The Playlist

MIFF '11 Reviews: 'The Forgiveness Of Blood,' 'Toomelah' & 'Majority'

  • By Simon Dang
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  • August 8, 2011 11:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
More, somewhat belated reviews from the Melbourne International Film Festival. Firstly, a return from director Joshua Marston who burst onto the scene with his 2004 drug-mule drama "Maria Full Of Grace" and went missing, other than a few television credits. A whole seven years later, Marston unveils "The Forgiveness Of Blood," a unique spin on a family drama genre which explores the phenomena of blood feuds in rural Albania. After an argument over a blocked path through one family's property leads to a violent confrontation the details of which audiences are kept in the dark about, a stalemate is set in place between the two families as per a 15th century legal code called the Kanun.
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Review: 'Superheroes' An Intriguing But Unquestioning Look At Real Life Crimefighters

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 8, 2011 10:38 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Superheroes have captured the collective imagination ever since Superman first lifted a car over his head in Action Comics #1. The idea of a person blessed with extraordinary powers, or a regular citizen who adopts an alter ego to protect humanity, and right the wrongs that the regular justice system fails to address, has resonated with the young and old for decades. And while over the years there have been somewhat random and scattered incidents of people trying to recreate the vigilante hero experience on the streets of their city, today there seems to be a greater movement afoot. Across the country some very organized individuals are suiting up and hitting the streets determined to make a difference with an activity that isn't just a lark, but one that almost doubles as a full time job. Armed, (mostly) masked and driven by sense of purpose and civic duty, these real life superheroes patrol the streets where the polices sometimes can't (or more likely, won't), and now they have their own documentary.
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Review: Shion Sono An Exciting New Discovery; 'Cold Fish' Bleak, Bloody, Bold

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • August 5, 2011 6:30 AM
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  • 9 Comments
The following is a reprint from of our review from VIFF last year.
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Review: '30 Minutes Or Less' Is A Fun But Forgettable Conclusion To The Summer Of R-Rated Excess

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 5, 2011 5:31 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Zipping along at a brisk pace -- albeit one that feels like it's rushing to be over -- featuring dueling bromance buddy tales from both protagonists and villains, and mostly amusing in its vulgar humor and gags, the "action"-comedy "30 Minutes Or Less," is entertaining, but ultimately only a mild effort in the mediocre R-Rated comedy sweepstakes that have dominated this season.

Review: 'Magic Trip' A Pleasant But Unremarkable Trip Down A Druggy Memory Lane

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • August 4, 2011 4:18 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Best known for his forward, concise, and unyielding documentaries attacking big business, the government, and the media, filmmaker Alex Gibney takes a brief sabbatical from the "heavy issues" and partners up with frequent editing partner Alison Ellwood for the Ken Kesey LSD-extravaganza "Magic Trip." The two cobble together footage and audio recordings from a free-wheelin' cross-country jaunt to the World's Fair in New York lead by the "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" scribe, the end result feeling something like a cross between Gibney's own "Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson" and last year's enjoyable "Lennon NYC." However, much like those examples, those who are uninterested in Kesey and his generation (or worse, can't even stomach it) won't find much to bark about.

Review: 'Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes' Monkeys Around, Showcases Action Over Nuance

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • August 4, 2011 2:19 AM
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  • 3 Comments
When blockbuster films deal with conflict that poses a global threat, the question hangs over them: why is humanity worth saving? It’s the drug-film conundrum: 95 minutes of injections and hard-living make a stronger impression than the therapy and lessons of the remaining 10. Why bother presenting a human population worthy of life, love and discovery when the audience and filmmakers can take more pleasure in annihilating them?

Fantasia '11 Review: 'Kidnapped' Starts Smart, But Ends As A Sleazy & Cheap Exploitation Flick

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 3, 2011 10:02 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The single setting thriller is a tough trick to overcome as a director, as it constrains nearly every aspect of a production making it all the more difficult to elevate the film from its static surroundings. Last year saw a spate of single-setting flicks hit theaters, and while Danny Boyle's "127 Hours" and J Blakeson's underrated "The Disappearance Of Alice Creed" showed what inventive filmmaking and a smart screenplay can do in opening up the narrative in compelling ways, the Ryan Reynolds-led "Buried" was an example of what happens with a director can't get past the basic conceit of the picture. Which brings us to "Kidnapped," the first film in eight years from director Miguel Ángel Vivas and one that came to Montreal riding some decent buzz including Best Horror and Director prizes at last year's Fantastic Fest. We don't get the hype.

Point Counter-Point Review: 'The Change-Up' Is Gross-Out Unfunny Or Messy But With Amusing Laughs

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • August 3, 2011 4:48 AM
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  • 3 Comments
“The Change-Up” is nothing if not honest. Before the title card has even popped up on screen, Jason Bateman, playing a stressed out husband, father, and (pivotally) lawyer, gets poop sprayed onto his face and, seconds later, into his mouth. It’s a very gross gag very early on and sets the stage for what might be, in the summer of raunchy comedies, the very raunchiest of them all. The problems arise, later on, though, when the truly outrageous stuff uneasily mingles with more earthbound relationship issues and the film winds up being a tepid mixture of both.

Review: 'Bellflower' A Burnt-Out, Bloody, Brave Debut

  • By Mark Zhuravsky
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  • August 2, 2011 5:06 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Fresh from a warm reception at Sundance, Evan Glodell’s “Bellflower” arrives as a turbo charged indictment of male adolescent fantasy and a biting critique of misplaced machismo. A burnt-out, bloody, brave debut, “Bellflower” rides out the fallout from a relationship to a stomach-churning conclusion…or does it? It’s a fine balancing act, as Glodell’s Woodrow charms the live wire Milly (Jessie Wiseman), loses her, and then rages – first impotently, then with the aid of a flamethrower and Medusa, a muscle car from hell.

Review: 'Perfect Age' A Loving Tribute To The Spirit of Rock ‘N’ Roll

  • By Mark Zhuravsky
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  • August 2, 2011 2:59 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Rock ‘n’ roll dramas don’t have it easy – they are permanently walking a tightrope above a long-way-down precipice. Make it all the way across, and you have "Almost Famous," slip and its 2001’s "Rockstar." Scott Rosenbaum’s "The Perfect Age Of Rock ‘N’ Roll" may occasionally stumble into lead-footed plotting, but the cast and an unexpectedly poignant conclusion rescue the film from drifting into obscurity.
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