The Playlist

Exclusive: Humanity And The Law Come Together In Clip From Sundance Documentary 'Watchers Of The Sky'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 21, 2014 2:06 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Watchers Of The Sky
The horror of genocide simply can't be put into words. An unspeakable act, it leaves its mark across generations, reverberating through history as a stamp of supreme evil. But can justice be found for those marked by such brutal acts of violence? One lawyer thought so and forever laid the groundwork that would allow the Nuremberg trials to happen, along with the formation of the International Criminal Court.

Sundance Review: Absorbing & Memorable Noir ‘Cold In July’ Starring Michael C. Hall, Sam Shepard & Don Johnson

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 21, 2014 12:32 PM
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  • 5 Comments
Cold in July
Give filmmaker Jim Mickle credit; just when you think you’ve got a handle on his ever-evolving pulpy noir thriller “Cold In July,” the movie snakes sinisterly in abruptly twisting directions. The director behind the celebrated (but uneven) cannibal movie “We Are What We Are,” and the vampire indie “Stake Land,” Mickle certainly has a proclivity for dark and bloody genre films with intense horror tropes, and “Cold In July” evinces much of those affinities.

25 Movies That Defined The Sundance Film Festival

  • By The Playlist Staff
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  • January 21, 2014 12:05 PM
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  • 14 Comments
25 Movies That Defined The Sundance Film Festival
As you might have noticed from the wall-to-wall level of coverage over the last week or so, the Sundance Film Festival has grown considerably from its humble beginnings back in 1978, when it was inaugurated as the Utah/US Film Festival and had a remit to showcase exclusively American-made independent films, and to promote filmmaking in the region. Robert Redford's involvement as a guiding patron led to its name change in 1981, from which point on it expanded gradually, until a kind of Cambrian explosion occurred with the arrival of "sex lies & videotape " 25 years ago this, a film that, with only a touch of hyperbole, could be said to have remade the festival into the modern titan it is today.

Sundance Review: Terrence Malick Produced ‘The Better Angels’ Starring Jason Clarke, Diane Kruger & Brit Marling

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 21, 2014 11:16 AM
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  • 13 Comments
The Better Angels
Working closely under the tutelage of Terrence Malick for several years now, editor and second-unit director turned writer/director A.J. Edwards (who has worked on "The New World," "The Tree of Life" and "To the Wonder"), might have been better advised to get out from under the shadow of his mentor for his feature-length debut, “The Better Angels,” which is content to bask adoringly under the silhouette of his teacher. Perhaps intended as loving homage, the film instead borders deeply on self-serious parody, practically utilizing a checklist of every stylistic trope Edwards’ cinematic guru uses – hushed ponderous voiceovers about the nature of life; a gliding camera; intrusive, dancing wide-angle shots; jump cuts; dancing in fields – and one by one employing them all without a trace of ironic self-awareness.

Sundance Review: Zombie Rom Com 'Life After Beth' Starring Aubrey Plaza & Dane DeHaan

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 21, 2014 10:21 AM
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  • 5 Comments
Life After Beth, Aubrey Plaza
In the last decade, left-of-center zombies have become so ubiquitous that we’re bordering on critical mass, with as many spoofs being released as straight-ahead horror renditions. As with anything reaching its cultural saturation point, it’s the singer, not the song, as the results have been all over the spectrum, from the brilliant (“Shaun of the Dead”) to the forgettable (“Warm Bodies”). Despite some fine talent both behind and in front of the camera, “Life After Beth” has trouble distinguishing itself from the army of flesh-eating peers. The film starts promisingly, opening with a foreboding shot of a girl wandering through Griffith Park, scored with ominous guitar squalls courtesy of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, who compose the film’s atmospheric score. As brief an introduction as it may be, it sets the tone for a film much weirder and more interesting than the one that follows.

