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The Playlist

Karlovy Vary Review: Beautiful, Atmospheric Debut ‘Violent’ From Canadian Musician Andrew Huculiak

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 11, 2014 12:01 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Violent
On the surface, there’s no real reason why “Violent,” the debut feature film from Canadian director Andrew Huculiak, should be set so specifically in Norway, and be led by a Norwegian actress whose dialogue and voiced-over thoughts are also in Norwegian. But as the film draws you in, or rather quietly casts its heady spell of sound and atmosphere around you, that eccentric choice begins to make a compelling kind of sense. Not only does Huculiak’s outsider’s eye give rise to some extraordinary cinematography (via DP, editor and co-writer Joseph Schweers), of Norway’s countryside, towns and cities, but thematically too it feels like, standing at this deliberate remove, the filmmakers can more easily shift between subjective, intimate moments and the broader, ontological themes they illustrate.

Review: 'Rage' Starring Nicolas Cage, Peter Stormare & Danny Glover

  • By Nikola Grozdanovic
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  • July 11, 2014 11:05 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Rage
If, for whatever reason, you find yourself in an argument with someone who is desperately trying to convince you that Nicolas Cage has returned to form with his brilliant performance in David Gordon Green’s “Joe," you’ll be able to shut them up thanks to Paco Cabezas. They can bring up all sorts of scenes as valid evidence of Cage’s buried talents, unearthed by his performance as Green’s titular protagonist, but you’ll only need one word for a comeback and it will be checkmate—“Rage."

Review: Ron Howard's Concert Documentary 'Made In America' Featuring Jay Z

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • July 11, 2014 10:02 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Made In America
The Made in America Festival is a two-day music festival that began in 2012 in Philadelphia and the visionary behind it is Jay Z, the rapper and entrepreneur who was, at least back then, in the process of stretching his multimedia empire far beyond rap albums. Instead of selling out arenas, he was buying them. And Made in America seemed like the perfect example of the kind of things Jay Z was now attempting; the hip hop equivalent of diversifying your portfolio. But there was also something deeply personal about the Made in America Festival, and the metaphoric component of the project's inception is explored artfully in Ron Howard's gripping new documentary entitled, appropriately enough, "Made in America."

Review: Martha Stephens And Aaron Katz's 'Land Ho! Is Easy To Admire, Yet Restrained

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • July 10, 2014 6:32 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Land Ho!
Disenchanted, though you wouldn’t know it at first, the lively and unruly Mitch is aware that his favorite ex-brother-in-law—the mild mannered Colin—is in the dumps following the demise of his second marriage. Having recently retired from life as a doctor, Mitch drops by to tell Colin he has a surprise: an all-expenses paid trip to Iceland. Colin attempts to politely decline, content with moping around, but Mitch won’t take no for an answer, and much to his chagrin he is soon packing his bags for Reykjavik. Hitting luxury hotels, trendy hot spots, beautiful spas, fancy restaurants, relaxing hot springs and some of the beautiful and exotic sights of Iceland, Mitch and Colin catch up, renew their old friendship and discuss the obstacles they’ve faced in life while trying to make sense of it all. For the introverted Aussie that is Colin, that kind of introspection is not always healthy. For the Kentucky-drawling, skirt-chasing Mitch, it's simply “doobification” time (eg. smoking copious joints).

Review: 'Closed Curtain' Directed by Jafar Panahi And Kambuzia Partovi

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • July 10, 2014 12:25 PM
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Closed Curtain
It’s damn near impossible to reflect on Jafar Panahi’s latest directorial effort/rebellion, “Closed Curtain,” without considering the facts of his current life. After being arrested and imprisoned multiple times in the last few years, the Iranian government has prohibited Panahi from leaving the country and slapped the man with a 20-year ban on any sort of filmmaking. His torture was palpably captured in “This Is Not A Film,” a work created on cheap digital equipment that served not only as a diary for the filmmaker but as a defiant proclamation: his voice would not be silenced.

