The Playlist

Sundance Review: Nick Cave Docudrama '20,000 Days On Earth'

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 23, 2014 11:26 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Though he’s never been a superstar, after four decades of making music there is no question that Nick Cave is a legend. Singer, songwriter and occasional composer, Cave has been playing in bands since he was in his teens, from his post-punk group The Birthday Party, to his back-to-basics side project Grinderman, to his solo work to his band for over 30 years, The Bad Seeds. Though his music has only ever crossed over into the mainstream a few times (the soundtrack staple “Red Right Hand” and Kylie Minogue duet “Where The Wild Roses Grow”), he has nevertheless amassed an army of dedicated fans all over the world. The new documentary “20,000 Days On Earth” is neither the career retrospective or concert film you might, but rather a snapshot of the musician, now 57, still trying to connect with his muse.

Sundance Review: Aaron Katz & Martha Stephens’ ‘Land Ho!’ Is A Charming Minor Work

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 22, 2014 3:26 PM
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  • 2 Comments
Land Ho!
Disenchanted, though you wouldn’t know it at first, the lively and unruly Mitch is aware that his favorite ex-brother-in-law—the mild mannered Colin—is in the dumps following the demise of his second marriage. Having recently retired from life as a doctor, Mitch drops by to tell Colin he has a surprise: an all-expenses paid trip to Iceland. Colin attempts to politely decline, content with moping around, but Mitch won’t take no for an answer, and much to his chagrin he is soon packing his bags for Reykjavik. Hitting luxury hotels, trendy hot spots, beautiful spas, fancy restaurants, relaxing hot springs and some of the beautiful and exotic sights of Iceland, Mitch and Colin catch up, renew their old friendship and discuss the obstacles they’ve faced in life while trying to make sense of it all. For the introverted Aussie that is Colin, that kind of introspection is not always healthy. For the Kentucky-drawling, skirt-chasing Mitch, it's simply “doobification” time (eg. smoking copious joints).

Sundance Review: ‘Song One’ Starring Anne Hathaway With Music By Jenny Lewis & Johnathan Rice

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 22, 2014 2:30 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Song One
In two different parts of the world, two estranged siblings go on with their lives. The brother is a passionate busker and would-be pro musician spending time singing his heart out in New York subways. The elder sister is in Africa, researching nomadic tribes in Morocco for her PhD. But one fateful night, a critical error in judgment will reunites them: Henry (Ben Rosenfeld from “Boardwalk Empire”) is in a coma after an accident and following an emergency call from his mother (Mary Steenburgen), Frannie (Anne Hathaway) drops everything to be by his side.

Sundance Review: John Michael McDonagh’s ‘Calvary’ Starring Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd & Kelly Reilly

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 22, 2014 1:20 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Something black and acidic runs through the veins of those McDonagh brothers; there’s just something not quite right with these lads...and thank goodness for that. Playwright and younger sibling Martin McDonagh made a splash in Ireland’s theater scene with his hilarious, tart, pitch-black plays and then impressed film audiences with two wicked black comedies (“In Bruges” and “Seven Psychopaths”). Older bro John Michael McDonagh possesses a similar talent, and an ear for devilish dialogue, and having penned “Ned Kelly,” he made his feature-length debut with the cheeky, underrated black comedy “The Guard” (underrated internationally, that is; the film is the most successful Irish film of all time in Ireland). If you don’t know these guys, you need to remedy that immediately.

Sundance Review: Gareth Evans' ‘The Raid 2’ Improves On The Action In A Follow-Up That’s Both Lesser And Longer

  • By James Rocchi
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  • January 22, 2014 12:25 PM
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  • 3 Comments
When “The Raid” started on the festival circuit in 2011 in Toronto, it was a bloody blast of fresh air, with incredible action sequences throughout an energetically and expressively shot film with amazing stunt work and bone-crushing fight scenes captured with fluid camerawork, long takes and a giddy sense of the new. Last night, the Sundance premiere of “The Raid 2” presented filmgoers with a mix of good news—indeed, great news—and bad in that the fights, action and stunt choreography in the sequel are all a quantum leap forward thanks to the tireless and exhausting work of writer-director-editor Gareth Edwards and his leading man Iko Uwais, who also designed the fight choreography alongside Yaya Ruhian.

Watch: Every Cliché Of Sundance Movies Compiled In One Trailer

  • By Ben Brock
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  • January 22, 2014 11:18 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Sundance Cliche
If you've been within a hundred miles of our site lately, you might just have noticed that Sundance is on: the good, the bad and the indie have been living it up in Utah (as far as is possible, given, well, Utah), and occasionally seeing a movie or two as well.

Sundance Review: Terrific & Remarkable ‘Listen Up Philip’ Starring Jason Schwartzman & Elisabeth Moss

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 22, 2014 11:05 AM
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  • 11 Comments
Even the simplest melody can sound marvelous when played by a virtuoso, and in cinema, it’s amazing what well-trained, naturally gifted professional actors can do to with even basic material. Just look at the gigantic gulf between early Joe Swanberg movies featuring unrehearsed amateurs and his more recent, creatively successful films starring professionals: there’s a world of difference. Similarly, Alex Ross Perry’s terrific third feature, “Listen Up Philip,” is a quantum leap forward from his last feature, the micro-indie “The Color Wheel,” and it’s thanks in large part to great actors making the excellent script really sing.

Sundance Review: Roger Ebert Doc 'Life Itself' A Profoundly Moving Story About One Of Cinema’s Greatest Superheroes

  • By Chase Whale
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  • January 22, 2014 10:04 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Life Itself
Without question, Roger Ebert is the most recognizable figure in American film criticism, possibly even international criticism, and deservingly so. Ebert helped curious minds alive today better understand movies and what they were trying to say, moving past the obvious and always finding something deeper. "Life Itself" is based on Ebert's memoir of the same name, but the film goes far beyond the book's last page. This documentary actually started shooting months before Ebert knew he was going to die, and the bulk of the focus is on his many relentless and rigorous battles to stay alive, as well as highs and lows in his life—there’s no soft-pedaling here. One very admirable trait about Ebert—when he learned he was going to die, and very soon, he wanted the show to go on.

Sundance Review: Devastating Doc 'The Overnighters' A Humane Look At Compassion & The American Dream

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • January 21, 2014 6:06 PM
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  • 4 Comments
The Overnighters
The latest documentary from filmmaker Jesse Moss, “The Overnighters” contains, much, much more than meets the eye. It’s a film that seems to be about one serious issue—the overflow of men looking for work in oil-rich North Dakota—but is actually about morality, consequence, and the choices we make. It’s almost hard to put this film into words, its devastating effect lasting long after it has ended.

Sundance Review: 'Battered Bastards Of Baseball' Tells The Story Of Kurt Russell's Father's Raucous Adventures On The Field

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • January 21, 2014 5:08 PM
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  • 0 Comments
The Battered Bastards Of Baseball
One of the fine traditions in American film is the great sports story, and the doc “The Battered Bastards of Baseball” is located right at the place where Hollywood slides into home plate, combining the two worlds in a real-life tale that is almost too good to be true. ‘Battered Bastards’ tells the story of Hollywood vet Bing Russell, father of Kurt, a serious baseball fan who made a go of it in the Portland minor leagues in the 1970s, starting up the independent baseball club The Portland Mavericks. The resulting film is the documentary version of sports classics like “Slapshot” and “Major League,” where a rag-tag, quirky bunch of outliers manage against all odds to inject their sport with a sense of high-spirited fun and anarchy.

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