The Playlist

Review: 'Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure' A Hilarious Exploration Of A Viral Sensation

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • August 23, 2011 8:57 AM
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  • 4 Comments
If you don't think two belligerent, elderly men cursing out each other abrasively is hilarious, then "Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure" will leave you bored. Matthew Bate's movie on the audio-vérité craze that was "Shut Up Lil' Man" is such a celebratory love-letter that anybody who doesn't find the audio clips even remotely fascinating will get little out of the documentary's 90 minute running time. This writer, however, loves the furiously relentless barrage of insults that the pre-YouTube cult-celebrities Raymond Huffman and Peter Haskett would drunkenly hurl at each other daily. While the tapings of the two men fighting alone make an engrossing experience, the filmmaker instead finds the guys responsible for discovering Ray and Peter and delves into the history surrounding the craze, while also dissecting the moral ambiguities associated with these precious tapes.

Review: 'Swinging With The Finkels' A Conservative Sex Comedy With Less Laughs Than That Implies

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 23, 2011 6:10 AM
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  • 1 Comment
There’s no way around this, there’s no kind way to preface this, there’s no purpose to side-step it: “Swinging With The Finkels” is one of the worst, cheapest, dumbest and most dishonest films of the year. The film has the same tin-ear for its material that student films usually sport, often when they’re about retirement, hitmen, or a litany of subjects young people tackle despite clearly having no experience in the field. 'Swinging,' in theory, would be a film oblivious to the matters of sex and intimacy, but, in fact, it’s merely alien to any and all human behavior. The only 2011 film with this level of understanding regarding our basic humanity was Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch,” but at least that picture has the fallback of a heightened science fiction story.

Review: 'Our Idiot Brother' A Breezy, But Uneven Attempt To Replicate The Judd Apatow Touch

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 23, 2011 2:53 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Judd Apatow's smash hits of "The 40 Year Old Virgin" and "Knocked Up" (not to mention the countless other successful comedies stamped with his producer tag) have spawned a good handful of imitators but few ever get the formula right. What Apatow does so well -- evidenced as far back as "Freaks & Geeks" and "Undeclared" -- is effortlessly find true character moments in the midst of even the raunchiest gags. For example, in "The 40 Year Old Virgin" when Andy returns home after his "bag of sand" gaffe and walks around his house yelling in frustration, it's both hilarious and true -- we've all had those moments where we've said or done something completely mortifying that we can't change. And Apatow excels at building his stories in a way that makes the usually large ensemble of players feel effortlessly real, with their choices and reactions organically born from situations that arise. That influence is clearly stamped on Jesse Peretz's "Our Idiot Brother" a film that takes an Apatow regular in Paul Rudd, surrounds him with a great ensemble, and strives admirably but unevenly to replicate the comedic and dramatic tones Apatow does so well.

Review: 'Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark' Is Light On Scares & A Minor Effort From Producer Del Toro

  • By Cory Everett
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  • August 22, 2011 10:59 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Originally written back in 1998 for Miramax, “Don’t Be Afraid Of The Dark” has had quite a long road to the big screen. Scribes Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins (“Mimic,” “Dragonslayer”) adapted the film from a 1973 made-for-TV movie as a vehicle for del Toro to direct but the project was shelved after numerous rewrites failed to satisfy the studio. Del Toro moved on to direct “Mimic” for Miramax instead which ended up being a disastrous clash of egos between the filmmaker and Bob Weinstein. The producer demanded so many changes that del Toro eventually disowned the film.

Review: 'Higher Ground' Revels In Its Callow, Low Blows To Catholicism

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • August 22, 2011 9:59 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Everyone's got something to say about religion. Each book that serves as the foundation for a theology forges our behavior in some shape or form, and while structuring your life on what each book preaches can lead to catharsis, kindness, and healing, it can also be the birth of intolerance and destruction. That's not to say people aren't ultimately to blame; though certain things are good or bad no matter how you spin them, we do tend to interpret things how we see fit. This odd mixed bag of morals often leads to serious backlash, manifested in outright intense debates or scathing art pieces. "Up In The Air" actress Vera Farmiga sets her target using the latter weapon, questioning her own faith in directorial debut "Higher Ground." Sadly, the film feels more like the voice of a junior high student going through a phase of atheism rather than the thoughts of a mature, rational adult.

Review: 'A Horrible Way To Die' And Not Much Of A Way To Live

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 19, 2011 2:17 AM
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  • 0 Comments
“A Horrible Way To Die” tells two parallel stories. One of them is rooted in the fear of the mundane, following Sarah (Amy Seimetz), a recovering alcoholic trying to put her life back together. Her alcoholic past can directly be attributed to an abusive relationship, one that had borderline stripped her of her identity. She may have a job, a car, and a house, but Sarah is a ghost, invisible to those around her, floating through life without vice, but also without virtue. And why would there be either? Director Adam Wingard takes a vampiric attention to detail, featuring a world of almost constant nighttime or downshifted cloudiness. The walls of her home are drenched in shadow, her AA meetings are in barren basements. The outdoor world seems to exist only to provide empty parking lots. You’d be forgiven for expecting a twist that reveals she’s been dead this whole time.
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Review: 'The Last Circus' Is A Three-Ring Extravaganza Of Excess

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 17, 2011 10:33 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The prologue for Alex de la Iglesia's new film, "The Last Circus," which premiered at last year's Venice Film Festival but is just now making its debut on American shores, is a kicky, grindhouse shock about a traveling circus interrupted by rebels who recruit the performers to participate in the burgeoning Spanish Civil War. The show's lead clown (Santiago Segura) is handed a machete and forced to stay in his whimsical, gender-bending costume, since the rebel leader says it will scare the shit out of the enemy. And, for whole minutes, we watch as the clown grittily slices and dices members of Franco's fascist army. After the "happy clown" has been captured and interred in a mine, we see him have a conversation with his young son. His father tells him to keep up the clown tradition of his family, but instead of a happy clown, he'll be a sad clown. Then, in a tragic/comic moment, his father gets trampled to death by a horse and the son ends up maiming a colonel.
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Jim Sturgess Says The Book Was All He Needed To Get Prepared For 'One Day'

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • August 17, 2011 9:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments
In “One Day,” Jim Sturgess’ Dexter is kind of an asshole, though certainly the kind of asshole that some women are irresistibly and illogically drawn to. He says and does things to Anne Hathaway’s Emma that would make him irredeemable if played by a less charming actor, but because it’s Sturgess who’s doing the heartbreaking, we’re content to watch--and would likely volunteer to be the victim as well. Based on David Nicholls’ book (and the author’s screenplay), the Lone Scherfig film follows the pair dipping into each others' lives for one day a year across three decades. They perform a dance where they’re alternately joining together and pushing each other away as their lives and selves change from their twenties through their forties.

Review: 'One Day' Essentially An Overwrought Nicholas Sparks Movie With Dodgy English Accents

  • By The Playlist
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  • August 17, 2011 2:05 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Treacly, oftentimes predictable, lacking real chemistry and sporting a narrative conceit that never really serves the movie well, if you thought the only thing missing from movies based on Nicholas Sparks novels was questionably convincing English accents, “One Day” may be the movie for you. While there’s something to be said for any film that takes relationships between young adults even semi-seriously, Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess discover plenty of melodrama in their characters’ two-decade, on-off romance, but they unfortunately fail to fill out the other 364 days of those years with much depth.

Review: 'Amigo' An Observational, Powerful Film Linking America's Political Past & Present

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 16, 2011 11:58 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The following is a reprint of our review from TIFF in 2010.
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