The Playlist

Review: 'Footloose' Is An Expressive Old School Ode To Youthful Abandon

  • By Gabe Toro
  • |
  • October 12, 2011 2:07 AM
  • |
  • 9 Comments
Once upon a time, there was an outsider who came to a small town of limited imagination. He looked upon the town’s ignorant forces of authority and challenged them, fighting for the oppressed and changing the social order. It’s a story that’s been told countless times in various forms of media, to the point where we take these archetypes pretty seriously. “Footloose” is the latest picture to utilize this familiar framework, and a novice might smirk at the main concept’s compelling hook: a town that has outlawed dance.

VIFF '11: Johnnie To's 'Life Without Principle' An Uneven, All Too Familiar Financial Crisis Drama

  • By Erik McClanahan
  • |
  • October 11, 2011 2:16 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
While movies are primarily considered a form of entertainment, they do have the ability to inform, especially to a mass audience. But that’s a slippery slope. All too easily, the audience can be taken right out of the story if things get too didactic. We at the secret Playlist headquarters (which is, naturally, surrounded by a piranha-filled moat where we toss in haters of the movie “Drive”) tend to like our cinema focused more on organic storytelling, not issue-driven diatribes.

NYFF ‘11 Review: A Slight & Superficial 'My Week With Marilyn' Often Resembles A Lifetime Movie

  • By The Playlist
  • |
  • October 9, 2011 8:01 AM
  • |
  • 7 Comments
Marked by an admirable, but certainly not spectacular performance by Michelle Williams -- in a role she's arguably not very suited for -- some wonderful costuming, set design and locations, and a stand-out supporting turn by Judi Dench, there aren't many other favorable things to say about "My Week With Marilyn," a slight drama with a reputable cast, that still feels through and through like a superficial Lifetime made for TV-movie.

NYFF ’11 Review: ‘Pina’ Is A Gorgeously Photographed, Three-Dimensional Sleeping Pill

  • By Drew Taylor
  • |
  • October 9, 2011 5:30 AM
  • |
  • 5 Comments
It’s strange to be truly startled and taken aback by the powerful effects of properly utilized 3D not in some Hollywood blockbuster where half of a major Midwestern American city is blown to smithereens by giant transforming robots, but during a quiet, understated, impressionistic documentary/tribute to influential German choreographer and dancer Pina Bausch (directed by Wim Wenders, no less). In fact, this might be the most amazingly you-are-there use of the technology since James Cameron landed us on Pandora. It’s just that, along with the fantastical visas and bounding, leaping, protruding dancers, you wish that the movie were more than just pretty. Sadly, it’s not. And boring is boring, even while wearing silly plastic specs.

NYFF '11 Review: Bela Tarr's Swan Song 'The Turin Horse' Is Despairing But Unforgettable

  • By Christopher Bell
  • |
  • October 9, 2011 3:00 AM
  • |
  • 2 Comments
If the name Béla Tarr rings any sort of bell in your head, chances are you've already formed an unwavering opinion of his work. He hasn't exactly shaken up his approach since 1988's "Damnation" (that said, this writer -- probably like most -- isn't familiar with his crop of '90s short films), and if despairing (yet deeply moving) minimalist films composed of stark black-and-white single takes doesn't tickle your fancy, this film won't change your mind.

VIFF '11: Thai Existentialist Hitman Film 'Headshot' Proves The Genre Still Has A Pulse

  • By Erik McClanahan
  • |
  • October 8, 2011 3:00 AM
  • |
  • 4 Comments
The hitman genre has been done to death. If cinema can be a reflection of the times we live in, and a recorded piece of history of what the filmmakers are concerned with at the time of inception and production, then it’s amazing any of us are still alive. When done well, the genre can be a lot of fun – as well as dramatic, escapist, cool and artful – but there’s just too many professional killers running amok in the movies.

