The Playlist

Rome Review: Walter Hill's Sylvester Stallone-Starrer 'Bullet To The Head' Is A Blast From The Past

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 14, 2012 7:54 AM
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  • 5 Comments
About as unreconstructed as it's possible to get, Walter Hill's first feature in 10 years, "Bullet to the Head," finds the veteran action director utterly mired in the tropes of the '80s R-rated action film. And we enjoyed the hell out of it. With nothing but the Himalayan crags of Sylvester Stallone's face to suggest the last 30 years of filmmaking ever happened, Hill has -- crafted seems the wrong word -- rammed together an action movie in which the plot is laughable, the quips are quippy and the action nasty -- no graceful, balletic, parkour bullshit here, just guns, fists, explosives and, gloriously, axes. This is gristly, muscly action, Stallone's aging sinews standing up remarkably well to the task of dispatching opponents fleshily against concrete, steel and marble surfaces when he's not simply shooting them.

Rome Review: ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2’ Probably A High Point For The Franchise, Still A Low For Cinema

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 13, 2012 5:58 PM
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  • 20 Comments
The final installment of Stephenie Meyers' 'Twilight Saga' has hit the screen with an audible, if Italian-accented "Squee!" here in its packed hormonal World Premiere at the Rome Film Festival. Destined to make a jillion dollars in its first six minutes of release, the film is already such a juggernaut that voicing an opinion on whether it's any good is a little like examining the fenderwork on the 20-wheeler that's bearing down on you at 100mph: it doesn't matter, because either way, you're going to be flattened. But hardy fools that we Playlisters are, we're going to damn well tell you what we think anyway: "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2" is as thrilling, scary and swooningly romantic as this series gets. But it's still dire.

Rome Review: 'Marfa Girl' Hints At Larry Clark's Possible Evolution As A Filmmaker

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 13, 2012 11:37 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Teenagers fuck, get each other pregnant, fight, take drugs, and are disaffected. So far, so very, very Larry Clark. But “Marfa Girl” which premiered at the Rome Film Festival last night, also foregrounds elements that haven’t historically cropped up quite so regularly in the filmmaker’s back catalog, like race relations, spirituality, and adults defined in ways other than their effect on teens, including, rarest of all, a functional and mutually loving parent/child relationship. It also boasts an intriguing structure whereby you might think it’s business as usual for the first two thirds, until in the final act, tension that you hadn’t really been aware of building comes to a head, almost the way you might expect in a genre film -- a psychological thriller or a horror perhaps -- as the bad guy gets what’s coming to him and the harmonious community is thus exorcised of its chief demon.

Rome Review: French Rom-Com 'Populaire' Is A Chocolate Box Movie - Pretty, Sweet, May Cause Slight Sugar Headache

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 13, 2012 8:27 AM
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  • 2 Comments
The Weinstein Company secured the U.S. distribution rights to “Populaire,” the '50s-set French rom-com that premiered Out of Competition at the Rome Film Festival, back in March, and it’s easy to see why. Boasting a chic, stylized period setting, dotted with bubblegum colors, sharp tailoring and lacquered updos, the film is the kind of undemanding confection that should prove a straightforward transatlantic sell, while its insouciant French-ness adds that bit of class that perhaps its nearest recent U.S. equivalent, “Down With Love,” lacked.

Rome Review: Paul Verhoeven’s Partially Crowdsourced ‘Tricked’ Is A Short, Wickedly Enjoyable Soap Opera

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 10, 2012 4:32 PM
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  • 5 Comments
It’s actually just the tip of an iceberg that encompasses an online component, mobile apps and a TV show in his native Netherlands, but Paul Verhoeven’s 50-minute-long “Tricked” (“Steekspel") provided what the Rome Film Festival so far has rather lacked: sheer entertainment value.

Rome Review: 'Mental' With Toni Collette Is A Watchable Farce That Could Do With Going A Bit More Nuts

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 10, 2012 12:53 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Showing today Out of Competition at the Rome Film Festival, “Mental” marks director P.J. Hogan’s (“My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “Confessions of a Shopaholic”) reunion with his “Muriel’s Wedding” star Toni Collette. The intervening years may have made them both older, but not necessarily wiser, as “Mental” seems content to rework the “Muriel’s Wedding” formula but with greater resources, like a now-established star and a supporting cast of notable Aussie actors (many of whom we had kind of forgotten were Australian) at its disposal. Both films take small-town Australia as their settings, both feature female characters marked by unpopularity and social inadequacy, and both are inspired by, and constantly reference, particular kitschy elements of pop culture -- ‘Muriel’ had Abba, while ‘Mental’ has “The Sound of Music.”

Rome Review: Amos Poe’s ‘A Walk In The Park’ A Confused, Discordant And Ultimately Empty Ordeal

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 10, 2012 10:48 AM
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  • 6 Comments
By the end of “A Walk in the Park” ’s 96 minutes, you will know a lot about Brian Fass. You will know of his various ailments, his depression, his relationship with his mother, the medication he is on, the mountain he nearly climbed, his electroshock therapy and the titular walk in the park that marked some sort of turning point in his life. What you will not know, however, is why on God’s green earth you should care. “A Walk in the Park,” from New York indie director Amos Poe premiered today In Competition at the XXI sidebar of the Rome Film Festival, which is a section dedicated to films of all lengths that “reflect the continuous reinvention of cinema in the contemporary audiovisual landscape.” Sad to report, this film reinvents the documentary portrait tradition into a thoroughly confounding and tiresome experience.

Rome Review: Overlong & Incoherent, Takashi Miike's 'Lesson Of The Evil' Is Sadly More Bore Than Gore

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • November 9, 2012 11:58 AM
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  • 3 Comments
The slasher picture, which is what we suppose this film eventually morphs into, relies on a certain novelty in how our successive victims are offed for us to retain interest -- there should be jumps, scares, the unexpected, the gruesome. But for all its (literal) buckets of blood and fetishistic slo-mo messy deaths ‘Lesson,’ enjoying its World Premiere at the Rome Film Festival, spends its entire last third in an orgy of murder that feels, of all things, rote.

First Look: Dakota Fanning, Emile Hirsch & Stephen Dorff In 'The Motel Life'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • November 7, 2012 12:47 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Nope, the festival season isn't over yet. The Rome Film Festival gets underway this weekend, and our Jessica Kiang will be on the ground fueled on espressos and cinemas to bring us coverage. But before that, we've got a few sneaks at some of the movies coming up, and the first is from "The Motel Life."

8 Minute 'Django Unchained' Preview Planned For Lucca Movie; Rome Premiere Now Rumored For After Festival

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • October 30, 2012 1:41 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Of all the movies to come out before the end of the year, it seems movie bloggers are particularly fixated on Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." Few films coming in the next couple of months have inspired so many tweets and even articles deciphering clues as to just when the press days in New York and Los Angeles are being scheduled, and the slow drip on the movie continues with a brief update on when and where more new footage will appear.

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