shut Up And Play The Hits" captures the week before, the day after and the very occasion of LCD Soundsystem’s Madison Square Garden farewell concert on April 2, 2011.

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