The Playlist

Review: 'Essential Killing' An Intense, Provocative & Slightly Absurd Survival Tale

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 31, 2011 2:19 AM
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The name Vincent Gallo is a fairly divisive one. Just the very mention of it usually follows with an impassioned argument for or against the actor and certainly, he's done himself no favors. After breaking out in a big way with "Buffalo '66" the writer/actor/director/musician/sperm entrepreneur wasted no time in using any interview opportunity to slag off pretty much anyone and everyone. He followed up his gritty little indie with the infamous "The Brown Bunny," a road trip movie about a guy on a quest for a resentment filled blowjob. It was savaged by critics at Cannes and when it eventually arrived in a new edit, not even a climatic scene of explicit oral sex could get anyone to care.

Review: Oscar Winner 'In A Better World' Morally Complex, Well Made, But Not Quite Transformative

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • March 30, 2011 4:19 AM
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  • 1 Comment
When you see Susanne Bier’s “In a Better World” and people ask you if you had a good time at the movies, the answer will most certainly be “no.” Like Bier’s other work (notably “Brothers,” “Open Hearts,” “Things We Lost in the Fire” and “After the Wedding”), this 2010 Danish Oscar winner for Best Foreign Film is a serious, emotional drama about how tragedy simultaneously unites and divides us. There’s little enjoyment or entertainment to be had--and there isn’t meant to be--but Bier has crafted another solid film, and it’s easy to see why “In a Better World” won the votes of the mind-numbingly traditional Academy Award voters, particularly against the jaw-dropping Greek oddity “Dogtooth.”

SXSW Review: The Politics Of Sex In 'Weekend'

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 25, 2011 5:09 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Last year, Julio Medem’s “Room In Rome” was released. While there was a strong titillation factor implicit in the film’s erotic pairing of two would-be lesbians over the course of an extended lovemaking session, the film was an erotic but honest account of a wounded soul finding sanctuary in the arms of another. Sexuality faded into the background, and what was initially considered sensual was soon significantly weighty. The film, of course, never lost its flirt, its central healing occurring with a fourth-wall-breaking wink.

SXSW Review: 'Bellflower' Shows Us A Vision Of The Apocalypse, Hipster-Style

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 25, 2011 4:11 AM
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  • 2 Comments
It’s always exciting to see new voices emerge from film festivals, and you can add one more to the SXSW heap with “Bellflower” writer/director/star Evan Glodell. In “Bellflower,” Glodell and Tyler Dawson play Woodrow and Aiden, two Texas hipsters who believe they stand at the edge of the known world. In bits and pieces, their response is to piss and laugh drunkenly into the abyss. Mostly, it is to prepare for the apocalypse.

Review: 'Peep World' Gathers A Promising Cast And Does Nothing With Them

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • March 25, 2011 3:04 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Word on the IFC-distributed comedy "Peep World" has been enormously quiet, even for those who scour for the latest in upcoming indies. With a cast consisting of Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Judy Greer, Kate Mara, Ronn Rifkin, and Lesley Ann Warren flying under the radar like this without any buzz, it can't be a good thing. Barry W. Blaustein's second foray into narrative filmmaking (his first was, and let us never forget it, "The Ringer") is devoid of what makes comedy films work, including the whole "making the audience laugh" part.

Review: Belgian Oscar Entry 'Illégal' A One-Note Take On The Issues Surrounding Immigration

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 25, 2011 2:21 AM
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There is perhaps no political issue -- aside from health care maybe -- that stirs passions more than that of illegal immigration. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, it's undeniable that it's a complex one with ramifications that touch on education, the economy and yes, even the aforementioned health care. It's a thorny topic too, often rooted in personal experience, that it can be difficult to view it from any objective angle. But for director Olivier Masset-Depasse, there is no doubt where his sympathies lie and in "Illégal," Belgium's official foreign film selection for last year's Oscars, he makes his case with all the subtlety of a man pounding his fist on the table.

Review: 'Potiche' A Frothy, Fun Distraction

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • March 25, 2011 1:58 AM
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French auteur Francois Ozon’s “Potiche” begins with a scene that seems straight out of a Disney movie; that is, if Sleeping Beauty were wearing a ‘70s-era tracksuit and she happened upon bunnies shagging like, well, bunnies. Catherine Deneuve’s Suzanne Pujol steadfastly treks through the woods, keeping her figure trim for her businessman husband as she composes poetry for the feathered and furry friends who surround her. But as Suzanne walks through an idyllic oasis and returns to her mansion, it becomes clear that her life is no fairy tale.

Review: 'Sucker Punch' An Overstuffed, Deadening & Boring Journey Into A Zack Snyder Wet Dream

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 24, 2011 7:39 AM
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  • 42 Comments
For months now, through a barrage of teasing promotional materials, one question has remained about Zack Snyder's glitzy passion project "Sucker Punch" – what, exactly, is it? Is it a period drama about a young girl in a mental institution? Is it a dream world thriller a la "Inception"? Or is it some kind of experimental action film, in which characters take on dragons in one sequence and silvery robots in the next? Well, it turns out that the final product is all of these, and none of these things. It sure is noisy, though (especially if you watched it in IMAX like we did).

SXSW Review: Doc Roundup - 'Page One: Inside the NY Times', 'Buck' & 'Tabloid'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 23, 2011 3:36 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Yep, SXSW is over and we're still wiping the BBQ off our clothes; here's a round up of reviews for some documentaries we managed to catch while in Austin all of which should be hitting theaters later this year.

Review: Todd Haynes' 'Mildred Pierce' A Mouth-Watering Melodrama On An Operatic Scale

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 22, 2011 3:31 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Yes, we already know that Hollywood studios are continuing to pull away from adult oriented dramas, while continuing to pour money into franchises, sequels and spinoffs. And we've certainly already sung the praises of HBO for setting the standard for their colleagues by being a welcoming home for auteurs to toil away on the kinds of projects that wouldn't get them through the front door anywhere else. However, it's one thing to logically pair Todd Haynes with the period melodrama "Mildred Pierce" but when you surround him with the talent he has here, giving him an almost absurdly generous amount of running time to tell the story his way, it's practically like the cable network is sticking a thumb in the eye of Hollywood.

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