The Playlist

SXSW Review: 'New Jerusalem' A Hypnotic Film Experience About Friendship And Religion

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • March 16, 2011 2:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Despite a rather large and enthusiastic critical embrace of American neo-neo realism ("Wendy and Lucy," "Goodbye Solo," "Ballast," and a few others), there haven't been many (if any) new players entering the field. By contrast, mumblecore micro-indies are cropping up like corn, with young directors seizing the me-too attitude and grabbing shitty cameras to capture characters in apartments talking about relationships or focusing on their own inadequacies. Some are different, some are great, and like anything, you have to wade through the shit (which still get perplexing amounts of overenthusiastic quotes) in order to find the few artists pushing for something more. The neo-neo's are fewer in numbers but they're generally all worthwhile in some way, using their own brand of minimalism not to film conversations but to start them.

SXSW Review: 'Conan O'Brien Can't Stop' A Funny & Moving Portrait Of The Late Night Staple

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 15, 2011 9:25 AM
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  • 3 Comments
The maelstrom of controversy, sensationalized media coverage and generally hurt feelings that broke out during the kerfuffle that surrounded the decision to dethrone Conan O'Brien from his position as the host of "The Tonight Show" after seven months (to replace him with Jay Leno… the man he replaced), was something supercharged and grass-roots out-of-control, eclipsing even the late night battle that had David Letterman angrily leaving NBC for greener pastures at CBS. In other words: it was an even bigger deal than the last time NBC fucked up.

SXSW Review: Basketball Doc 'Elevate' Scores

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 15, 2011 6:36 AM
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  • 1 Comment
In the last few years, documentary films (at least the ones that are seen by everybody outside of HBO subscribers or museum frequenters) have splintered, roughly, into two camps. In one camp are the "issue" films that tackle some kind of grand social or environmental concern (like, say, the diorama-ish "An Inconvenient Truth" or "Inside Job") with a relative amount of objective emotional detachment. Then there are the documentaries that take a more narrative approach to their subjects, which resemble more closely traditional films and ask for a fair amount of emotional investment.

SXSW Review: Mike Mills 'Beginners' Is A Wonderfully Attuned & Empathetic Look At Love, Life & Grief

  • By The Playlist
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  • March 15, 2011 5:23 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Touching, heartfelt, melancholy and suffused with a gentle humanity (pick your soulful cliché), with his sophomore drama, "Beginners," filmmaker Mike Mills demonstrates once more that he's acutely attuned to the bittersweet and funny frequency broadcast from the pain of love and life. Mills' empathy antenna has always been sensitively in harmony with the human condition, as evinced by the overlooked "Thumbsucker," his more recent music videos and the short, "Does Your Soul Have A Cold?" (which almost feels a companion piece here). And in "Beginners" he masterfully demonstrates a generous and thoughtful perspective on emotional suffering, creating a piece that's as formally marvelous as it is sweeping and humanistic.

Review: 'Cracks' An Elegant, Dramatic Debut By Jordan Scott

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 15, 2011 3:16 AM
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  • 6 Comments
As the niece of Tony Scott and daughter of Ridley Scott, there's no doubt that director Jordan Scott has filmmaking in her blood, but for her feature debut, the helmer has taken on a subject matter far removed from the usual tentpole ready, popcorn spectacle of her father and uncle. "Cracks," which debuted at TIFF way back in 2009 and is finally getting a release thanks to IFC Films, is a film that seems curiously not to be getting the attention it deserves and we're not sure why. Assured and elegant, "Cracks" is a complex character study about the illusions we build that keep us from slipping out of sanity.

SXSW Review: 'Sound Of My Voice' A Sparse, Sturdy Debut By Zal Batmanglij; Star Turn By Brit Marling

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 14, 2011 7:38 AM
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  • 1 Comment
A sterile basement, untouched by tainted hands. A small coalition of the willing, clean, bright-eyed and brimming with a mixture of fear and optimism. A beautiful woman with a secret, clad in white, attached to a breathing apparatus, telling an outlandish story. Like the listeners, you hang onto every word, you cling to every hidden meaning. This is the world of “Sound Of My Voice.”

SXSW Review: 'Bridesmaids' Is Hilarious & Heartfelt

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 14, 2011 7:04 AM
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  • 6 Comments
"Bridesmaids" unveiled at SXSW as an announced work-in-progress screening, However, as director Paul Feig introduced the film, revealed that the picture was only missing a couple of minor sound edits and color corrections, but was not going to change in any significant way and that, except a couple of sound cues here and there, it was pretty much the film that would be hitting theaters on May 13th.

SXSW Review: Even Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Natalie Portman Can't Save The Oddly Off 'Hesher'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 14, 2011 5:20 AM
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  • 1 Comment
In the immortal words of C&C Music Factory, "Hesher," a dark comedy/drama concoction from co-writer/director Spencer Susser, is very much a thing that makes you go "hmmmm." This might not be a bad thing (to tell you the truth we're still parsing through our thoughts on the film), but it certainly exists – it's the kind of movie you're thinking about days after you've seen it, whether you want to or not.

SXSW Review: 'Paul' Delivers A Funny, Touching, Rewarding Journey

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 14, 2011 4:45 AM
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  • 4 Comments
The following is a reprint of our review from the film's UK release.

SXSW Review: James Gunn's 'Super' With Rainn Wilson & Ellen Page Is Twisted, But Uneven

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • March 13, 2011 6:41 AM
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  • 6 Comments
“Shut up, Crime!” bellows Rainn Wilson in “Super.” Such a random demand is highlighted by the outsized appearance of the speaker, clad in thick red fabrics, stocky and pear-shaped within a makeshift superhero costume. It serves as a power fantasy for him, a power fantasy for us. As seen through the eyes of writer-director James Gunn, a man of notably questionable taste, this is no ordinary fantasy.

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