The Playlist

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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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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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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Review: '5 Days Of War' Is A Tribute To Georgia Both Bombastic And Political

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 16, 2011 11:03 AM
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  • 9 Comments
In 2008, the world turned its back as Russia declared war on the neighboring region of Georgia. For five days, the vastly superior Russian forces descended on destitute Georgian villages, separating families, causing massive property damage and driving a fractured country into further disrepair, of which the area has yet to recover. For all intents and purposes, Renny Harlin’s “5 Days Of War” should not exist. And yet it does, not only as a war picture that emphasizes the ugliness of this conflict, but as a document of a dark moment in world politics, when women and children were under the gun in front of the world's closed eyes.

Empire Big Screen '11 Review: By Crom, 'Conan The Barbarian' Is Unbelievably Awful

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • August 16, 2011 10:00 AM
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  • 22 Comments
For a good quarter of a century, since Arnie hung up his loincloth in 1984's "Conan The Destroyer," people have been trying to bring Robert E. Howard's pulp sword-and-sorcery hero back to the big screen, most notably in John Milius' unmade "King Conan," while The Wachowskis, Robert Rodriguez and Brett Ratner have also made various attempts at the material. Finally, he's returned for some rapin' and pillagin', thanks to Lionsgate and "Friday the 13th" director Marcus Nispel, with "Game of Thrones" star Jason Momoa as the Cimmerian. We caught the film's European premiere at Empire Big Screen tonight: was it worth the wait?

Book Review: 'Straw Dogs' Retains The Controversy & Thematic Pull Without The Sleaze

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 15, 2011 4:46 AM
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  • 2 Comments
It has been 40 years since Sam Peckinpah released "Straw Dogs," and four decades on, the film still remains a powerful and sometimes hard to watch piece of work. Starring Dustin Hoffman and Susan George, the film centers on David (Hoffman), a American mathematician who moves with his new bride Amy (George) to her hometown of Wakely, Cornwall in England. Some locals are hired on to do some repairs on David and Amy's farmhouse and they immediately take a disliking to the brainy David, and in an act of intimidation, they strangle their cat, leaving it hanging from a light inside the home. Things are then taken up a notch when David, lured into a distant area in the woods on a hunting trip with those same workmen in an effort to bond with him, his wife is raped by their ringleader, Amy's former lover Charlie Venner, and then again, by another man. The temperature is raised even more when David accidentally hits Niles the village idiot -- and pedophile who unbeknownst to him has just killed a local girl -- with his car driving home late one night in the fog, takes him home and reports the accident. Finding out that David has Niles, a crew of local men come to his house looking for the body pitching David in a final fight to save his home in a battle that will restore his crumbling masculinity in wake of the rape of his wife of the taunts of the workers at his home.
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Review: 'Gloria: In Her Own Words' A Cliffs Notes Portrait Of The Feminist Icon

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 15, 2011 2:57 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There is perhaps no other woman who is more easily identified to the burgeoning feminist movement of the late '60s and '70s than Gloria Steinem. Vocal, intelligent and yes, very beautiful (even now at 77 she looks remarkable), Steinem galvanized women across the country, and over the years, has tackled topics both taboo and controversial ranging from abortion to female genital mutilation, while becoming a public figure for feminism like no one else has since. But in turn, she has also become a figure of criticism and ridicule from those both inside and outside feminist circles for a variety of reason. And thus, it's a shame that the life of such a powerful, passionate, divisive and fascinating woman is given such a perfunctory portrait with the documentary "Gloria: In Her Own Words."
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Review: Romance On The Fringe, A Community Stuck In Time In 'Bad Posture'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 14, 2011 1:27 AM
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  • 0 Comments
For most movies, living on the fringe of society means a certain level of judgment is passed on the characters. Sometimes it's implicit in the condescending filmmaking techniques, with attempts made at clarifying our protagonists as "The Other," a socio-economic problem compounded by these characters often being minorities. At other times it's more overt, the picture trying to make you root for the underdog by creating a superficial caricature to engender sympathetic audience emotions, regardless of the context. Which is why it's refreshing to see an indie like "Bad Posture" crop up, a picture that remains laser-sharp in its focus as it refuses to categorize its wayward protagonists.
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MIFF '11 Reviews: 'The Day He Arrives,' 'Sleeping Sickness' & 'HERE'

  • By Simon Dang
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  • August 13, 2011 1:06 AM
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  • 2 Comments
More reviews from the recent Melbourne International Film Festival.

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