Sundance Review: ‘The Sleepwalker’ Starring Brady Corbet Is An Unsettling Look At Family Dysfunction & Secrets

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 21, 2014 9:21 AM
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  • 5 Comments
The Sleepwalker
In sleepy rural Massachusetts, the illusory nature of domestic bliss fractures easily like the first frost of a winter chill. 20-somethings Kaia (Gitte Witt) and her boyfriend Andrew (ex “Girls” star Christopher Abbott) live a quiet life, renovating her late father’s isolated and modern estate. If famed architect Le Corbusier once said “the home should be the treasure chest of living,” then the structural marvel that is this domicile is more of a hollowed out trunk that contains plenty of dark skeletons. Beautiful on the outside, the inside is gutted and much repair needs doing.

Sundance Review: Documentary 'Sepideh' An Inspiring Observation Of One Young Woman's Otherworldly Dreams

  • By Katie Walsh
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  • January 20, 2014 6:10 PM
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  • 0 Comments
SEPIDEH—Reaching for the Stars
There seems to be a minor theme emerging in certain circles of documentary filmmaking recently, of women making films about young girls doing remarkable things (maybe this is just because I just reviewed “Maidentrip,” but clearly it’s on the brain in one way or another). This is a good thing. The stories of these inspiring young women illustrate for us why feminism is needed, what it has already done to pave the way for these girls to dream big, and the possibilities that are contained within their unrestrained ambition. It’s exhilarating, frankly. The documentary, “Sepideh—Reaching For the Stars,” is an example of why capturing these dreams, and the continued struggles that young women in the world face for simply having dreams, is an important locus for documentary filmmaking.

Sundance Review: Heartbreaking ‘Web Junkie’ A Look At The Chinese Health Crisis Of Internet Addiction

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • January 20, 2014 5:08 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Web Junkie
The opening moments of “Web Junkies” are bewildering and surreal: we see a bunch of young Chinese boys stomping around what appear to be military barracks. A title card says that this is the Daxing Boot Camp, in a suburb of Beijing. The camera focuses in on one young boy, still in his room, looking out at the others through a metallic mesh. The boy is sobbing. Someone asks one of the boys what they did to get to this place, and the boy responds, “I used the Internet.” A few moments later, on-screen text reveals that China is the first country in the world to recognize Internet addiction as a national health crisis, with the government setting up more than 400 “rehabilitation camps” for Chinese youth. This is one of those camps. And it is horrible.

Sundance Review: Adam Wingard's 'The Guest' Is A Thriller Throwback That's A Damn Good Time

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 20, 2014 4:04 PM
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  • 0 Comments
"The Guest"
We open on a man jogging, glimpsing him only from behind. Though we can’t see his face, we can see he jogs with purpose. Then, a title card slams down over a blaring synth with '70s “The Exorcist”-style lettering, and moments later we fade in on a field with a scarecrow wearing a gigantic pumpkin head grin. In the space of about 60 seconds, “You’re Next” filmmakers Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett have already announced their mission statement: a mysterious stranger, an unstoppable force and a Halloween setting signal to the audience (pretty much anyone who grew up in the VHS era), you are about to have a damn good time. A concept hatched after an accidental double-feature of “The Terminator” and “Halloween,” “The Guest” is the perfect synthesis of Cameron, Carpenter and Cannon [Films] and one of the most fun films at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance Review: Mike Cahill's Heady, Deeply Moving ‘I Origins’ Starring Michael Pitt & Brit Marling

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 20, 2014 3:09 PM
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  • 3 Comments
I Origins
2011, the year of actress Brit Marling, also introduced the world of cinema to two promising filmmakers: “The Sound Of My Voice” director Zal Batmanjali and “Another Earth” filmmaker Mike Cahill. Marling starred and co-wrote both heady and high concept indie efforts and her rocket soon took off. Fox Searchlight picked up both films and Batmanjali was soon making his intriguing follow-up “The East.” Skeptics were a little less convinced about “Another Earth,” which featured an admittedly excellent concept but was sometimes limited by its budget and presentation in execution. However, those that sensed great promise should be thrilled to see it fulfilled in “I Origins,” Cahill’s powerful Sundance follow-up.

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