The Playlist

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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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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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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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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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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Review: 'El Bulli: Cooking In Progress' Uses Simplicity To Achieve Quality

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • July 28, 2011 2:07 AM
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Television has always made a great home for food. Various cooking shows populate the airwaves, either becoming a staple of one's TV-diet or the one station you linger on during a desperate channel-surfing session. It also wouldn't be worthy of the tube if it weren't processed through the vomit of reality TV, with shows like "Hell's Kitchen" and "Ace of Cakes" morphing people into exestuated personalities and following their bouncy, sometimes-quirky-sometimes-emotional (whatever gets more ratings) adventures in the eats biz. Still, people watch them, and despite the redundant programming, nobody is exactly screaming for a more realistic study of cuisine and all that makes it happen. It's unfortunate, too, because there's something very fascinating about making what is generally supposed to be only for nourishment artful. Forget something tasting good; there are many eateries that consider food an art form, hoping to stimulate taste buds in different ways while also paying close attention to the presentation of each dish.

Review: 'The Guard' Is Ireland's Acidic Answer To The Buddy Cop Formula

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 27, 2011 6:24 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The following is a reprint of our review from the Tribeca Film Festival.

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