The Playlist

TIFF '11 Review: Woody Harrelson Stands Tall Amidst Crumbling LAPD In Riveting 'Rampart'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 11, 2011 7:33 AM
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  • 2 Comments
"Everything you learned at the Academy is bullshit." That's the sage bit of wisdom Date Rape Dave (Woody Harrelson, and we'll get to his cop moniker in a moment) gives a new trainee in the opening frames of Oren Moverman's "Rampart," a searing and riveting look at a crooked cop's decay amidst the crumbling LAPD at the turn of the millennium.

TIFF '11 Review: Guy Maddin's 'Keyhole' Beautiful And Brassy...But Frustratingly Sealed

  • By James Rocchi
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  • September 11, 2011 1:57 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Let us pause, then, to contemplate the fate and fortunes of the director who does not have his or her eye set on the five-picture deal, the glossy franchise, the production wing in the bungalow offices of some major studio; what becomes of the director who only wants to make art and make it well? Canada's Guy Maddin clearly has no eye on commercial success -- rumor has it that his next feature might actually be in color -- and instead prefers to stand at the edge and peer into the abyss to look for what's next. This is a unique vantage point, to be sure, but it's also perilous if one should fall; "Keyhole" is both too much and too little, a crowded smorgasbord of genre picture tropes and haunted house tricks that leaves your eyes and brain distended with both far too much to absorb and far too little to sustain.

TIFF '11 Review: Cross-Dressing 'Albert Nobbs' A Stodgily Straight Drama

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 10, 2011 5:07 AM
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  • 1 Comment
For Glenn Close, "Albert Nobbs" has been a long time coming for its big screen incarnation. Based on a short story by Irish author George Moore, it was first adapted into an off-Broadway production by Simone Benmussa with Close in the lead role that won her an Obie award. The actress has been a driving force behind the film adaptation, shepherding the project for 15 years, taking on the responsibilities of a producer and even co-writing the script with Man Booker prize-winning author John Banville and Gabriella Prekop. So yes, it's passion project for Close and it's unfortunate that none of that enthusiasm manages to find its way to the big screen. Stodgy, stuffy and somewhat inconsequential, "Albert Nobbs" gets all dressed up but has nowhere to go.

TIFF '11 Review: Manipulative & Melodramatic 'A Separation' Is A Soap Opera Morality Tale

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 9, 2011 12:40 PM
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  • 12 Comments
The fall festival circuit is all about buzz, and while the frontrunners for the awards season can usually be spotted a mile away, it's the sleeper sensations everyone keeps an eye out for now. As Telluride wrapped up this weekend, the Iranian film "A Separation" directed by Asghar Farhadi, began building some serious heat. Thought it has been playing international festivals all summer long and won multiple awards in Berlin earlier this year including the Golden Bear, the very strong word out of Colorado, led by a rave by Jeff Wells over at Hollywood Elsewhere -- who admitted to missing the first third of the picture -- put the movie on the schedule for many of the folks headed to Toronto. Believe it or not, the film (as of this date anyway) has even edged into the IMDB Top 250. And now that we've caught up with it we have to ask: did we see a completely different movie?

TIFF '11 Review: 'From The Sky Down' A Disappointingly Incomplete Look At U2's "Achtung Baby"

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 9, 2011 8:55 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Whether you are a U2 fan or not, there is no denying their 1991 album Achtung Baby launched the band into the stratosphere of super-stardom and is simply one of the defining records of the '90s. With over 5.5 million albums sold in the U.S. alone, two Grammys for Best Rock Performance and Producer of the Year (for Daniel Lanois), the record not only found the group adjusting to the changing musical landscape of the late '80s and early '90s, it redefined their image and put them at the forefront of a select bunch of groundbreaking and hugely popular bands. 2011 will mark 20 years since the album first hit shelves on November 19, 1991, and U2 are celebrating in style. This summer they made their first festival appearance at Glastonbury, kicking off their set with a slew of songs from Achtung Baby and a massive reissue of the album is set to be released in October. And to cap it all off, the band has teamed with Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth," "It Might Get Loud") to create "From the Sky Down," a look back at the making of the album. It's an exciting prospect, but unfortunately, it leaves you wanting much, much more.

Review: 'Tanner Hall' Is An Amateur-Hour Panoply Of Boarding School Girl Cliches

  • By The Playlist
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  • September 9, 2011 3:30 AM
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  • 4 Comments
While featuring a promising cast of on-the-rise newcomers and comedy veterans, a strong production design, plus a visual aesthetic that proves digital cinematography can be warm and capture light in a pleasing autumnal manner, the one-dimensional indie flick "Tanner Hall," has almost nothing else to redeem it.

TIFF '11 Review: The Ralph Fiennes-Directed 'Coriolanus' Is As Well-Acted As It Is Challenging

  • By James Rocchi
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  • September 8, 2011 12:15 PM
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  • 6 Comments
From what little we know of Shakespeare's life, "Coriolanus" was one of his later tragedies; compared to his other works in the same vein, it's one of his more complex ones, as well. It doesn't offer us a father betrayed, like" King Lear," or a good man undone by his own wants, like "Macbeth"; instead, it gives us a Roman general who, in his hunger for war, devours his life -- family, country, honor -- when the world will not let him be a warrior and, instead, insists he be a war hero. Thrust into politics, Coriolanus is a general, then a politician, and then despised by the people who called for his elevation -- leading him to ally with his hated Vosican enemy Tullus Aufidus to attack his own homeland in a fit of rage.

TIFF '11 Review: Numbers Don't Lie In 'Moneyball' That Swings For The Fences & Hits A Triple

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 8, 2011 11:45 AM
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  • 4 Comments
America's greatest pastime hasn't been in great shape lately. Plagued by drug scandals and general disenchantment with the sport that pays astronomical prices for out-of-shape guys to hit a ball four hundred feet or so, it seems the magic of the ol' ballgame seems to have dissipated. This writer once religiously followed the sport, could rattle off batting lineups, bullpen rosters and second string second basemen at a moment's notice. But of late, we haven't had much reason to pay attention other than casually stopping in on games while flipping through channels. And while "Moneyball" won't get us picking up the daily sports section again, Bennett Miller's enjoyable and rousing film is a tribute to that the game's journeymen. The guys who aren't mega-watt stars, but who hustle day in and day out for years, all for the love of the game.

Venice '11 Review: 'The Last Man On Earth' A Promising But Flawed Sci-Fi Tinged Italian Debut

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 8, 2011 4:35 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It might seem, particularly after a summer at the multiplexes like the one that we've just had, that American culture is driven entirely by the comic book. But that's not quite true; superhero movies might be all the rage, but comic books themselves remain a relatively niche passion -- this July, only "The Amazing Spider-Man" sold more than 100,000 copies, and it remains tainted by associations of geekdom, generally confined to comics shops. In Europe, in particular France and Italy, things are different; it's almost impossible to walk into a paper stall or tabac without seeing a book like Blueberry, Largo Winch, Danger: Diabolik or Dylan Dog, and they're bought by readers from kids to the elderly.

Venice '11 Review: 'Killer Joe' A Terrific Texan Tale With A Revelatory Matthew McConaughey Turn

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 8, 2011 2:06 AM
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  • 4 Comments
In recent years, film translations of stage hits haven't been as prevalent as they once were. You might get the occasional "Doubt" or "Rabbit Hole," for instance, but compared to the early days of the talkies, when a large proportion of movies were based on Broadway hits, it's been slim pickings; audiences and critics have learned that most attempts at stage-to-screen translation fail to make the material truly cinematic.

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