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The Playlist

SXSW '12 Review: 'Somebody Up There Likes Me' A Surprisingly Ambitious Deadpan Charmer

  • By William Goss
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  • March 13, 2012 5:36 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Bob Byington’s "Somebody Up There Likes Me" is about a guy who doesn’t grow up. In fact, he doesn’t even age over the film’s span of about three decades in his life. It may have something to do with a mysterious briefcase, the origins of which are only ever suggested by animated cloud interludes and the ethereal implications of the title itself. But that hardly matters, so long as Max (Keith Poulson) keeps bumbling through marriage, money and mortality.

SXSW '12 Interview: 'Frankie Go Boom' Director Jordan Roberts On The Inspiration Behind Putting Ron Perlman In A Dress

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 13, 2012 1:57 PM
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  • 1 Comment
We weren't sure what to expect of "Frankie Go Boom," the sophomore directorial feature from director Jordan Roberts. There were the helmer's diverse previous credits, from directing ensemble dramedy "Around The Bend," which starred Christopher Walken, Michael Caine and Josh Lucas, to writing the narration for the hit documentary "March of the Penguins." Then there was the film itself: with cast members like Chris O'Dowd and Lizzy Caplan, it seemed like it could be a post-Apatow comedy, but then came that teaser poster, of Ron Perlman in a dress. What on Earth was this thing?

SXSW '12 Interview: Matthew McConaughey & Tracy Letts Talk Working With William Friedkin & NC-17 Rating For 'Killer Joe'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 13, 2012 1:05 PM
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  • 0 Comments
"Killer Joe" is a film primed to mark a comeback for its director and star. Not only has William Friedkin made his best movie in decades with the sordid Texan crime tale, but Matthew McConaughey continues to add to his recent renaissance of fascinating work that has seen him team with with filmmakers like Richard Linklater, Steven Soderbergh and Jeff Nichols.

SXSW '12 Review: Weird & Sometimes Confusing 'John Dies At The End' Is Still An Odd & Engaging Genre Treat

  • By John Lichman
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  • March 13, 2012 10:59 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The problem addressing fans of “Midnight” films and wacky horror can succinctly be found in the opening of Don Coscarelli's “John Dies At The End.” It involves axe handles, zombies, mutant leeches, axe heads, hardware store trips and answering a dead man as to whether or not the axe in question is the same that killed him. Confused? If you are, then you don't want to stick around. If you're too overjoyed that the spiritual successor to Sam Raimi has appeared, you're in luck.

SXSW '12 Review: The Duplass Brothers' 'Do-Deca Pentathlon' Is A Minor Effort That Should Have Remained Buried

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • March 12, 2012 9:43 PM
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  • 4 Comments
It’s always important to keep in mind, while reading reviews, that interpreting art is a deeply personal experience. What might speak to someone on a visceral, emotional level will slide right over another’s head. Or anger them. Or bore them to tears. The third option was the experience of this writer with Mark and Jay Duplass’ “Do-Deca Pentathlon.”

SXSW '12 Review: HBO Series 'Girls' Solidifies Lena Dunham's Place As A Bold New Voice in American Comedy

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 12, 2012 9:25 PM
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  • 10 Comments
As far as young independent filmmakers go, writer/director Lena Dunham has been the subject of an excessive amount of conversation and handwringing, even by the admittedly loose standards of the ever-chatty Internet age. Her first feature, "Creative Nonfiction," was accepted to South by Southwest and the follow-up, "Tiny Furniture," won the Best Narrative Feature award at the same festival. That film also managed to attract quite a bit of attention, with comedy world luminaries like Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow singing its praises and some comparing her confessional, no-nonsense style to the early work of Woody Allen.

SXSW '12 Review: 'See Girl Run' Has A Slightly Too Leisurely Stride

  • By James Rocchi
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  • March 11, 2012 9:40 PM
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  • 4 Comments
There's a fine line between delicacy and fragility, between a gentle unfolding and a stubbornly slow series of revelations. That line is what keeps Nate Meyer's "See Girl Run," a midlife romantic drama, from succeeding as well as the great cinematography and talented cast would have you hope. Robin Tunney's marriage is foundering in familiarity in New York; Adam Scott's relationship and life are stalled and stuck in the town she left behind, even as he draws elegant and joyous frogs and caricatures. So she comes home, to see her parents and her brother, and he sees her. And remembers how much he used to love her. And she remembers, too. But love is not memory, and love is not hope.

SXSW '12 Review: 'Small Apartments' Is An Awkward, Entirely Unsatisfying Mixture Of Sweetness And Filth

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 11, 2012 5:54 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Swedish filmmaker Jonas Åkerlund used to be the kind of director whose every move was worth following. He started out building buzz for his career by making controversial music videos, helming the sensational, barely-seen "Smack My Bitch Up" clip for Prodigy and, way more successfully, the "Ray of Light" music video for Madonna (a clip that won a record seven prizes at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards). Even his lesser videos (like his Cardigans' "Favorite Game" clip) were compelling and vital compared to most pedestrian and run-of-the-mill music videos. Åkerlund's videos were often defined by a willingness to delve into the scuzzier aspects of life (like the Prodigy video and Metallica's "Turn the Page") – visually his style was slick but also grimy, lit up by garish neon lights and high contrast colorization.

SXSW '12 Review: At Its Best, Harmless 'Hunky Dory' Is Just That

  • By William Goss
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  • March 11, 2012 3:43 PM
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  • 0 Comments
It’s the summer of 1976, and between a conservative school administration and an unrelenting drought, things are beyond dry for Wales’ scrappier teens. It’s little wonder that they flock to the more permissive Miss Mae (Minnie Driver) and her glam-rock interpretation of Shakespeare’s "The Tempest" for the school play. Alas, "Hunky Dory" primarily concerns itself with familiar extracurricular woes and offers up much ado about nothing instead of a more rollicking or romantic coming-of-age story.

SXSW '12 Review: Celebrity, Notoriety & Living In Public As 'Frankie Go Boom'

  • By James Rocchi
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  • March 11, 2012 3:10 PM
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  • 1 Comment
"Frankie Go Boom" opens with a home video from a long-ago washed-out suburban childhood, as Bruce tricks his brother Frankie into a pitfall prank that's both caught on tape and a trap for the two of them; flashing forward to adulthood -- or something like it -- Frankie (Charlie Hunnam) has exiled himself from everything, holing up in Death Valley to write. And Bruce (Chris O'Dowd, with a solidly American accent) is just getting out of rehab, convinced that the 'films' he makes -- really, just footage -- of disasters like the one that befell Frankie's wedding three years ago, mean he's a director, what with their huge online 'hit' numbers …

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