The Playlist

Review: ‘Atlas Shrugged: Part I’ A Stiff, Soulless, Cut-Rate Adaptation Of Ayn Rand's Epic Novel

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 13, 2011 8:21 AM
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  • 21 Comments
It’s difficult to discuss Ayn Rand and "Atlas Shrugged" without touching on the countless attempts to produce a filmic adaptation of the work, beginning with producer Albert S. Ruddy’s plan in the early ‘70s, which fell apart when Rand insisted on final script approval. From there the highlights include an adaptation by Rand herself, which was unfinished at the time of her death in 1982; passing interest from Clint Eastwood; a TNT miniseries scrapped after the AOL Time Warner merger of the late ‘90s and, perhaps the most interesting attempt of all, a planned two-part adaptation from director Vadim Perelman ("The House of Sand and Fog") with a cast list rumored to include Julia Roberts, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Charlize Theron, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway.

Review: 'Scream 4' Takes A Stab At Relevance, Misses All The Major Arteries

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 13, 2011 4:07 AM
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  • 5 Comments
The idea of reviving the "Scream" franchise seems like a good one, at least on paper. When the original film was released in 1996, it was unlike anything that had come before it – a horror movie where the characters were well versed enough in the conventions of the genre to try and escape alive. Years before Comic-Con hijacked the multiplexes, "Scream" was a movie where basement-dwelling geekiness wasn't just a character trait, it was essential to your survival. The subsequent films, the underrated "Scream 2," which had the characters riffing on sequels, and the disappointing "Scream 3," in which the scales were erroneously tipped too much in the favor of arch hipness (and away from any actual scares), expanded the mythology of the original while somehow muddying the pure pleasures that the first film offered up.

Stage Review: Danny Boyle's 'Frankenstein' Is A Haunting Horror Show

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 11, 2011 11:37 AM
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  • 2 Comments
When we interviewed Danny Boyle a few months back, around the time that his humanist survival tale "127 Hours" was hitting screens, we overheard him talking to someone about his upcoming "Frankenstein" play. "Would it play on the West End?" the person asked, referring to the London version of Broadway. "No, no, no," the typically exuberant Boyle said. "It's a little too extreme for that crowd."

Review: 'Meek's Cutoff' Shows The Foibles Of Man & Helplessness Of Women On The Forgotten Frontier

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 8, 2011 2:42 AM
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  • 3 Comments
"Meek's Cutoff" takes place in the open fields of the midwest, the year 1845, the land untouched, civilization slowly being built, but where the film feels contemporary, with its period-specific detail, all thick bonnets and dirt-stained wagons, is in its intimacy. Director Kelly Reichardt has made a film where a deadly showdown between "Cowboy" and "Indian" has the same weight as a close-up shot of the strained knuckles of a traveler who has tied down too many ropes nightly.

Review: 'Arthur' A Tedious, Bland Comedy That Earns Intermittent Laughs Almost By Accident

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • April 8, 2011 2:21 AM
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  • 1 Comment
“Why?” will echo through your head if you’re a fan of the 1981 “Arthur” starring Dudley Moore as you watch this useless remake. The original won a shiny pair of Oscars and is considered a classic, but apparently Warner Bros. thought it needed to be remade for contemporary audiences. But the larger philosophical question soon fades in favor of a strictly personal one: “Why me?” Though it has fleeting funny moments, this Russell Brand vehicle is a sputtering Pinto that surprises more when it runs well than when it lurches to a stop.

Review: 'Hanna' A Study In Merciless Violence, Strong Performances And Block Rockin' Beats

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 6, 2011 11:25 AM
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  • 2 Comments
In "Hanna," Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan graduates to the next stage of her career, the one that all "respected actors" reach -- the action stage, where her piercing looks and astute natural intelligence are replaced by kicks, punches and improbable stunts. The anomaly, of course, is that Ms. Ronan has become a remarkably accomplished, borderline preternatural performer at a young age, and so the action phase of her career -- admittedly, a brief tour as opposed to the extended sojourn other actresses might enjoy -- has arrived fairly early. Such is the natural gimmick at the heart of "Hanna," one that audiences should find familiar by now: the little girl with wolf's teeth and bear's claws.

Review: Though Keanu Reeves' Heart Is In The Right Place, 'Henry's Crime' Is A Forgettable Offense

  • By The Playlist
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  • April 6, 2011 11:02 AM
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  • 4 Comments
The following review is reprint that originally ran during the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.
More: Review

Review: 'Ceremony' Is Charming & Well-Made, Despite Wes Anderson Derivativeness

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 6, 2011 10:42 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Employing similar symmetrical framing and tracking shots, classic rock soundtrack flourishes and quirky, fanciful characters, Max Winkler's directorial debut, "Ceremony" feels heavily indebted to the early works of Wes Anderson. Arguably a derivative effort in that sense, the film is still not without its delightful little charms, and despite the obvious familiarities, is still entertaining and engaging.

Review: 'Your Highness' Is Fantasy That's Gloriously Absurd, Hilarious & Balls-Out Irreverent

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • April 5, 2011 5:41 AM
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  • 12 Comments
The potential failure of something calling itself "Your Highness" and being marketed, in the most blatant of terms, as a medieval stoner movie, is fairly, er, high. These are untapped waters, and a fairly ballsy decision for Universal, after several big-budgeted near-bombs, to make a big budget, very-R-rated comedy that riffs on the esoteric spate of sword-and-sorcery movies from the 1980s (like Playlist favorite "Krull"). In short: it could have been truly, eye-rollingly awful.

Review: 'His Way' An All Too Brief, Surface Look At The Life Of Legendary Producer Jerry Weintraub

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • April 4, 2011 3:44 AM
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  • 0 Comments
They don't make 'em like Jerry Weintraub anymore. Born in Brooklyn, he quickly climbed the ladder, earning early success in the music business, working with a staggering array of talent including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Led Zeppelin, Neil Diamond, Eric Clapton, John Denver and more. Once he conquered the music game, Weintraub moved over to the movie business making a name for himself with Robert Altman's "Nashville" and going on to put his mark on films like "Diner," the "Ocean's Eleven" trilogy and "The Karate Kid." It's been a hell of a ride for the producer who, now in his '70s, shows no sign of slowing down and said recently, "the word ‘retirement’ it’s not in my vocabulary—they’re gonna take me out with my boots on.”

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