The Playlist

Sundance Review: Director Joe Berlinger’s Riveting True Crime Doc ‘Whitey: The United States Vs. James J. Bulger’

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • January 18, 2014 7:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
WHITEY: United States of America v. James J. Bulger
There are few real life criminals alive today who possess the kind of allure and oversized grandeur of James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger. This was a guy who, as a young thug, stoically did time in Alcatraz, and upon his release rose to power in South Boston, eventually running organized crime in the area, uninterrupted, for more than 30 years. On the eve of his arrest he was tipped off and fled, spending 16 years on the run before finally being captured and brought to justice on a host of charges, including his connection to 19 murders (two of which were young women). But what makes Joe Berlinger’s riveting new true crime doc “Whitey: The United States vs. James J. Bulger” such an eye-opener is that it isn’t just about a bad guy who did bad things, but the layers of corruption and moral ambiguity that stacked up on both side of the law.

Sundance Review: Lynn Shelton’s 'Laggies' Starring Keira Knightley, Chloe Moretz & Sam Rockwell

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 18, 2014 2:31 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Laggies
Given that the arrested development subgenre of comedy is chiefly the domain of men and man children, it’s nice to see the field finally tackled from a refreshing female perspective. However, while an admirable vantage point of the trapped in adultlescence genus, “Laggies,” the new film by director Lynn Shelton, is often wildly implausible (even for a comedy), positions its sympathies in questionable places and is a mess of a movie that lands all over the place.

Sundance Review: Bleakness, Anger & Pain Mark 'Hellion' Starring Aaron Paul

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 18, 2014 2:14 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Hellion
It's a somewhat glib, reductive thought, but the archetype of the Sundance indie film (apart from being cutesy and unbearably quirky) often can be summed up in its miserablist bleakness. And if some Park City indies can sometimes be defined by their dark, depressing nature with few rays of hope, "Hellion" may not fit that bill exactly, but it sure comes close.

Sundance Review: Anton Corbijn's 'A Most Wanted Man' Starring Philip Seymour Hoffman, Rachel McAdams & More

  • By Cory Everett
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  • January 18, 2014 11:50 AM
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  • 2 Comments
A Most Wanted Man
As the line between television and film gets blurrier, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish exactly what makes something qualify to be a film at all. Particularly in the age of “Homeland” and “The Americans,” some may leave a slow-burning, understated spy caper like “A Most Wanted Man” wondering if it wouldn’t have been better served as a limited series on Netflix or HBO. And it will be a perfectly valid question. Based on the novel by John le Carré (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”), the film is the new anti-thriller from director Anton Corbijn and centers on the war on terror in Germany via a tapestry of several characters, chiefly Gunther (Philip Seymour Hoffman), a grizzled counter-terrorist intelligence officer stationed in Hamburg after a previous fuck up in Beirut.

Sundance Review: ‘Frank’ Starring Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson & Maggie Gyllenhaal

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • January 18, 2014 11:06 AM
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  • 8 Comments
Frank
Are some diamonds in the rough so special they can only exist on the fringes? When a rare species enters the ecosystem of the mainstream, does its fragile, sensitive needs break down amongst the polluted elements around it? These are some of the ideas expressed in “Frank,” an off-the-wall and terrific paean to the misfits and freaks of the world, their dreams, visions and togetherness.

Exclusive: Beautifully Noir Teaser Poster For Jim Mickle's Sundance Thriller 'Cold In July'

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 18, 2014 10:40 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Cold in July
A year ago, at the Sundance Film Festival, director Jim Mickle made everyone sit up and take notice with his cannibal chiller, "We Are What We Are." The film broke out in Park City, and while it went on to play a slew of prestigious festival dates—hitting Cannes, Fantastic Fest and more—Mickle buckled down and completed his next movie. And twelve months later he's back in Sundance with "Cold In July."

Sundance Review: Noaz Deshe's Disturbing, Distressing Venice Winner 'White Shadow'

  • By Jessica Kiang
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  • January 18, 2014 10:03 AM
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  • 3 Comments
At what point does the deep discomfort of watching a film, one which casts needed light on a profoundly repulsive practice, become so challenging that it risks alienating the audience it seeks to engage? “White Shadow,” the first feature from Berlin-based Israeli filmmaker Noaz Deshe, which plays Sundance this weekend having already picked up the Best Debut award in Venice, mired us deep in this quandary, being a story, bruisingly told, set in the horrifying world of “albino hunting” in Tanzania, where local superstitions have led to a lucrative trade in albino body parts believed by witch doctors to have mystical properties.

New Sundance Pics: Keira Knightley In 'Laggies,' Patricia Arquette In 'Boyhood' & More

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 17, 2014 2:04 PM
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  • 1 Comment
Boyhood
With the Sundance Film Festival in full swing, our team of writers are on the ground hustling from screening to screening, trying to find time to write in between and then eventually sleep. If they're lucky, they'll manage to get a meal in somewhere. For us back at home, we're continuing to look at the promo material to get a sense of what's unspooling, and a few more images have arrived today to help that out.

Watch: Sundance Teaser For 'Listen Up Philip' Starring Jason Schwartzman & Elisabeth Moss

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • January 17, 2014 10:51 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Listen Up Philip
“The character is so specific and such a curmudgeon and so angry. But when I heard that Jason [Schwartzman] wanted to do it, it really clarified things for me,” said Elisabeth Moss told EW about deciding to take a role in "Listen Up Philip." “Jason has this knack for playing characters who are maybe not necessarily that likable. He doesn’t try to make them likable, but there’s something about the way he is that makes you just want to watch him. You’re interested in what his character’s doing even if he’s being an asshole.”

Sundance Review: ‘Whiplash’ Starring Miles Teller Leads With The Different Beat Of A Very Different Drum

  • By James Rocchi
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  • January 17, 2014 10:02 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Whiplash
Opening the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, writer-director Damien Chazelle’s “Whiplash” may not seem to tread any new ground at first, with Andrew (Miles Teller) trying to thrive and survive in the hyper-competitive, hyper-stressed world of a Musical Conservatory in New York City. Andrew is talented and determined, and he will need both as hard-driving Dr. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) asks Andrew to sit in as an alternate on the school’s showcase competitive band; events transpire that give Andrew the chance to succeed or fail, with Fletcher cajoling, threatening, flattering and inspiring Andrew in a brutal set of tests and tasks that comprise the kind of crucible that either makes one stronger or utterly destroys them…

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