The Playlist

Fantasia '11 Review: 'Bangkok Knockout' Delivers Awesome Action In An Otherwise Incompetent Film

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 2, 2011 1:57 AM
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  • 1 Comment
In many ways "Bangkok Knockout" is the perfect film for Fantasia (or any other similarly themed genre fest), but let's be clear: the latest from "Ong Bak 2" and "Ong Bak 3" director Panna Rittikrai is terrible in almost every conceivable technical, narrative and aesthetic category. It's atrociously acted, with a derivative, absurd story shot with no real skill except in making sure that when two characters are speaking to each other, they are both in the frame. However, when it's time for the fights -- which are frequent, exciting and amazingly staged, Rittikrai is firmly in his element and the audience is in his hand. "Bangkok Knockout" is precisely the kind of film that needs to be watched with a vocal, appreciative Fantasia crowd cheering along with every astounding punch, flip and kick, if only to share the joy of the sequences and have somebody to ride out the tedium of everything else in between.

Review: ‘The Whistleblower’ Plays More Like A Whisper

  • By Catherine Scott
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  • August 1, 2011 11:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The following is a reprint of our review from IFFBoston.

MIFF '11 Reviews: 'A Separation,' 'Norwegian Wood' & 'Knuckle'

  • By Simon Dang
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  • August 1, 2011 10:28 AM
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  • 2 Comments
It's that time of year once again: the Melbourne International Film Festival has hit town and, as ever, we're right amongst it. For a change, we'll endeavour to focus on films not extensively covered on the site before, possibly with a general recap later on. One of the early highlights of the festival (which runs between July 21st and August 7th) so far has been Asghar Farhadi's "Nader & Simin, A Separation," which took home the Golden Bear at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

Fantasia '11 Review: 'Blackthorn' Catches Up With A Retirement Ready Butch Cassidy

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • August 1, 2011 4:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
For the most part -- aside from a few forgettable/unknown titles -- no one has really taken on the legend of Butch Cassidy since Robert Redford and Paul Newman went out guns blazing in George Roy Hill's 1969 instant classic. Though "Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid" lives on as a cinematic touchstone and cultural reference point, the legend has largely been kept off the big screens as the boots of Redford and Newman are large to fill indeed. So you have admire the stones of writer Miguel Barros, director Mateo Gil and actor Sam Shepard for breaking the forty year taboo and making what is essentially a sequel (though more like a continuation) to the story of the classic outlaws -- but with a twist. Well, everyone knows Butch and Sundance died in a shootout with Bolivian officials, but what this movie presupposes is...maybe they didn't?

Review: ‘The Death Of Andy Kaufman’ Is A Kaufman Fan's Labor Of Love

  • By Matthew Newlin
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  • July 31, 2011 3:47 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Even though he died over 25 years ago, Andy Kaufman can still ignite impassioned arguments over his brand of humor, his career and whether or not he faked his own death in 1984. Those who understood Kaufman will typically find themselves at a loss when trying to articulate exactly why his work was so important; you either get it or you don’t. Most people who do not understand Kaufman’s unique style of audience interaction vilify him as untalented or a hack.
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Review: 'Assassination Games' Presents Direct-To-DVD Action On The Big Screen

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 29, 2011 4:56 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Inexplicably hustling into (limited) theaters this weekend is “Assassination Games,” a hitman actioner the likes of which you’ve seen before. Jean-Claude Van Damme is the big name attached, but the “star” is martial artist Scott Adkins. Together the two cinematic pugilists have been cutting a swath through the world of direct-to-DVD action, though Van Damme has dabbled in the mainstream a bit more as of late. So, to some, this is a momentous match-up.

Review: 'The Smurfs' Hopes Your Kids Like Aerosmith, Bodily Functions & Tim Gunn

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 28, 2011 7:36 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There’s nothing inherently wrong with movies, television and product for the younger, least discerning set. Overspecialization has flooded the market with the rise of the internet and 800-channel cable systems, but entertainment made solely for the least-challenged among us can lighten up the imagination of the tots and toddlers otherwise lost amidst mass media aimed at the older set.

Review: 'Life In A Day' A Thrillingly Personal YouTube Documentary

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • July 28, 2011 6:33 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Kevin Macdonald's gloriously free-form new documentary, "Life in a Day," hinges around the uncanny conceit that you – that is, the thousands of people who contributed footage on a single day last summer – have co-authored the film. In an audacious promotional stunt/joyfully new age-y technological experiment, and partially in honor of the fifth anniversary of user-generated giant YouTube, users from around the world were implored to send in videos of their lives. They received 80,000 submissions from 140 nations, which resulted in a whopping 4,500 hours worth of footage. That footage, whittled down and sequenced and set to music (under the saintly supervision of Macdonald and editor Joe Walker), is what constitutes “Life in a Day.”

Review: 'The Future' Showcases A Vital Filmmaker Still Sowing Her Oats

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 28, 2011 4:31 AM
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  • 2 Comments
In “Another Earth,” Mike Cahill’s recent science fiction picture, a cataclysmic event provides the backdrop for a small-scale human story about tragedy and mourning. In the upcoming Evan Glodell-directed “Bellflower,” the characters plan for an oncoming apocalypse just as one of them deals with a devastating broken heart. And now we have “The Future,” where writer-director Miranda July ponders our every day roles within the framework of what tomorrow holds. Clearly, there’s a movement of indie directors concerned about What It All Means.

Review: 'Point Blank' Is An Energetic, But Utterly Pointless French Thriller

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • July 28, 2011 3:06 AM
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  • 4 Comments
"French thriller" is one of those phrases, like "German chocolate" and "Swedish pop record," that inspires enthusiastic excitement even when, perhaps, it shouldn't. Take, for example, this week's "Point Blank," directed by Fred Cavayé (whose "Pour Elle" was remade as Paul Haggis' pitiable "The Next Three Days"), which from the outset seemed to carry with it all the trademarks of a great French thriller – energetic, stylish, edgy. It's being marketed as the next "Tell No One," Guillaume Canet's massive crossover hit. But unlike that film, "Point Blank" isn't based on a best selling American novel and also, it's just not very good.
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