Review: Richard Linklater's 'Boyhood' Is A Remarkable Time-Spanning Achievement

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • July 9, 2014 6:07 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Boyhood
Last night in Park City, director Richard Linklater made cinematic history with the groundbreaking “Boyhood,” a time capsule-like exploration of childhood and family shot over the course of 12 years. And it’s unlike anything you’ve seen before, though the closest analogue might be the ambitious “Up Series," Michael Apted’s documentary series that revisits the same family every 7 years to catch up with where they are in life. Evincing many lucid and extemporaneous qualities, Linklater doesn’t do catching up though, as “Boyhood” feels much less like a greatest hits package and more analogous to being in the moment, watching the sprawling, occasionally dull home videos of family over more than a decade’s time. Warm, soulful, funny and quietly insightful, “Boyhood” shines in its engrossing, experiential understanding and it’s a special achievement that should be cherished and acknowledged.

Karlovy Vary Review: David Lambert’s Sexually Frank, Emotionally Wise ‘All Yours’

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 9, 2014 1:31 PM
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  • 1 Comment
All Yours
A truncated stay has meant we haven’t been able to see as many competition titles here at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival as we would have liked, but we can say it got off to a very promising start with this small-scale serio-comic drama, the second feature from “Beyond the Walls” director David Lambert. From the potentially grim premise of a young Argentinian man in such dire straits and with such a lack of prospects that he offers himself via the internet to anyone who will send him a plane ticket, the film then spins off into surprisingly gentle, non-judgy, non-cautionary tale directions, albeit sprinkled with some fairly graphic sex scenes, mostly gay, occasionally straight.

Review: ‘Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes’ Starring Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke & Gary Oldman

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • July 9, 2014 10:25 AM
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  • 19 Comments
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes
In the new cynical, cash-grabbing sweepstakes to manufacture polished, all-appealing four quadrant blockbusters— specifically engineered to reap hundreds of millions of dollars, of course— 20th Century Fox’s “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” sequel is of a rare, rare breed. It’s the genuine article, an engrossing tentpole with serious themes, complex moral conflicts and emotional stakes, and one that doesn’t feel as if it was written by committee or structured around big and familiar action set pieces. And it’s one that executes on all its lofty ambitions from minute one with nary a false note. In truth, the deeply absorbing and thematically rich ‘Apes’ sequel is more akin to a drama than an action film, but it's one that still satisfies the desires and demands of big, blockbuster filmmaking.

Karlovy Vary Review: ‘Little Accidents’ Starring Elizabeth Banks, Boyd Holbrook, Chloe Sevigny And Jacob Lofland

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • July 8, 2014 4:22 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Little Accidents Lofland
It’s no surprise that “Little Accidents,” which played at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival tonight for press, was a Sundance premiere: as a directorial debut from a promising new U.S.-based director, with a roster of reliable indie actors plus the added gloss of the higher-profile Banks in the mix, set against the backdrop of a hardscrabble mining town, led by a child protagonist and promising a minutely observed morality play, it ticks a whole warehouse full of “Sundance movie” boxes. That doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, but in the case of Sara Colangelo’s first film, it is certainly a very familiar one.

Book Review: 'Firestorm' Bridges Gap Between Between 'Rise' & 'Dawn Of The Planet Of Apes' With Thrills & Dread

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • July 8, 2014 1:02 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Prequel Book Firestorm
In 2001, Fox first tried to reboot "Planet Of The Apes," but the Tim Burton-directed film was a misfire, for all the reasons outlined here. Over a decade later the studio tried again, this time on a much more modest scale. They handed the wheel to rising director Rupert Wyatt, the biggest name in the cast was James Franco, and as the title "Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes" suggested, the story would take its time developing real stakes, rich characters and actions that had real consequences. And not only did treating the material with care lead to a box office hit, 'Rise' was also more intelligent than it had any right to be.

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