The Playlist

Fantasia '11 Review: 'Retreat' Piles On The Twists, But Doesn't Deliver The Thrills

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 19, 2011 2:05 AM
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Writer/director Carl Tibbetts certainly didn't spare himself any narrative hurdles for his debut feature "Retreat." In fact, one could argue that it's nothing but narrative hurdles. The single setting film tosses together a psychological thriller, marital discord, sexual tension, an airborne virus and someone who may just be totally insane into a hearty stew that is unfortunately still somewhat flavorless. Curiously both overstuffed yet still empty, "Retreat" tries to be too many things at once and ultimately winds up having very little to show for the effort.

Fantasia '11 Review: 'Attack The Block' Is The Real Deal Bruv, Believe

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 18, 2011 2:41 AM
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  • 0 Comments
We're just over seven months into 2011, and we've already seen a staggering number of alien-oriented films, and for the most part, they haven't been friendly. In "Battle: Los Angeles" a ragged military crew squared off against the space invaders, while in the upcoming "Cowboys & Aliens" Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford will use old-timey western know-how to fight off the creatures from beyond. But there is another interesting trend developing even among this this little niche of films: kids are frequently the ones being called upon to save the day. In J.J. Abrams' "Super 8" best friends and junior high classmates outwit their parents and the military to save their town and the Earth, and later this year, "The Darkest Hour" will find Emile Hirsch and Olivia Thirlby helping a group of youths against another batch of extraterrestrials. But between those two films will be the hotly buzzed "Attack The Block," a film that shares with "Super 8" a plot about some very young kids who find some very vicious creatures in their midst, but in all other respects is completely, refreshingly and excitingly different.

Review: 'Mann V. Ford' A One-Dimensional Tale Of Bittersweet Justice Served

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 18, 2011 1:59 AM
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  • 16 Comments
What kind of price tag do you put on justice after decades of being harassed, abused, ignored and victimized by big business and government alike, whose actions have devastated a community and a way of life that will never be the same again? Can justice ever truly be served and what shape will it take? Those are the central questions that co-directors Maro Chermayeff and Micah Fink endeavor to answer with "Mann v. Ford" a well-intentioned, but fundamentally flawed film that takes us elbow-deep into the shocking and heartbreaking titular case, which results when the Ramapough Mountain Indians -- longtime residents of Ringwood, N.J. -- find their people ravaged with cancer and other illnesses after it's discovered that Ford used their land as dumping ground for toxic waste in the late '60s and early '70s.
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NYAFF '11 Reviews: 'Vengeance Can Wait,' 'Love And Treachery' & 'Raw Force'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 15, 2011 11:05 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"Vengeance Can Wait"You may be fooled into thinking “Vengeance Can Wait” is another hardcore Korean revenge drama where the end features someone sobbing over another man’s corpse, both of them overcome with the loss of their souls. But no, thankfully, it’s a Japanese farce, where two roommates pretend to be brother and sister only to find themselves romantically entangled with an old school classmate, with the male roommate still nursing a crush.
More: Review, NYAFF

Fantasia '11 Review: 'The King Of Devil's Island' A Chilly & Compelling Nordic Drama

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 15, 2011 3:31 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Stop if you've heard this before: an overbearing headmaster gets his comeuppance from his students after he pushes them too far, causing a violent uprising and revolt to take place. In literature and in films, variations on this theme have cropped up time and again usually with the same types of characters and signifiers, with the story and pacing playing out to the beat of a very familiar drum. And while on paper, Marius Holst's "The King Of Devil's Island" may seem like a trip down an already well-worn path, the film is a refreshing surprise that offers up a character-driven take on the genre that throws familiar notions of how this kind of story should play right out the window.

Review: 'Without' An Assured Dramatic Debut By Director Mark Jackson

  • By Erik McClanahan
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  • July 15, 2011 2:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"Without" was screened last weekend as part of Outfest 2011 in Los Angeles and Sound Unseen International Duluth in June.
More: Films, Review

Review: 'Salvation Boulevard' Spotlights A Murder In The Megachurch

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 14, 2011 2:59 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Religion remains the one cinematic taboo. As it should be: developing belief systems to create order in a world that, to some, appears chaotic is as human as eating and breathing. To say it is the territory of the idle-minded is to neglect the healing power of a belief system, theistic or otherwise. But more often than not, it allows the eloquent and duplicitous an opportunity to capitalize on those that seek guidance.

NYAFF Reviews: 'Milocrorze', 'Love And Loathing And Lulu And Ayano' & 'The Seaside Motel'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • July 13, 2011 3:20 AM
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  • 0 Comments
“Milocrorze: A Love Story”Yoshimasa Ishibashi’s hyperactive ode to the destructive power of romance is all things at once -- focused on three narratives, “Milocrorze” attempts to encapsulate the crushing defeat of male romance as if it was exclusive to one sex. The picture is book-ended with a boy’s (later a man’s) crush on the immaculate Milocrorze, a woman of no discerning traits who appears to have storybook beauty and, for the sake of his fantasies, might as well walk on water. The tone is set for the rest of the film by making her an object of pursuit with no particular personality -- whether you’ll accept the film or not relies on how much you’re willing to accept this. Given that 90% of all Hollywood films are guilty of the same crime, it’s a bitter pill but one that we’ve all swallowed at one point.
More: Review, NYAFF

Review: 'Harry Potter & The Death Hallows Pt. 2' Is An Utterly Magical Conclusion to the Franchise

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • July 13, 2011 2:25 AM
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  • 5 Comments
It's been more than 10 years since we first watched Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe, through thick and thin), with his jagged lightning bolt scar and hard knocks childhood (he was orphaned after his parents were brutally murdered by a dark wizard), arrive at Hogwarts School to fulfill his destiny as "the boy who lived." In the years since Chris Columbus' sleepy debut films, the series has had its ups (Alfonso Cuarón's immaculate 'Prisoner of Azkaban') and its downs (Mike Newell's gonzo Bollywood 'Goblet of Fire') before settling in with its designated auteur, David Yates, who has helmed the last four films including this, the final entry, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2." Things have gotten decidedly darker since those early adventures, and decidedly more epic, too. And if you're concerned about the series going out with an appropriate bang, you shouldn't be. This swan (or maybe it's Hippogriff?) song delivers emotionally, dramatically, and cinematically: the results are positively magical.

Review: 'Daylight' An Uneven But Compelling Psychological Drama

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • July 12, 2011 2:36 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Few people will disparage an expectant mother. People are people, good and bad, but there's something majestic, alluring, and graceful about a pregnant female. It's some inexplicable aura that surrounds them, a soft soothing light that alters the mood of anyone they come in contact with. A meaningful moment with one is akin to a divine experience. It's this logic that permeates David Barker's "Daylight."

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