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The Playlist

TIFF '11 Review: 'From The Sky Down' A Disappointingly Incomplete Look At U2's "Achtung Baby"

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 9, 2011 8:55 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Whether you are a U2 fan or not, there is no denying their 1991 album Achtung Baby launched the band into the stratosphere of super-stardom and is simply one of the defining records of the '90s. With over 5.5 million albums sold in the U.S. alone, two Grammys for Best Rock Performance and Producer of the Year (for Daniel Lanois), the record not only found the group adjusting to the changing musical landscape of the late '80s and early '90s, it redefined their image and put them at the forefront of a select bunch of groundbreaking and hugely popular bands. 2011 will mark 20 years since the album first hit shelves on November 19, 1991, and U2 are celebrating in style. This summer they made their first festival appearance at Glastonbury, kicking off their set with a slew of songs from Achtung Baby and a massive reissue of the album is set to be released in October. And to cap it all off, the band has teamed with Davis Guggenheim ("An Inconvenient Truth," "It Might Get Loud") to create "From the Sky Down," a look back at the making of the album. It's an exciting prospect, but unfortunately, it leaves you wanting much, much more.

Review: 'Tanner Hall' Is An Amateur-Hour Panoply Of Boarding School Girl Cliches

  • By The Playlist
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  • September 9, 2011 3:30 AM
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  • 4 Comments
While featuring a promising cast of on-the-rise newcomers and comedy veterans, a strong production design, plus a visual aesthetic that proves digital cinematography can be warm and capture light in a pleasing autumnal manner, the one-dimensional indie flick "Tanner Hall," has almost nothing else to redeem it.

TIFF '11 Review: The Ralph Fiennes-Directed 'Coriolanus' Is As Well-Acted As It Is Challenging

  • By James Rocchi
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  • September 8, 2011 12:15 PM
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  • 6 Comments
From what little we know of Shakespeare's life, "Coriolanus" was one of his later tragedies; compared to his other works in the same vein, it's one of his more complex ones, as well. It doesn't offer us a father betrayed, like" King Lear," or a good man undone by his own wants, like "Macbeth"; instead, it gives us a Roman general who, in his hunger for war, devours his life -- family, country, honor -- when the world will not let him be a warrior and, instead, insists he be a war hero. Thrust into politics, Coriolanus is a general, then a politician, and then despised by the people who called for his elevation -- leading him to ally with his hated Vosican enemy Tullus Aufidus to attack his own homeland in a fit of rage.

TIFF '11 Review: Numbers Don't Lie In 'Moneyball' That Swings For The Fences & Hits A Triple

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 8, 2011 11:45 AM
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  • 4 Comments
America's greatest pastime hasn't been in great shape lately. Plagued by drug scandals and general disenchantment with the sport that pays astronomical prices for out-of-shape guys to hit a ball four hundred feet or so, it seems the magic of the ol' ballgame seems to have dissipated. This writer once religiously followed the sport, could rattle off batting lineups, bullpen rosters and second string second basemen at a moment's notice. But of late, we haven't had much reason to pay attention other than casually stopping in on games while flipping through channels. And while "Moneyball" won't get us picking up the daily sports section again, Bennett Miller's enjoyable and rousing film is a tribute to that the game's journeymen. The guys who aren't mega-watt stars, but who hustle day in and day out for years, all for the love of the game.

Venice '11 Review: 'The Last Man On Earth' A Promising But Flawed Sci-Fi Tinged Italian Debut

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 8, 2011 4:35 AM
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  • 0 Comments
It might seem, particularly after a summer at the multiplexes like the one that we've just had, that American culture is driven entirely by the comic book. But that's not quite true; superhero movies might be all the rage, but comic books themselves remain a relatively niche passion -- this July, only "The Amazing Spider-Man" sold more than 100,000 copies, and it remains tainted by associations of geekdom, generally confined to comics shops. In Europe, in particular France and Italy, things are different; it's almost impossible to walk into a paper stall or tabac without seeing a book like Blueberry, Largo Winch, Danger: Diabolik or Dylan Dog, and they're bought by readers from kids to the elderly.

Venice '11 Review: 'Killer Joe' A Terrific Texan Tale With A Revelatory Matthew McConaughey Turn

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 8, 2011 2:06 AM
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  • 4 Comments
In recent years, film translations of stage hits haven't been as prevalent as they once were. You might get the occasional "Doubt" or "Rabbit Hole," for instance, but compared to the early days of the talkies, when a large proportion of movies were based on Broadway hits, it's been slim pickings; audiences and critics have learned that most attempts at stage-to-screen translation fail to make the material truly cinematic.

Review: 'Talihina Sky' Offers A Fractured, Muddled Look At The Kings of Leon

  • By Mark Zhuravsky
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  • September 7, 2011 8:07 AM
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  • 4 Comments
For a film that appears to have unfettered access to the band Kings of Leon, Stephen C. Mitchell's "Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon" offers little cohesive insight into either the band or the forces that shaped the group and their music. The members of Kings of Leon -- brothers Caleb, Nathan, and Jared Followill, along with their cousin Matthew -- were first catapulted into the public eye in the U.K., and mainstream American success wouldn't come until 2008's Only by the Night. Mitchell's documentary seems to have been made at some point during those key years, and zeroes in on a Talihina, Oklahoma family reunion (the band members hail from Mt. Juliet, Tennessee).

Venice '11 Review: 'The Exchange' An Odd, Half-Interesting Follow Up To 'The Band's Visit'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 7, 2011 5:21 AM
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  • 0 Comments
"The Band's Visit" was something of a runaway success when it started doing the rounds in 2007. The feature debut of Israeli director Eran Kolirin, it told the story of an Egyptian police orchestra who become stranded in an Israeli desert town. Warm and witty, it became the best-reviewed foreign film of 2008, and was controversially denied the chance to be Israel's Oscar entry because of the rule that no more than 50% of films' dialogue can be in English. It's taken Kolirin a little time to follow it up, but that sophomore film has arrived, premiering today in Venice, and it's a definite about-turn from its predecessor.

Venice '11 Review: Surprise Film 'People Mountain People Sea' Is A Hard, Unsatisfying Journey

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 7, 2011 4:14 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The surprise film at a festival always has a tricky time living up to the sky-high expectations. Everyone brings in their own hopes and dreams, however unrealistic they may be, and the finished product has to be pretty special not to underwhelm -- witness the near-riotous reaction at the London Film Festival a couple of years ago when the surprise turned out to be not "Where The Wild Things Are," as widely-rumored, but instead Michael Moore's "Sicko." The reaction is slightly different at Venice, thanks to a reputation that the selectors hold back the most miserable, grueling film for the secret slot, so much so that most audience members are delighted if the film turns out to be anything other than footage of a close family member being slowly murdered.

Venice '11 Review: Sono Sion's 'Himizu' Is Close To Unwatchable, And Yet Vitally Important

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 6, 2011 7:50 AM
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  • 8 Comments
If you're after a quick response to recent events, particularly in the case of a cataclysmic disaster, cinema is not your medium. It takes years to write and develop even a bad script, let alone the financing, casting, shooting and pre-production of a film. And that's even without taking into account a reticence to address what has the potential to be traumatic material; there's a reason that it took half-a-decade for the events of 9/11 to reach the screen, and even then many believed that it was too soon for what some dismiss as mere entertainment to address such epoch-changing events.

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