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The Playlist

Interview: Jason Schwartzman & Alex Ross Perry Discuss Misanthrophy Of 'Listen Up Philip'

  • By Kristin McCracken
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  • January 27, 2014 1:08 PM
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  • 1 Comment
One of the most buzzed-about films at Sundance last week was Alex Ross Perry’s latest, “Listen Up Philip,” starring Jason Schwartzman as a misanthropic novelist without a filter in what’s being called “his best role since 'Rushmore' " (read our A-grade review here).The stellar cast is rounded out by Elisabeth Moss as Philip’s long-suffering girlfriend, Jonathan Pryce as his egotist-author role model (based, most likely, on Philip Roth), and a string of past and potential paramours (Dree Hemingway, Joséphine de La Baume, Kate Lyn Sheil). Even the peripheral acting by Krysten Ritter and Jess Weixler is first-rate, allowing Perry’s work to shine like it never has before.

Sundance Review: Dark Dramedy 'The Skeleton Twins' Starring Kristen Wiig & Bill Hader

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 27, 2014 12:08 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Skeleton Twins, Bill Hader, Kristen Wiig
For whatever reason, comedians have never gotten the same respect as their dramatic counterparts — that is, until they take on more serious material. The road to respect is littered with actors making the transition from comedy to drama (think Steve Carell in "Little Miss Sunshine" or Bill Murray in "Broken Flowers") and latest pair to cross over are former-”SNL” stars Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader, who both deliver impressive turns as a pair of depressive siblings in the dramedy “The Skeleton Twins.” Centering on Maggie (Wiig) and Milo (Hader), the film opens with their concurrent, unsuccessful, suicide attempts. Maggie is a dental assistant living in the small New York town she grew up in, while Milo is a struggling actor in LA whose recent breakup sent him off the deep end.

Sundance Review: 'God's Pocket' Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Turturro & Christina Hendricks

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 27, 2014 10:05 AM
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  • 0 Comments
God’s Pocket,
In God’s Pocket, a small town in Pennsylvania where everybody knows everybody’s business, it wouldn’t be uncommon to look out your window and see a man with one leg digging through the trash. Unfortunately, the same is also true of “God’s Pocket,” a morbid, 1970’s-set bummer of a film that strands its talented cast with less-than-deserving material. The film opens with a funeral and a fight, then quickly flashes back to three days prior where we’re formally introduced to Mickey, (a beleaguered Philip Seymour Hoffman), a low-level crook and one of the few residents of the insular town not to be born there. Along with his co-horts (played by John Turturro and “The Wire” star Domenick Lombardozzi), Mickey’s daily routine involves stealing meat trucks, gambling or getting wasted at the local watering hole.

Sundance Review: Dock Ellis Baseball Doc 'No No' A Delightful Trip Around The Bases

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • January 26, 2014 2:03 PM
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  • 0 Comments
No No: A Dockumentary
On June 12th, 1970, a pitcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates named Dock Ellis, known for his oversized personality on and off the diamond, threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres. A no-hitter is defined by a team not being able to earn a single hit and it’s a pretty phenomenal feat, with only 282 no-hitters having been thrown in Major League Baseball since 1875. But what makes this particular no-no even more astounding is that Ellis, who up until that time was most notorious for wearing tiny hair curlers in his fro during practice (and subsequently being forced to remove said curlers), was high on LSD for the entire game. This is the starting point for the delightful new documentary “No No: A Dockumentary,” which, while focusing a fair amount of time on this particular game, also goes to great lengths to show you the other sides of Ellis—as a ballplayer and human being.

Sundance Review: 'The One I Love' Starring Elizabeth Moss & Mark Duplass

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 26, 2014 10:02 AM
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  • 2 Comments
The One I Love
At first blush, "The One I Love" appears to be just the latest standard operating relationship dramedy to pass through Sundance. But while the relationship at the center of the film is the engine that drives the narrative, there are much more mysterious things going on under the hood. The film centers on Ethan (Mark Duplass) and Sophie (Elisabeth Moss), a couple currently experiencing a rough patch in their marriage.

Sundance Review: ‘Imperial Dreams’ Features A Knockout Performance From 'Attack the Block' Star John Boyega

  • By Chase Whale
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  • January 26, 2014 9:51 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Imperial Dreams, John Boyega
There’s always at least one hidden treasure at Sundance that seems to go unnoticed by audiences and critics alike—with no real good answer as to why the buzz wasn’t loud enough to get more people talking about it—but it happens. This year, that gem is Malik Vitthal’s first shot at a feature film, the incredibly touching “Imperial Dreams,” which remixes the gangster rites of passage: you can take the gangster out of the hood, but can you take the hood out of the gangster?

The 2014 Sundance Film Festival Awards: 'Whiplash' Starring Miles Teller Wins Top Prizes

  • By The Playlist
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  • January 26, 2014 2:32 AM
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  • 2 Comments
The 2014 Sundance Film Festival awards are in. We'd provide greater context, but we're really tired, plus we hope you've been reading our reviews and learning a little bit along the way. If not, stay tuned for Monday when we do a much larger Sundance recap from everything we saw, plus an upcoming Sundance-centric podcast.

Sundance Review: David Wain's 'They Came Together' Gives Assembly-Line Rom-Coms A Brisk, Bruising Rebuttal

  • By James Rocchi
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  • January 25, 2014 5:04 PM
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  • 2 Comments
They Came Together
A parody that loves, knows and understands what it’s mocking, David Wain’s “They Came Together” (co-written with Michael Showalter) lovingly nuzzles up to the plots, clichés and tropes of the modern big-studio rom-com specifically, only to then slash at the jugular to spill their anemic, overly sweet blood. It knows how to mock cliché big things, like jokes about set-dressing and music video montages; it’s also wise about small matters, right down to the font and the framing device.

Sundance Review: Gregg Araki’s 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Starring Shailene Woodley, Eva Green & More

  • By Chase Whale
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  • January 25, 2014 3:24 PM
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  • 8 Comments
By now, devoted cinephiles likely know what to expect going into a Gregg Araki movie: sex-crazed teens, an overabundance of nudity (sometimes pretty, sometimes not), a dream-like story wrapped snugly in a nightmare and a killer soundtrack. However, it would be lazy for someone to call it trash cinema—there’s a lot of feeling in his films (please watch "Mysterious Skin" now). Araki is a brilliant director who finds a great deal of meaning in stories of teenage angst and sexual desire, and is perhaps the finest example of coming-of-rage cinema. His latest film, "White Bird in a Blizzard," is his most grownup film to date, but never deviates far from his comfort zone.

Sundance Review: ‘War Story’ Starring Catherine Keener, Hafsia Herzi & Ben Kingsley

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 25, 2014 2:13 PM
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  • 1 Comment
War Story
What is behind the desire to punish an audience? Truthfully, few filmmakers besides Michael Haneke maybe intentionally want to torture viewers (at least I think), but many dark and depressing indie movies attempting to explore the condition of suffering can often feel excruciating. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a grim and sad narratives – a so-called “miserablist” movie I love is “Bitiful” and last year’s bleak “Sunshine Jr.” had a lot of value. These emotions are part of our existence, shouldn’t be shied away from and must be examined. But what is the value when a movie wallows in these kinds of dire feelings and never illuminates the human condition beyond the superficial notion that grief is difficult? What then?

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