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The Playlist

Review: 'We Have A Pope' An Unlikely Dramedy About Finding Faith, But Losing Yourself

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 3, 2012 11:58 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Early word on Nanni Moretti's "We Have A Pope" was that it was more or less in the vein of "The King's Speech." Well, perhaps in broad strokes, but unlike Tom Hooper's wildly overrated Oscar-winner, Moretti finds more depth, complex emotion and goes for a much braver, uneasy ending for his film. "We Have A Pope" is less about a newly elected Pope overcoming his fears to serve the church, but more about the expectations we put on these figures and in its own quiet way, it questions -- without condemning -- the Vatican's staunch rules that keep much of the higher cardinals and officials out of reach from the everyday world.

ND/NF '12 Review: 'Now, Forager' Is Strictly For Hardcore Food Snobs

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 3, 2012 8:56 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Two pairs of boots crush the leaves underneath, making their way through the forest. The pair of sufficiently-dressed foragers look behind trees, over hills, combing the landscape for a major score. Underneath a tree, it is found: scores and scores of massive mushrooms, all of a specific, hard-to-find variety. In these, some would see deliciousness, and some would find money. Lucien and Regina, the two leads of “Now, Forager,” see the continuing of their way of life.

ND/NF '12 Review: Mads Brugger Cheats Death In Provocative Doc 'The Ambassador'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 2, 2012 12:05 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Mads Brugger is a man with a death wish. The Danish journalist turned filmmaker will turn a lot of heads with “The Ambassador,” which recently debuted at the New Directors/New Films program in New York City. The film is ostensibly a documentary about the corruption between Central African despots and the foreign consulates that humor them, through the exchange of money, goods, and most importantly, conflict diamonds. Given such a volatile subject, Brugger could have kept his distance, investigating from afar, but he knew that wouldn’t get him the answers he craved. And so he put on an ice cream suit, picked up smoking, and became the mysterious Mister Cortzen.

Review: 'Scenes Of A Crime' Is A Riveting True-Crime Documentary Worthy Of Errol Morris

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • March 31, 2012 6:16 PM
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  • 1 Comment
We often forget that film can help elicit change -- maybe it's our general apathy or maybe we've been conditioned to turn away at whatever new "issues" doc is at our door, that often speak directly to the choir. But let's not forget "Super Size Me" helped kick the fast food chain's extra large size to the curb, "Bowling For Columbine" got KMart to stop selling bullets, and most unforgettably, master filmmaker Errol Morris' "The Thin Blue Line" set a wrongly convicted man free. Grover Babcock and Blue Hadaegh's "Scenes Of A Crime" shares much of the latter film's DNA, focusing on a questionable murder confession by an unemployed upstate New Yorker.

Review: 'Turn Me On, Dammit!' A Fun Yet Uneven Look At A Sex-Crazed Female

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • March 30, 2012 5:25 PM
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  • 5 Comments
With all of the stories, movies, and television episodes dedicated to the horny teenage male, it's a bit of an understatement to say that the topic is well-covered. Regrettably, there's still a nasty double-standard in regards to the population of sexual-minded females -- their desires aren't looked at with the same respect that males get in those various forms of media, and that’s if they’re even represented at all. Better late than never, "Turn Me On, Dammit!" attempts to fill that void by not only having its main protagonist seemingly fueled by coitus, but by also targeting society's uneven treatment of sexual matters between boys and girls.

Review: 'Artificial Paradises' A Wonderful Minimalist Experience

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • March 30, 2012 3:59 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Set in the breathtaking beach environment of Veracruz (Mexico) at a near dilapidated resort-of-sorts, "Artificial Paradises" is a terrific minmimalist experience centering on the unlikely relationship between middle-aged grounds worker Salomón (Salomón Hernández) and young heroin abuser Luisa (Luisa Pardo). Similar to the oeuvre of Apichatpong Weerasethakul and even Andrei Tarkovsky in its sensibilities, Yulene Olaizola's first narrative film shuns plot and conventions in favor of the small moments that make up life.

Review: 'Goon' Is A Middling Sports Comedy Elevated By A Surprising Turn By Seann William Scott

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 30, 2012 2:55 PM
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  • 4 Comments
It feels odd that "Goon," a brutal comedy based around the sport, from the pen of hockey-loving Apatow grads Jay Baruchel (star of "Undeclared" and "Knocked Up") and Evan Goldberg (co-writer, with Seth Rogen, of "Superbad" and "Pineapple Express"), would go on wide release in Britain this weekend, weeks before it hits theaters in North America. But nevertheless, go on wide release it has, and The Playlist was there to check it out.

Review: HBO's Fantasy Epic 'Game Of Thrones' Returns For A Satisfying Sophomore Season

  • By Cory Everett
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  • March 30, 2012 10:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Ever since HBO changed the landscape of television dramas back in the late 90s, a dozen other networks have stepped up to try to follow in their footsteps with their own challenging, original programming. So how does the pay cable network stay ahead of the pack? By taking risks that no other network can afford to take (literally). Many of the recent dramas in their stable have come from showrunners who have shepherded previous hits -- “Luck” from “Deadwood” creator David Milch; “True Blood” from “Six Feet Under” creator Alan Ball; “Boardwalk Empire” from “The Sopranos” vet Terrence Winter; “Treme” from “The Wire” creator David Simon -- but their medieval epic “Game of Thrones” is a beast all its own. Adapted from George R. R. Martin’s popular fantasy series “A Song of Ice And Fire” by novelist D.B. Weiss and writer/screenwriter David Benioff (“25th Hour,” “Troy”), the series aims to break up each massive 800+ page book into a 10 episode season. Though sci-fi, action and even horror have made their way to the small screen, fantasy has rarely been attempted and putting the series in the hands of two writers who had no television experience was, putting it lightly, a risky move.

Review: 'The Island President' Is An Amazing Look At How Small Islands Could Affect Big Change

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 29, 2012 5:30 PM
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  • 1 Comment
In the beautiful, meditative new documentary "The Island President," we're introduced to Mohamed Nasheed, the democratically elected president of a chain of 2,000 islands in the Indian Ocean known as The Maldives. After three decades of tyrannical rule, the islands gained democratic independence, nominated Nasheed, and found their calling in the world – to expose the catastrophe of global warming by example. The Maldives, Nasheed explains, are slowly disappearing into the ocean. It's a truth loaded with symbolic and literal weight – in the face of global warming, the entire culture of the Maldives could be lost forever, here one day, gone the next.

Review: While Gaudy & Gorgeous, The Almost G-Rated 'Mirror Mirror' Is A Forgettable Lark

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 29, 2012 2:12 PM
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  • 2 Comments
“Mirror Mirror” is like the big budget Broadway show that you’re forced to see when your parents are in town. The costumes are exquisite, the staging quite grand, the performances typically arch, and while it flits by you it’s easy to be entertained and occasionally tickled (even if you wince more than once during its intermission-free running time because of its sweetness and attempts at relevant hipness). But once it’s over, and the house lights have gone up, and your parents have returned to Wahoo, Nebraska, you’ll never, ever think of it again. For a movie based in the primordial world of fairy tales, “Mirror Mirror” is remarkably forgettable.

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