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The Playlist

Review: 'Khodorkovsky' Is An Engaging Tale About Capitalist Russia's First Billionaire

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • November 30, 2011 11:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments

Review: Steve McQueen's 'Shame' A Fascinating Follow-Up To 'Hunger,' With A Tour-De-Force From Michael Fassbender

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • November 29, 2011 10:01 AM
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  • 1 Comment
As English-language directorial debuts of the last few years go, Steve McQueen's "Hunger" ranks up there as one of the most uncompromising. An award-winning, sometimes controversial British artist, McQueen chose to move into feature films by examining the life of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands, managing not to flinch from any of the grim details, using takes of up to 20 minutes in length, and showcasing a blazing performance from the now firmly-planted-on-the-A-list Michael Fassbender. It picked up an enormous amount of critical support, including the Camera D'Or at Cannes in 2008, and signified both director and star as major talents to watch.

Review: 'Sleeping Beauty' Starring Emily Browning Seduces With The Pervading Power Of A Dream

  • By James Rocchi
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  • November 28, 2011 2:06 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Greeted with diffident, muted applause at Cannes -- where it was instantly vaulted into must-see territory the second it arrived in competition despite being the debut effort of a first-time director -- "Sleeping Beauty" is a film that seduces and repels, that flickers between a come-hither smoldering gaze and dead-eyed passive aggression. This is, in many ways, the kind of film you only get at a major festival, a hothouse flower, beautiful and delicate and yet surprisingly hardy and potentially toxic. At the same time, it's exactly the kind of film least well-served by being screened at a major film fest, with considered, slow contemplation pushed aside for rushes to judgment as fleet as a tweet.

Review: Feel-Good & Earnest 'We Bought A Zoo' Hits All The Heartwarming Notes

  • By The Playlist
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  • November 27, 2011 12:25 AM
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  • 10 Comments
Pitched somewhere between an earnest and romantically idealistic chronicle of loss and hope and a poignant examination of grief and bitter pains of family, Cameron Crowe's "We Bought A Zoo," occasionally still slathers it on too thick with the saccharine sentimentality and telegraphed romantic clichés, but by and large, the picture still succeeds in its heartwarming aims thanks to its naked, heart-on-its sleeve sincerity. Not an easy trick in an age of cynicism and information, but one that ultimately works regardless.

Review: Edward Yang's 'A Brighter Summer Day' A Wonderful, Classic Piece Of Cinema

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • November 26, 2011 11:10 AM
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  • 5 Comments

Review: Cronenberg's 'A Dangerous Method' An Insightful Look At Sexuality & The Mind

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • November 23, 2011 10:01 AM
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  • 5 Comments
The recent career of David Cronenberg has been an interesting thing to watch. Having made his name with a very particular, icky brand of fetish-happy body horror, he hasn't dipped back into that well for a decade now, preferring instead to take his obsessions and use them to spice up what in other hands could be standard fare. And generally speaking, it has worked well: "Spider," "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises" all have much to recommend them, all peculiarly Cronenbergian, but each pushing in a slightly different direction. But now he's made what, on the surface at least, might seem to be his biggest departure to date: a period piece, based on a stage play (one of several in Venice this year--have movies rediscovered theater as a source of material?), that examines the relationship between the two major forefathers of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

Review: Slumdog Singers Shine In 'The Sound Of Mumbai'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 22, 2011 5:16 PM
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  • 1 Comment
It almost seems too easy. Get some poverty stricken Indian children, pair them up with a composer, and send them to a prestigous, fancy pants performing arts center to wow an audience with songs from everybody's favorite "The Sound Of Music." And yes, while "The Sound Of Mumbai" will hit all the adorable and cutesiness buttons you might expect from an endeavor such as this, director Sarah McCarthy does find some geniunely compelling narrative threads to follow in her debut feature film, even if the end result is plauged by some beginner errors and curious editorial decisions.
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Review: A Slight & Superficial 'My Week With Marilyn' Often Resembles A Lifetime Movie

  • By The Playlist
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  • November 22, 2011 2:33 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Marked by an admirable, but certainly not spectacular performance by Michelle Williams -- in a role she's arguably not very suited for -- some wonderful costuming, set design and locations, and a stand-out supporting turn by Judi Dench, there aren't many other favorable things to say about "My Week With Marilyn," a slight drama with a reputable cast that still feels through and through like a superficial, made-for-TV Lifetime movie.

Review: 'Hugo' A Touching Ode To Cinematic History & The Wonders Of The Imagination

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 22, 2011 10:19 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Yes, we already pretty much reviewed Martin Scorese's "Hugo" when it surprise-screened at the New York Film Festival last month in a not-quite-complete version. Even then in its unfinished state, The Playlist staff on hand were swept away by the fable conjured up on screen, and with this writer now having caught up and taken in the finished version, it's another reason to talk about a movie that we hope isn't lost in the holiday shuffle. Magical, charming and brimming with the kind palpable love for cinema that only a devoted cinephile like Martin Scorsese can bring, "Hugo" is an endearing story where imagination is the biggest special effect of all.

Review: 'Arthur Christmas' Is A Visually Dazzling, Emotionally Rich Holiday Treat

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • November 22, 2011 9:02 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Making a truly classic Christmas movie is a feat that few achieve but many try their hand at. In recent years, studios have cynically tried to graft "edgy" material onto all-audiences Christmas approaches, often times involving Vince Vaughn for reasons that remain obscure, and the results are barely watchable trash-heaps like "Fred Claus" and "Four Christmases." The trick is to modernize an archetypal story for current audiences without losing the seasonal sweetness (there's a reason "Elf," for all its mediocrity, is so beloved). Aardman Animation and Sony have attempted to do just that with "Arthur Christmas," a surprisingly rollicking, visually dazzling, and emotionally rich Christmas movie that actually succeeds in its lofty goals of being an ready-made annual classic. It's practically gift wrapped for the occasion.

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