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The Playlist

Review: British Urban Melodrama 'Broken Lines' With Paul Bettany Falters, Fails To Convince

  • By Sam Price
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  • September 26, 2011 3:11 AM
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  • 0 Comments
There’s a familiar, some would say endless, argument about the British film industry: that the films it produces are essentially afraid of tackling the present and pressing contemporary issues. British directors, or at least the companies that finance their films, have rarely tried to engage with the shock of the now, and instead remain happy to retreat into a comfortable, mindless and nostalgic past that probably never existed in the first place. The recent riots that rocked the capital, for instance, or the fall-out from the News International hacking scandal are subjects less likely to be turned into a feature film than, say, something like “Notting Hill 2,” or any another mythological and monocultural representation of London or -- God forbid -- one of the country's other major cities. Occasionally someone comes along with a stick and pokes the ruling classes in the eye (think “The Shooting Party” or “Gosford Park”) but screenplays penned by Julian Fellowes can hardly be considered the stuff of breath-taking dynamism. When the Brits aren’t churning out benign pictures about a benign royal dynasty (hello, “The Queen” and “The King’s Speech”) or enlisting scads of former theatre directors (Richard Eyre, Stephen Daldry, Nicolas Hytner, Sam Mendes) to blandly recreate their deferential attitude towards bland material, they make shockingly poor gangster pictures that would make even a hack like Guy Ritchie blush.

Review: Seann William Scott's 'American Loser' Fails To Make Sense Of A Fractured Life

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 26, 2011 2:06 AM
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  • 6 Comments
There’s a vague sense of cruelty to the direct-to-DVD market, which is used to solely accommodate cheap genre products, but more often seems like a dumping ground for unusual niche projects that die a slow death on the festival circuit. They usually get treated much like the aptly titled “American Loser,” a dramatic half-comedy with Seann William Scott that went through a number of title changes before being dumped onto the market. The film now carries a title that not only insults the lead character, and by extension Scott (who has experimented a few times in risky projects that ended up with negligible releases), but it cravenly attempts to exploit the brand name for which he is known, “American Pie.”

Review: 'The Mill And The Cross' Is A Sumptuous Visual Feast

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 24, 2011 12:10 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Unlike a film, a book, or a television song, a painting has infinite life. The artist weaves his narrative with a brush, his work not a mimicry but an impression of a time that comes and goes. It’s this eternal life that enlivens “The Mill and the Cross,” a biography not of a person, but of “The Way to Calvary,” a 16th century creation detailing a crucifixion in the midst of a busy field of Flanders. The painting itself is dense with detail and incidence, and a movie capturing the context of what occurs inside would go on forever.

Review: Too Meta 'Human Centipede Part 2' Almost Reaches The All-Time Gross-Out Pantheon

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 24, 2011 1:35 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Is Tom Six a filmmaker? Is Tom Six a storyteller? No, at this point, you’ll have to conclude he is neither of these things. What he is represents something maybe more honest, more pure: he’s a provocateur. In making “The Human Centipede: First Sequence,” Six took a memorably deranged subject of medical dubiousness and turned it into a taut, often surprisingly funny shock fest, notable for its actual restraint considering the risible content. Lambasted for being a one-joke (one-gag?) premise, Six took advantage of a memorably deranged turn by Dieter Laser to produce a sterile, cold minor classic within the horror genre.

Review: 'Puncture' With Chris Evans A True Story Weighed Down By Oscar Reel Antics

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 23, 2011 2:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The following is a reprint of our review from the Tribeca Film Festival.

Review: A Brooding, Wooden Taylor Lautner Muddles His Way Through The Nonsensical 'Abduction'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 22, 2011 12:05 PM
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  • 18 Comments
In the future (it’s closer than you think!), celebrities will be an even bigger part of our society. While the pool of “famous people” will expand beyond movie stars, politicians and random public figures, we’ll find ourselves consumed by the public’s thirst for all things mega-famous. In this future, somewhere, someone will write a massive tome dedicated to the forehead of Taylor Lautner. Like the Monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” it is massive, and says everything and nothing. It sits on top of the scrunched up Zardoz-of-a-face that is this curious manchild, at once Cro-Magnon and, yet, every bit representative of his teenage years. It's going to be a helluva book.

Review: The Politics Of Sex Are Explored In 'Weekend'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 22, 2011 11:23 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The following is a reprint of our review from SXSW.
More: Review

Review: 'Machine Gun Preacher' Is Essentially A Botched 'Rambo'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 22, 2011 6:03 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The following is a reprint of our review that ran during the 2011 Toronto Film Festival.

Review: 'Dolphin Tale' Is A Thoroughly Average, Squeaky Clean Family Movie

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • September 22, 2011 2:04 AM
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  • 7 Comments
In the new, squeaky clean family film "Dolphin Tale," based on the true story of an injured dolphin that is outfitted with a cutting edge prosthetic tail, there are enough civic and spiritual virtues levelled at you to fill several Sunday school classes. The importance of family, friendship, never leaving someone behind, accepting those with disabilities, respecting the ocean, and studying hard in class, are reiterated repeatedly, so much so that you suspect this may be a sly "Christian values" movie dressed up like an eco-friendly Saturday afternoon romp (it does come from the same people who made "The Blind Side" so keep that in mind). But the movie is set in Clearwater, Florida, which many will recognize as the cuddly epicenter of Scientology in the United States, and scanning the background of any particular scene you can see the monolithic Scientology center (the Flag Building, as large as a city block) looming against the pale blue sky.

Review: 'Toast' With Freddie Highmore Is Burnt, Charred & Flavorless

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • September 21, 2011 6:53 AM
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  • 2 Comments
To adapt a story into a movie is to lionize the subject, say some critics. It’s the same school of thought that believes you can’t ever make an anti-war movie. To that end, some would say, in a Warholian manner, that every person deserves their own movie, for such a designation would suggest a humanist approach to the narrative of a single person from within the global culture.

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