The Playlist

Review: 'A Matter of Taste: Serving Up Paul Liebrandt' Lacks Sizzle

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • June 13, 2011 4:32 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Among the great food cities of the world, New York City stands near the top. Home to some of the finest restaurants and most interesting, challenging cusine anywhere, it's a foodies delight. However, for those working in the industry in the Big Apple, the restaurant business can eat you alive. With restaurants making it or breaking it on the word of a handful of highly influential critics, with customers that are savvier than ever, building a career as a chef is a endeavor that only the most deliriously passionate can survive. A combination of long grueling hours, little to no recognition during those all important, but taxing years as a sous chef or apprentice, and the high wire act of finally striking out your own and opening your own restaurant can defeat even the most inspired and talented chefs. But for Paul Liebrandt, his situation was almost ten times worse.
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Review: Dense And Oblique, Monte Hellman's 'Road To Nowhere' A Welcome Return

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • June 10, 2011 8:53 AM
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The reemergence of a well-respected filmmaker will always draw the eyes of cinephiles everywhere; these once-master auteurs come out of hiding, hoping to recapture the energy and attention they once had. "The Godfather" auteur Francis Ford Coppola is currently enjoying a second career in film, and though he isn't making serious bank ("Youth Without Youth" couldn't even muster up $250,000 domestically), his latest output is some of his best work since the early 1980s. Few are as successful critically as that, and though we all have our dream lists (this writer can't be the only one hoping for a new Nagisa Oshima), some filmmakers can't restart the fire they once had -- often it feels like they're trying too hard to either keep up with current stylistic trends or forcing out a passion that they no longer have. Either way, these artistic resuscitations are often only ever seen as complete travesty or modern masterpiece, regardless of how detrimental those extremist labels truly are. Which brings us to this unfortunate question: which camp does "Road to Nowhere" by Monte Hellman (director of the great "Two-Lane Blacktop," absent from features since 1989) fall into? Depending on your affinity for David Lynch/Claire Denis-type narrative puzzles, it could go either way.

Review: 'Trollhunter' Visits The 9-To-5 Lifestyle Of The Monster Killer

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • June 9, 2011 12:17 PM
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  • 0 Comments
If you're one of the countless people that saw "Cloverfield" but felt there just weren't enough trolls, it appears that your needs have been catered to. "Trollhunter" is the latest in the Found Monster Footage genre, a weirdly-specific niche that accommodates the necessity of shooting cheaply with digital video and not showing much of the beast. This kooky Norwegian import pries open a mystery no one was really clamoring to answer, which is: what is buggering around in the forests of Norway? And is it possibly the mythical giant trolls we know from old bedtime stories?

Review: Michael Winterbottom's 'The Trip' A Wickedly Funny Road Trip

  • By The Playlist
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  • June 7, 2011 10:03 AM
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This review originally ran during the Tribeca Film Festival.

Review: 'Bobby Fischer Against The World' An Intriguing Portrait Of Genius & Madness

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • June 6, 2011 2:22 AM
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  • 1 Comment
It's hard to believe, but at one time chess was a national obsession and that was all due to one man: Bobby Fischer. A genius, enigma, egotist and sensitive recluse all rolled into one, Fischer's dynamic and unparalleled performance with chess pieces was matched by his notably eccentric personality when out in the real world. His tragic story -- from a beloved American icon to an embarrassing, blowhard bigot -- is already well documented, but director Liz Garbus breathes new life into it with "Bobby Fischer Against The World," the most compelling chess documentary you're ever likely to see.
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Review: The Drug Kingpin As Academic In 'Mr. Nice'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • June 3, 2011 3:18 AM
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Movies, and society as a whole, have struggled with how to portray drug dealers. The default showcase is the bloodthirsty villain, the person who is so one-dimensional as to think he knows what he’s doing is wrong, but does so anyway. But the cinema isn’t afraid to glamorize the profession either, showcasing the supplier as paradigm-busting rock star -- the best cars, the best planes, the best fashion, with a sex partner on each arm. Few opportunities have been taken to redefine the drug dealer as someone with a job, someone who isn’t desperately obsessed with his rise and fall, or the media circus that may relate to his surroundings. Then again, the argument could be that there haven’t been any on-screen kingpins quite like Howard Marks, the renaissance man at the heart of “Mr. Nice.”

Review: 'Turkey Bowl' Successfully Portrays A Fractured Group Of Friends...And Football!

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • June 3, 2011 2:42 AM
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  • 0 Comments
As we grow older, a number of unavoidable sad truths smack us square in the face. Many of them are probably things we swore would never happen to us -- and hey, wouldn't you know it, they did. One of these is the deterioration of a group of friends either due to distance, change in interests, or lack of convenience. In terms of mortality and the fragility of life they're not so dire, but there's still something very defeating about losing touch with people that, at one point, we had very substantial bonds with. Even the occasional get-togethers have a lingering "It's not what it used to be" sentiment for somebody, even if it's better to not hold the past up on a pedestal and just enjoy the moment. None of it is easy to shake and its something you can't understand until it's experienced. This heavy, draining thought pervades the film "Turkey Bowl," a cheapie first feature by Kyle Smith that rings with authentic emotion and tense discomfort.

Review: 'Rejoice And Shout' Attempts To Cover A Century Of Gospel In 2 Hours

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • June 2, 2011 8:57 AM
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  • 1 Comment
It always seemed like music was the only art where the subject didn't matter. If there's a good beat, a catchy hook, some sort of inventiveness, and/or intensified drive, most don't care what the hell the singer is spewing, even if it's about their specific belief system. Throw a bunch of hard-ass atheists on the dance floor and throw on "Jesus Walks"; see how many stomp their feet and protest (actually, don't, keep reading). There's numerous other examples (how many trendy God-hating teens like Christian-Metalcore band Underoath? Quick answer, too many), but for other mediums, it's not the case. Religious imagery feels too pushy, and while books like the Koran and Old Testament are densely written, good luck finding someone interested in reading it just 'cause.

Review: 'Beautiful Boy' Presents Tragedy As An Acting Exercise

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • June 2, 2011 8:12 AM
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  • 1 Comment
If you were, or still are, a post-millennial creative-type, there’s a chance you channeled the emotions and experiences of events like the Columbine massacre or 9/11 into some form of art. Very few of these ended up being films, books, or songs where audiences found meaning. Several of these people were wise enough to file that screenplay back in the cabinet, never to speak of our attempts at fake grief ever again.

Review: 'Submarine’ Is A Smart & Sharp Coming-Of-Age Comedy & A Promising Debut

  • By Cory Everett
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  • June 2, 2011 7:34 AM
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  • 1 Comment
One of the best films at this year's Sundance Film Festival was one that actually had its debut at last year’s TIFF. Richard Ayoade’s “Submarine” is a remarkably assured debut filled with dry humor, inventive visual wit and great performances. Adapted by Ayoade from a 2008 coming-of-age novel by Joe Dunthorne, the film follows 15 year old Oliver Tate (a perfectly cast Craig Roberts), a somewhat delusional teenager who believes himself to be a literary genius, (he reads Nietzsche and searches the dictionary for new words), but in actuality is a social outcast who gets bullied at school and doesn’t know how to talk to girls. Oliver develops a crush on classmate Jordana (a wickedly good Yasmin Paige), an emotionally guarded pyromaniac, who initially agrees to go out with him only to make her ex-boyfriend jealous.

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