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The Playlist

Review: ‘Killer Elite’ Offers Some Cheap Thrills But Not Much Else

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • September 21, 2011 2:04 AM
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  • 2 Comments
The following is a reprint of our review from TIFF.

TIFF '11 Review: Discovering People Like Dirty Sex Breaks Juliette Binoche's Brain In 'Elles'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 17, 2011 9:28 AM
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  • 2 Comments
We live in a pretty progressive time where fetishes and other various sexual peccadillos are common knowledge if not comfortably discussed. But in Malgoska Szumowska’s weirdly old fashioned, quasi made-for-TV "Elles," Anne (Juliette Binoche) nearly has a nervous breakdown while researching an article for a magazine when she learns -- gasp! -- that some people pay for dirty sex with prostitutes. No way.
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Review: Cool-Kids-Who-Kill 'Violet & Daisy' From 'Precious' Writer Isn't What You'd Expect

  • By James Rocchi
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  • September 16, 2011 9:35 AM
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  • 2 Comments
After winning an Oscar for his screenplay for "Precious," Geoffrey Fletcher probably had options. The fact that directing "Violet & Daisy" -- a candy-colored crime story about two teen girl killers and their latest target -- was his ultimate choice is worthy of note in and of itself. Fletcher could have stayed in the vocabulary and landscape of "Precious" -- or, less charitably, thrown a rock and hit another indie film tale of life in the big city -- but instead stepped up, and out, to do something completely different as his directorial debut.

Review: 'Happy Happy' Stirs Melancholic Cocktail, Not Shaken Enough

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 16, 2011 6:54 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Agnes Kittleson, an actress of slightly more angular, Nordic features similar to Michelle Monaghan, has a smile that fills the screen. It’s truly one of the prettiest, purest smiles this writer has seen in a film in decades. It’s unfortunate that, of the world’s auteurs, most of them work on the darker side of the spectrum -- Lars Von Trier, for one, would probably eliminate that smile for all of eternity. But this girl could be a star, or at least the everlasting face of an international gum company, with a face like hers. It’s also a consistent reminder that “Happy Happy,” despite its dark edges, is a pleasant, if low-aspiring comedic drama, about how the frayed ropes that connect us can still keep us from madness. Agnes and Joachim Rafaelsen play Kaja and Eirik, a married couple who live on the outskirts of town with various intimacy issues of varying degrees. She wants sex but he’s emotionally withdrawn. Her affections are more maternal, while Eirik clearly shares a passive-aggressive bond with his somewhat anti-social son. Enter Sigve and Elisabeth, a troubled husband and wife who, for some reason, are interested in renting the house next door, the only house in what seems to be miles of land. Their very presence is condescending, the two of them priding themselves in their ability to be forward thinking, and when they visit Kaja and Eirik, it almost seems like they’re doing them a favor.
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TIFF '11 Review: 'Butter' Tries To Carve Up Edgy Laughs But Goes Soft By The End

  • By James Rocchi
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  • September 15, 2011 7:02 AM
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  • 1 Comment
A political satire set in the competitive world of butter-carving at the Iowa state fair, the script for "Butter" was so ballyhooed and praised of that it wound up on The Black List, the annual underground buzz list of unproduced screenplays based on a straw poll of agents, development executives and insiders. (As a side note, we must say that The Black List is only interesting as a barometer of quality insofar as you trust agents, development executives and insiders to be able to tell good from bad, which much of Hollywood's output suggests is not actually the case.)

Review: Rod Lurie Delivers 'Straw Dogs' For Dummies

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 15, 2011 4:10 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t: it’s probably a matter of time before every movie is remade, and as such, it was likely the appropriate moment for “Straw Dogs.” There’s no rhyme or reason to any of these remakes other than, "We have a catalog title, let’s just make sure it doesn’t go to waste rotting in our vaults." Ideally, each remake has its own deviation, a separate reason for existing. To Rod Lurie, who clearly has affection for the original movie, the task was simple: how to honor the spirit of the original film but make it an intellectually crippling affair, an ugly, irredeemable black hole of stupid contrivances, inconsistent characterizations, and melodramatic bullshit?

TIFF '11 Review: 'Jeff Who Lives At Home' Takes The Duplass Bros Mainstream For Their Best Film Yet

  • By James Rocchi
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  • September 15, 2011 2:18 AM
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  • 1 Comment
As surreal as it is to see a micro-budget Duplass Brothers film start with the stars and mountainous terrain of the Paramount logo, in many ways that contradiction and clash sets the tone for their new comedy "Jeff Who Lives at Home." Strange things are afoot in the cosmos as Jeff (played with affable confusion and large-framed, good-hearted charm by Jason Segel) is trying to keep his eyes open for what the universe might be telling him, in terms of his destiny and purpose. Also, his mom Sharon (Susan Sarandon) would like it if he could get his ass off the couch in her basement and go to Home Depot to get wood glue to fix a broken pantry door slat …

TIFF '11 Review: 'Hysteria' Is The Vibrator Comedy Movie You Can Watch With Your Mom

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 14, 2011 10:11 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It turns out all Sabina Spielrein needed to get over her hysteria was not Freud or Jung or the talking cure, but just a really good fingering. Indeed, the course of sexuality and/or psychoanalysis might have been irrevocably altered had Sabina taken a trip to London to visit Dr. Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce), in "Hysteria," a "based on true events" comedy about the invention of the vibrator. But like any bad lover, the film is heavy on foreplay but when it finally takes its pants off, the resulting encounter is less than satisfying.

TIFF '11 Review: 'The Deep Blue Sea' A Beautiful, Woozy & Heartbreaking Tale Of Intense Passion

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 14, 2011 8:12 AM
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  • 7 Comments
"Beware of passion Hester, it always leads to something ugly."

Review: 'Lion King 3D' Maintains All of the Majesty of the Original, With Added Dimensional Sparkle

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • September 14, 2011 7:03 AM
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  • 4 Comments
A few years ago, Disney planned a theatrical release for a 3D version of "Beauty & the Beast," using the cutting edge, post-"Avatar" technology that we've all come to know so well (and sometimes dread just as much). The conversion took place, at great expense, but the theatrical engagement (originally set for February, 2010) never materialized. Still, the studio pressed ahead (Walt always said that good ideas never die), and this week the studio's traditionally animated crown jewel "The Lion King," in a shiny new 3D format, will get a proper release – in 2,000 3D screens across the country. But what does a 3D version of a traditionally animated movie look like, exactly? And is it worth seeing again, with a 3D ticket surcharge no less?

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