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The Playlist

SXSW '12 Review: 'Sinister' Starring Ethan Hawke Is A Satisfying Old-School Horror, But Lacks Resonance

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • March 11, 2012 8:18 AM
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  • 2 Comments
As a horror movie that’s incredibly effective and yet evaporates pretty quickly once it’s over, Scott Derrickson’s “Sinister” defines the difference between "scary" and "haunting." Truthfully it’s a balance of a lot of things – ghost story versus murder mystery, found-footage “realism” versus pure fiction, theatricality versus raw emotion – but it exemplifies an era in which audiences, much less filmmakers, no longer distinguish between suspense and terror, which is why their payoffs work twice as brilliantly but linger half as long. Overproduced but occasionally deeply powerful, “Sinister” is a satisfying old-school thrill ride whose muscle eventually overpowers its brain.

SXSW '12 Review: Director Jay Chandrasekhar's Tentative Sincerity Steps Undermined In Uneven, Sophomoric 'Babymakers'

  • By Todd Gilchrist
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  • March 11, 2012 12:23 AM
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  • 1 Comment
If you thought that “Knocked Up” was too mature a take on impending fatherhood, then “Babymakers” just might be the movie for you. Directed by Jay Chandrasekhar, it follows the comical misadventures of a husband who is reluctant to discover whether or not his sperm is “confused” – and if so, how he’ll handle getting his wife pregnant. Marginally more sophisticated than Chandrasekhar’s efforts with the comedy troupe Broken Lizard, “Babymakers” starts off solidly before getting sidetracked by set pieces that take over the entire narrative – and ultimately reveal how little of one there was in the first place.

SXSW '12 Review: Todd Rohal's Third Feature 'Nature Calls' Is A Dull, Droning Wrong Number

  • By James Rocchi
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  • March 10, 2012 10:37 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Curiously squandering an immensely talented cast, Todd Rohal's "Nature Calls," written when the writer-director lived in Austin, had more humor and humanity and life in its 10-minute post-screening talk here at SXSW than it showed in its previous 98-minute running time. Starring Patton Oswalt and Johnny Knoxville as brothers -- in clear refutation of all we know about genetics -- "Nature Calls" pits Oswalt's dedicated scoutmaster, eager to take his scoutmaster father on one last camping trip, against Knoxville's black sheep son. You can imagine this premise leading to all kinds of hilarity.

SXSW '12: Joss Whedon Talks Challenges of The 'Avengers,' Potentially Resurrecting Old Horror Epic 'Goners,' And How 'Cabin In The Woods' Came To Be

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 10, 2012 4:03 PM
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  • 4 Comments
Today at South by Southwest, there was a panel with "Cabin in the Woods" director Joss Whedon (the screening the night before brought the house down – Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford were still talking about it today!), wherein the fan favorite writer/director talked about his intentions for the film, why he fled the Hollywood system (for at the very least distanced himself to the point where he's working parallel to it), the state of his big budget horror movie "Goners," the pluses and minuses of working with an inflated budget, and his personal little art film, "The Avengers."

SXSW '12 Review: 'The Cabin In The Woods' Is A Smart, Witty Blast For Genre Fans

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 9, 2012 9:45 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Almost no genre (bar perhaps the romantic-comedy) revolves around formula as heavily as the horror film. Obviously there are sub-categories: the haunted-house film, the zombie flick, the vampire movie. But a disproportionate amount of the involves a group of horny teens going to a remote location, taking off clothes, making stupid decisions, and getting picked off one by one, whether by a man in a mask, or by some kind of supernatural creature or force. So on hearing the title, and indeed basic premise, of "The Cabin In The Woods," it's hard not to be a little downhearted. Is this the same old cheapo horror flick we've seen dozens, if not hundreds of times?

SXSW '12 Review: 'Electrick Children' An Offbeat Indie With A Trio Of Charming Young Leads

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • March 9, 2012 9:01 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Opening the Generation section of the 2012 Berlinale, which is designed to promote films for, by and/or about young people, we honestly weren't sure what to expect from "Electrick Children," the debut film from writer/director Rebecca Thomas. Colour us pleasantly surprised then to discover that the film is a genuinely enjoyable coming of age tale that compensates, and then some, for its narrative shortcomings with the winningness of the three central performances, from Rory Culkin, Liam Aiken and a luminous Julia Garner. It's really Garner's movie, and young though she is, she imbues a role that could easily have come across as prissy or doltish with a perfect combination of sweetness, naivete and stubbornness that sells even the less convincing nooks and crannies of the story.

Exclusive SXSW Clip: 'Charles Bradley: Soul Of America' Promises An Engrossing Tale Of A Late-Life Music Career

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 9, 2012 5:47 PM
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  • 1 Comment
If you haven't heard the name Charles Bradley, chances are, by the end of SXSW you will. If you're looking for a moving documentary that will also have you tapping your toes, "Charles Bradley: Soul Of America" might just fit the bill.

Exclusive SXSW Clip: Lukas Haas Has A Gift For Madeline Zima In 'Crazy Eyes'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 9, 2012 5:26 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Things are rolling and underway in Austin as the SXSW Film Festival kicks off. Cinephiles, press and everyone else are faced with a plethora of films over the next week, all hoping to snag their attention, and director Adam Sherman will be in town with his sophomore effort "Crazy Eyes."

10 SXSW Soundtracks To Look Out For Including Scores By Members Of Pearl Jam, Vampire Weekend, Menomena, Tortoise & More

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 8, 2012 2:31 PM
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  • 1 Comment
SXSW is barely 24 hours away from starting (catch up with part one and part two of our preview pieces here), and at this point, it's important to be reminded that one of the things that makes it unique is a particular focus on the crossover between music and film, something that's been a particular interest of ours since the very earliest days of The Playlist. It doesn't just have a whole sidebar dedicated to music documentaries (with this year's batch including films around LCD Soundsystem, Paul Simon and Big Star), and a music festival that runs alongside, but it also seems to attract a disproportionate number of scores by indie and rock musicians to its fictional entries.

15 Most Anticipated Films Of SXSW 2012: From Will Ferrell In Spanish To The Lost Duplass Bros. Movie & More

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 6, 2012 3:03 PM
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  • 3 Comments
While Sundance still gets the headlines, the last few years have seen the film strand of South By Southwest, the Austin, Texas cultural conference, become just as vital to the movie world as Robert Redford's baby. The past few festivals alone witnessed some of the best movies of their respective years debut, from low-budget indies like "The Puffy Chair," "Beeswax," "Tiny Furniture" and "Cold Weather" to more mainstream fare like "I Love You Man," "Adventureland" and "Bridesmaids," to international genre hits like "Kill List," "Attack The Block" and "Monsters."

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