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The Playlist

Review: 'Somewhere' Is A Shallow Disappointment From An Ossified Sofia Coppola

  • By Edward Davis
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  • December 21, 2010 8:19 AM
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  • 5 Comments
This review originally ran during the London Film Festival.

Review: 'Little Fockers' Is That Lump of Coal You (Apparently) Asked For

  • By Kimber Myers
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  • December 20, 2010 3:30 AM
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  • 0 Comments
A blatant cash grab from studio logos to closing credits, “Little Fockers” takes the money-making formula of "Meet the Parents" and "Meet the Fockers" and adds adorable kids, Jessica Alba, and glorified cameos from Harvey Keitel and Laura Dern into the mix. Families will flock to the holiday release with gusto, but it’s up for debate whether 100 minutes with the Focker and Byrnes families is worse than quality time with your own dysfunctional clan. Sure, there are a few laughs, but we’re not talking minor discomfort on the level with your aunt having spinach casserole stuck in her teeth and blithely smiling for the camera. “Little Fockers” is roughly as pleasant as enduring a rum-and-whiskey-fueled shouting match over the merits of the healthcare bill.

Review: John Cameron Mitchell's Grieving Drama 'Rabbit Hole' Digs Up Deep Emotion

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 17, 2010 7:22 AM
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  • 0 Comments
This review originally ran during the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival.

Review: 'Casino Jack' Showcases A Broken System With Irreverent Glee But An Unfocused Eye

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • December 16, 2010 10:32 AM
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  • 0 Comments
In case you needed a primer on what a lobbyist is, “Casino Jack” has got you covered. Based on the rise and fall of disgraced Washington man-about-town Jack Abramoff, the comedy-drama explains with great detail and full color exactly what a lobbyist does, what sort of influence they wield and their reputation amongst the Beltway set. Director George Hickenlooper’s outlook is, of course, that these people are cockroaches. Whether he’s correct or not is irrelevant to the content of the film itself. But between you and me, yes, he is.

Review: 'How Do You Know' Is An Uneven But Ultimately Pleasant Experience

  • By Christopher Bell
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  • December 15, 2010 8:17 AM
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  • 2 Comments
With a recent influx of middling romantic comedies, it's easy to forget how different the genre used to be. Now very polished and only a success if it stars 40 different actors/actresses each with three minutes of screen time, movies including "Green Card" and "Crossing Delancey" showed a different side of things. Instead of drowning audiences in star power, they offered a down-to-earth and complex female individual with an unfortunate penchant for choosing the wrong guy. It was easy to figure out who to root for, but there was something more to it. It may have been the comfortable aura the movies had about them, or the fact that their protagonists looked more like real people than, say, Jessica Alba or Jennifer Garner. James L. Brooks did it even better, delving into all characters and really seeing what made them tick. It's easy to forget him; while he's not a stranger to romantic comedies he's more like a visitor, making a film once every few years before going back into hiding. His peak was with 1997's "As Good As It Gets," which garnered two Oscars for its leads along with a slew of other nominations, but 2004's "Spanglish" was largely ignored and forgotten. He returns six years later with the regrettably titled "How Do You Know," a typically pleasant diversion from the usual fare but not without its problems.

Review: 'True Grit' An Old-Fashioned Oater Only The Coens Could Make

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 15, 2010 3:04 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Judging by some of the early reviews of "True Grit" you would think that the Coens had left their bag of tricks at home when making the film, delivering a respectful if overly formal western. However, it seems those reviewers who got an early look forgot that the Coens are often found at the height of their creative powers when operating with a genre milieu. Take "Miller's Crossing," "The Hudsucker Proxy" or "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" -- all films with giant nods to filmmakers of yore, yet each imbued with the Coens' own distinctive thematic obsessions: this all continues with "True Grit." Wickedly funny, undeniably compelling and yes, touched with a less cynical heart than some of their most recent efforts (though hardly "sentimental" as some critics have suggested) the picture finds the Coens pushing all their usual techniques to the fore, while at the same time keeping them constrained by the genre they're working within and for most part, it works wonderfully.

Review: 'London Boulevard' A Miscast Mess

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • December 13, 2010 4:00 AM
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  • 1 Comment
It's quite rare for a screenwriter to become something of a brand name, particularly with fewer than half a dozen produced credits, and, while William Monahan may not mean a huge amount to the general public, his is a name that tends to make film geeks prick up their ears. In the decade since he worked on the aborted project "Tripoli" with Ridley Scott, Monahan's become one of the most in-demand writers around. Scott may have botched his excellent crusades script "Kingdom of Heaven" by casting Orlando Bloom in the lead, but the writer can't have minded too much, as only a year later he was picking up an Academy Award for his work on Martin Scorsese's "The Departed."

Review: Julie Taymor's 'The Tempest' Is A Blustery Much Ado About Nothing

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • December 10, 2010 3:25 AM
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  • 0 Comments
This review originally ran during the 2010 New York Film Festival.

Counterpoint Review: 'Tron: Legacy' Is A Masterclass In Poor Storytelling

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • December 9, 2010 5:03 AM
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  • 15 Comments
We ran our first review "Tron: Legacy" yesterday, here's another take on the film.

Review: 'The Tourist' Is Not Worth Getting Out Your Passport For

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • December 9, 2010 3:35 AM
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  • 4 Comments
From the very first shot of the film, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck makes it evident that "The Tourist" will attempt to be flashy, frothy entertainment. An impeccably dressed police captain climbs into the back of a van with three more impeccably dressed officers, bringing them a tray of espresso, in some pretty fabulous looking takeout cups (no grimy We Are Happy To Serve You style cups for these guys). It's a minor detail, but the scene is indicative of the film as a whole. More often choosing fabulous locations, set design and attire over realism, charm or originality, "The Tourist" mostly feels like walking through a very expensive store where you can't buy or touch anything and that distance keeps the film from ever truly taking off.

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