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The Playlist

Review: 'Hall Pass' A Raunchy Sex Comedy That's Afraid Of Sex

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 25, 2011 3:29 AM
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  • 1 Comment
It might seem like a distant memory, but at one time the Farrelly Brothers were the leading the pack -- and were possibly the only players of note -- in the arena of progressive, raunchy comedies. The trifecta of "Dumb & Dumber," "There's Something About Mary" and "Kingpin" put the sibling duo on the map but ever since, they've been chasing past glory to lesser and lesser effect which now brings us to "Hall Pass." Coming barely a month after "No Strings Attached," the Farrellys' film may be all dressed up in the trappings of a taboo breaking comedy but by comparison, it makes the Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher vehicle look positively avant garde. And worse, this might be the only R-rated sex comedy to get a thumbs up from the conservative right.

Review: 'Of Gods And Men' Is An Insightful, Intriguing But Heavy-Handed Look At Faith

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • February 25, 2011 2:32 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The following is a reprint of our review from the Cannes Film Festival.

Review: 'Vanishing On 7th Street' Disappears From Memory Quite Easily

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • February 18, 2011 4:33 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Rules. We sign a contract when we enter the theater, a contract usually based on an awareness of plot, genre, or even title. We expect certain elements to be present in a movie, certain laws the universe we witness abides, understands, and even subtly subverts. The horror genre differs in that it tries to reach out to universal uncertainty, to the sensations of the unknown.

Review: 'Zero Bridge' Goes For Realism But Ends Up With Stiffness

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • February 18, 2011 3:09 AM
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  • 1 Comment
It's always nice when filmmakers are open to collaboration. This teamwork isn't (and shouldn't) be limited to the actors, but their general environment as well. It takes an exceptional kind of artist to make these loose partnerships flourish, as a project could quickly become detached or too self-indulgent without the proper wrangling. Still, knowing that any sort of director is diving headfirst into a visually-rich area, planning to shoot guerilla style and working with non-actors to create something distinctive is pretty damn exciting. Tariq Tapa's arsenal had plenty of useful tools to make an incredible indie: a unique-looking cast of unprofessionals, decent video equipment, a simple improv-ready ten page outline, and the setting of the war-torn India-controlled Kashmir. Unfortunately, instead of resembling the works of the topically-fueled Nagisa Oshima ("Sing A Song Of Sex" was devised around national protests) or improv-heavy John Cassavettes, Tapa's much more grounded "Zero Bridge" has more in common with America's micro-indies, for better or worse.

Review: 'I Am Number Four' Is A Sci-Fi 'Twilight' With a Sense of Humor

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • February 17, 2011 4:41 AM
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  • 3 Comments
Based on a novel co-authored by shamed memoirist James Frey, "I Am Number Four" is a sci-fi take on the same sort of material that has made 'Twilight' an international sensation. Instead of sparkly vampires, though, it's a handsome, hounded alien played by Alex Pettyfer that takes center stage. And while it succeeds in some respects, particularly in the fact that it has a sense of humor and some jaunty action set pieces, it all too often falls into the same draggy aimlessness that largely defines the 'Twilight' franchise.

Review: 'Bouncing Cats' Details Breakdancing In Uganda, Suffers From Inexperience

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • February 17, 2011 3:42 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Breakdance Project Uganda (B.P.U.) is a program led by dancer Abramz, aiming to create a better, more positive life for what is known to be the "worst place on earth to be a child." Director Nabil Elderkin met Abramz and was completely enamored by his dedication to the future of Uganda's youth, equally impressed with the size of his relatively new, nearly entirely self-created b-boy program. The filmmaker decided to return to East African country with a documentary crew, rounding up plenty of star power (Mos Def and Will.I.Am are interviewed, Common lays the narrating track) and also famous breakdancer Crazy Legs (founder of Rock Steady Crew whom the New York Times cited as "foremost breakdancing group in the world today") to teach a few work shop classes and tour the program. Elderkin matches the Ugandan teacher's optimism through his digital lens, going through the area's history and its current poverty while always returning to dedicated children or current b-boys discussing how hip-hop has changed their lives for the better.

Review: 'Putty Hill' Combines Narrative And Doc To Provide An Experience Like No Other

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • February 17, 2011 2:45 AM
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  • 2 Comments
A loud, rapid series of thuds are heard. Deep in the woods, a ferocious game of paintball rages on as if lives were at stake or land was to be won. Taking cover behind a large, makeshift contraption is a young boy, one who wouldn't look too inappropriate on MTV's "Skins." He's not fit for this war, that's for sure, and the camera lingers on him as he catches breath and prepares to hide out for all eternity, or just until the end of the game. Suddenly, an off-camera voice breaks the peace and asks straight-forward, personal questions, which lead to explanations as to why he's involved in a game he could care less for and why his mood is more than a tad glum. A week ago his brother had OD'd and died, these comrades are not his friends but his siblings, taking the young kid out to unleash some bottled emotions. The funeral's just around the corner, and this small-knit town all plan on attending the services, regardless of how well they knew him or not. A few more bits are extracted from the boy (such as his brewing vampire novel -- which you "wouldn't get unless you read it") until a foxy girl discovers his spot and chats him up. Instantly the voice disappears, returning to non-doc narrative and letting the scene play out with a meditative quality.

Review: 'Unknown' Is Knowing Euro-Trash Fluff (Not Necessarily A Bad Thing)

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • February 16, 2011 3:45 AM
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  • 5 Comments
If you've seen the trailers for "Unknown," then you probably have a pretty good idea of what it's about and what it'll be like: all those quick cuts of car crashes and blue-tinted European scenery; Liam Neeson again assuming the role of grumpily righteous avenger (something he brought a laser-like focus to in the sleeper hit "Taken"); and a number of tired genre clichés trotted out for the masses (mistaken identities, Soviet-era spies, a potential assassination plot).

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

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • February 14, 2011 4:03 AM
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  • 0 Comments
From The Playlist U.K.: The pubs of London are littered with the carcasses of British comedy stars who weren't able to convert their TV success to the big screen. Countless sitcom actors made awkward, unfunny film debuts, and even big names like Ricky Gervais and Steve Coogan have mostly tripped over in the cinema. The principle exceptions in recent years, however, have been the "Spaced" duo of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, who, in reuniting with the director of that show, Edgar Wright, produced two bona-fide comedy classics in "Shaun of the Dead" and "Hot Fuzz."

Review: 'Carancho' Features The Car Crash As All-Purpose Metaphor

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • February 11, 2011 7:56 AM
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  • 2 Comments
If Pablo Trapero's "Carancho" is to be believed, and it is not a film without conviction, then Argentina is the car crash capital of the world. If not, it's fair to worry about certain drivers being behind the wheel -- 8000 Argentinians per year lose their life to an auto accident, so says the brief title cards in "Carancho," a stat that introduces us to the catalyst of what goes on in this film.

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