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The Playlist

Sundance Review: 'Concerning Violence' An Intelligent, Bracing Look At The Dynamics Of Colonial Power

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 24, 2014 3:47 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Concerning Violence
When psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon published "The Wretched Of The Earth" in 1961, it was immediately banned in France, and given the provocative nature of the text perhaps it's not a surprise. The quote of above is just one of many viewpoints Fanon presents in his book without compromise, with the author taking the position that an oppressed and/or occupied people will eventually push back against their oppressors/occupiers, and that this isn't so much a decision as it is a (justifiable) inevitability.

Sundance Review: 'Rudderless' Is A Remarkable Directorial Debut From William H. Macy

  • By Chase Whale
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  • January 24, 2014 2:45 PM
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  • 11 Comments
Rudderless
So let it be known throughout the land: William H. Macy has balls of steel. In addition to juggling a busy, successful film and television career, he’s taken on a new role -- filmmaker. His first feature film, “Rudderless”, is a poignant story that explores finding happiness in the midst of loss and pain. And you know what? It’s really damn good.

Sundance Review: ‘Dear White People’ Is A Sharp Satire That Still Cares About Character

  • By James Rocchi
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  • January 24, 2014 1:53 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Dear White People
Written and directed by Justin Simien, “Dear White People” pulls off a surprising number of things with startling ability. It’s an American film that talks about race with strong feeling, common sense and good humor; it’s an indie screenwriting-directing debut as polished as it is provocative; it’s a satire that also lets its characters be people; it’s a showcase of clever craft and direction as well as whip-smart comedic writing brought to life by a dedicated, charismatic cast that also conveys real ideas and emotion. It’s precisely the kind of first film you want to see at Sundance—brash, bold, beautiful and where the few minor flaws can’t overwhelm your appreciation of this film or stop your enthusiasm for the prospect of the next one.

Sundance Review: ‘Obvious Child’ Takes on Love, Abortion and Stand-Up Insecurity

  • By James Rocchi
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  • January 24, 2014 1:02 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Obvious Child
Premiering at Sundance, “Obvious Child” is about would-be stand-up Donna Stern (Jenny Slate) and her decisions when a one-night stand results in an ill-timed unwanted pregnancy. “Obvious Child” began as a short in 20009, then hunted for crowdfunding, got it, and resulted in this feature-length Sundance 2014 debut for writer-director Gillian Robespierre. It’d be easy to make a crass joke about how, for a film about abortion, “Obvious Child” has had an unexpectedly long gestation period. That’s also about the only crass joke “Obvious Child” doesn’t make, but it’s also worth noting that despite its fearlessness and fake-tough bravado, the film never takes its circumstances or consequences lightly; Slate’s Donna Stern is cracking wise because if she didn’t, she’d probably just crack.

Sundance Review: ‘Low Down’ Starring Elle Fanning, John Hawkes, Glenn Close & Lena Headey

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 24, 2014 12:01 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Low Down
Evincing a similar mustard brown aesthetic and destitute mood—spiritually, emotionally and psychologically—Sundance indie, “Low Down” is to 1970s jazz, what John Huston’s “Fat City” is to that era of boxing: a down and out look at talented three-time losers that can’t get past their addictions, demons and terribly self-destructive qualities. But unlike Huston’s Stacy Keach pugilist drama (admittedly uneven, but still fascinating), “Low Down” is interminably depressing and features an indolent pace that would embarrass any musician looking to engage.

Interview: Jake Paltrow On How Spielberg & Anime Inspired 'Young Ones,' Starring Michael Shannon & Elle Fanning

  • By Kristin McCracken
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  • January 24, 2014 11:00 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Young Ones, Jake Paltrow
Part western, part science fiction, wholly original—it’s not easy to pin down — writer/director Jake Paltrow’s latest film, “Young Ones,” which premiered this week at the Sundance Film Festival (read our review here), is worth an examination.

Interview: Brady Corbet & Mona Fastvold Talk The Moody Sundance Discovery 'The Sleepwalker'

  • By Kristin McCracken
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  • January 24, 2014 10:05 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The Sleepwalker
Sundance is a place for discovery, where new talent can shine in front of an audience hungry for revelation. With their new film “The Sleepwalker,” co-screenwriters Mona Fastvold and Brady Corbet (she directs, he stars) have auspiciously debuted their creative partnership, which is already three screenplays deep. (He will direct their next feature, “The Childhood of a Leader,” starring Robert Pattinson, Tim Roth and Juliette Binoche, later this year, and a third project will follow.)

Legacies: Steven Soderbergh's Revolutionary 'Sex Lies And Videotape' 25 Years Later

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • January 23, 2014 7:07 PM
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  • 4 Comments
sex lies and videotape
“I’m a little concerned by what ‘sex, lies’ might have wrought here,’ said Steven Soderbergh at the 1990 Sundance Film Festival, proving even at 27 to be, aside from a promising filmmaker, an unusually thoughtful and prescient commentator on the wider industry. This was scarcely a year after his debut feature had unassumingly premiered at the festival and irrevocably changed the face of the movie world, and already then the sleepy, retrospectively genteel-feeling festival of yore had unmistakably begun its rapid evolution into the titan it is today; a quick glance at our coverage of this year’s Sundance alone can tell you just how far it’s come, in terms of media profile, business activity, not to mention sheer volume of films.

Interview: Aaron Paul On 'Hellion' Breakout Star Josh Wiggins: “I Was Learning From Him In My Audition”

  • By Kristin McCracken
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  • January 23, 2014 3:25 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Aaron Paul, Hellion
Among the glitz and overloaded chaos of Sundance, breakout stars emerge, fueling the reputation of the festival’s force as a discovery engine. This year, one of the most talked-about young actors is 15-year-old Josh Wiggins, who stars alongside Aaron Paul in director Kat Candler’s feature debut “Hellion.”

Sundance Review: ‘Kumiko The Treasure Hunter’ Is An Odd, Formally Striking Delight

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 23, 2014 1:42 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter
Living in a cramped Tokyo apartment while holding down an unfulfilling job, the lonely and disenchanted Kumiko yearns for something deeper in her life. Much of her alienation stems from the weight of expectations around her. An “OL” (office lady) for a Japanese businessman, she mechanically goes through the motions of her job fetching him tea and dropping off and picking up his laundry. Quieter, and thus odder, than everyone else, Kumiko unfortunately stands out. Her fussy thinks it’s strange that a 29-year-old woman does not have a fiancé, husband or children and notes that by 30, most OLs have gone on to other careers. Does she have bigger plans? Is she thinking about her future? For the largely stuck-in-a-rut Kumiko, these are difficult questions not only to answer, but to address for herself.

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