NYFF '11 Review: 'Sleeping Sickness' A Morality Tale That Doesn't Fulfill Its Promise

  • By Christopher Bell
  • |
  • October 8, 2011 2:10 AM
  • |
  • 1 Comment
Poor Ulrich Köhler. His first feature "Bungalow" was a quiet, very reserved tale about a young soldier going AWOL. Instead of finishing his service, he gives into lethargy, laying around and doing nothing while hoping the military doesn't catch up with him. Once he's introduced to his brother's sweetheart, he finally finds his purpose: get in her pants at all costs. No, it wasn't terribly ambitious, but it was a relatively solid debut and was interesting enough to make those who actually saw it keep an eye on the new German filmmaker. Four years passed and finally his sophomore picture "Windows On Monday" was unleashed with a whimper. This film -- about a wife rejecting her routine middle-class life and responsibilities -- saw the director slightly refining his style, but also failing to make a truly deep impression in its festival run. Neither of these films were bad (in fact, this writer quite liked 'Windows'), but their meandering nature and unattractive simplicity didn't do them any favors when pitted against things like "The Free Will" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" at Berlinale. The ante had to be upped. Sensing this, Köhler uprooted and went to Africa for his latest endeavor. Would a fresh landscape invigorate his sauntering aesthetic? Now that his German brethren are stirring conversation and acclaim with their "Dreileben" trilogy series, it's an even greater chance to finally catch the attention of festival goers. Unfortunately, "Sleeping Sickness" is a lot like his previous films, much to its own detriment.

NYFF '11 Review: 'Once Upon A Time In Anatolia' A Masterful, Slow-Burn Epic

  • By Christopher Bell
  • |
  • October 8, 2011 1:05 AM
  • |
  • 0 Comments
Minimalist art filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan spent a long time crafting very personal and breathtakingly photographed tales. His work has never been big on plot, nor have they ever been anything other than glacially paced. Indeed, his general aesthetic isn't very welcoming to the impatient, though those willing to give their attention are always struck by something special. His black and white debut "The Town" is a real toughie, containing less of a story and more of a collection of moments -- but without the presence of a narrative, Ceylan is free to discover and exhibit universal beauty that isn't dependent on deep characters or drama. A "scene" in a classroom becomes magical when a feather floats into the room, with a few children continually blowing it to stay in the air. Let the tales be told elsewhere, because without being too pretentious, this was life he was capturing in its most undiluted form.

VIFF '11 Review: 'I Wish' The Rare Example Of A Great Kids Film That Actually Understands Kids

  • By Erik McClanahan
  • |
  • October 7, 2011 6:02 AM
  • |
  • 3 Comments
The frustrating thing about most modern "kids films" is that many filmmakers seem like lost balls in tall grass when it comes to portraying what makes children tick. Perhaps it's tougher than we imagine to capture the youth/kid experience, but is it just us or does it seem like nearly all child characters in movies exist in some bizarro world where they're smarter than the all the adults, know just the right thing to say at every moment and hardly ever act like, you know, kids? (See every American indie and Hollywood rom-com from the last 10 years for examples of this annoying, ridiculous trend). That's why, when a thoughtful, intelligent director takes the reins of such a film, one that actually remembers and respects what it was like to be a kid, the result can be so refreshing. In the best examples of the genre from recent memory -- "Where the Wild Things Are" and "Super 8" (which, this writer only found to be half a great movie, the great half being the portion involving kids being kids, making movies; it's impossible to deny the skill of those actors and their characterizations) -- the filmmakers decided from the outset to make a proper film first and foremost. The fact that the story is played out with children as our main characters is almost a moot point. Almost.

Review: 'Dirty Girl' With Juno Temple Is All Attitude & No Heart

  • By Drew Taylor
  • |
  • October 7, 2011 3:07 AM
  • |
  • 2 Comments
If there's one thing "Dirty Girl" has going for it -- and it's made abundantly clear even before the glittery title card, spelled out in swoopy, neon-lit letters like the name of a roller disco -- it's that it has attitude. The titular dirty girl is an Oklahoma teen named Danielle (Juno Temple) who acts out in class and sleeps around. She has an infectiously "fuck you" approach to just about everything, from her classmates, agog at her sexual promiscuity, to her soon-to-be stepdad (William H. Macy), to her teachers, who bump her down to a remedial class where the most pressing assignment is taking care of a bag of flour like it's an actual human baby.

Email Updates

Recent Comments