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The Playlist

SXSW Review: Wildly Creative & Unforgettable Romantic Time Travel Comedy 'The Infinite Man'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 17, 2014 5:06 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Infinite Man
For some reason South by Southwest was full of time travel movies this year, with the abysmal Ethan Hawke thriller "Predestination" (read our review here), a supposedly horrendous comedy "Premature" and a low-wattage Australian romantic comedy "The Infinite Man," which, coming out of the festival, might have been the best thing we saw all week. The movie is a delicate, intimate character piece about a man consumed with righting a failed relationship, and it plays out in brilliant, bedazzling ways.

SXSW Review: Documentary 'Above All Else' Obscured By Narrow Focus

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • March 16, 2014 1:31 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Above All Else
In the interest of full disclosure, I'm firmly against the Keystone XL pipeline that will start in Canada and cut through the United States to the Gulf Coast. If it goes through, I think it's an environmental disaster waiting to happen, with an economic boost that would temporarily benefit the average worker, in what would ultimately be a financial gain for a few at the top. And that's not to mention the detrimental impact it will have on individuals, communities and more, just through construction alone. But even with that stance, a decision on this controversial proposition will only benefit from considered debates that give both sides a chance to equally air their positions without hyperbole. Certainly, in a sharply partisan political sphere in the United States, that's not easy, which makes it all the more frustrating that John Fiege couldn't raise the bar of discourse with "Above All Else."

2014 SXSW Audience Award Winners Include 'Cesar Chavez,' 'True Detective,' 'Silicon Valley' & More

True Detective
Film fans are now making their way from Austin and another year at the SXSW Film Festival, with bbq stains in unexpected places and flickering images still dancing in their head. And after the juries weighed in last week with the best of the fest, now regular audiences have noted on what was worth paying attention to this year in Texas. Read More »

SXSW Review: Unexpectedly Moving Documentary 'Harmontown' Examines 'Community' Creator Dan Harmon

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • March 15, 2014 2:33 PM
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  • 4 Comments
We're not sure there's been a figure in the history of television quite like Dan Harmon. The "Community" creator has, over the past few years, become the first celebrity showrunner, a writer as well-known as any of his creations, and whose fiiter-free, headline-grabbing antics, and rise-and-fall-and-rise again narrative, have seen him become, if not a household name, then a serious cult figure.

SXSW Review: ‘Space Station 76’ Starring Patrick Wilson, Liv Tyler & Matt Bomer

  • By William Goss
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  • March 15, 2014 11:09 AM
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  • 1 Comment
Space Station 76
The retro-kitsch appeal inherent to “Space Station 76” is palpable from its star-gazing opening credits, rendered as they are in Gill Sans font (think “2001: A Space Odyssey”) with state-of-the-art CGI effects modeled on the miniature work of yesteryear. What follows is a sci-fi soap opera seemingly borne from the 1970s and only now seeing a release, and for a good while, that novelty alone seems strong enough to carry the film.

SXSW Review: 'Sequoia’ Starring Aly Michalka, Joey Lauren Adams & Demetri Martin

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • March 14, 2014 5:33 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Sequoia
An uneven, but still strangely appealing look at mortality, second chances and family dysfunction, the SXSW indie "Sequoia" may resemble a less joyful, arguably more honest version of the "Little Miss Sunshine" narrative, but it still has its own charms despite having many disagreeable characters.

SXSW Review: ‘The Mend’ Starring Josh Lucas, Stephen Plunkett & Mickey Sumner

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • March 14, 2014 3:02 PM
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  • 3 Comments
The Mend
Sour, acidic, leading characters in cinema are difficult to pull off. Audiences are already inured to charming, heroic protagonists and often repelled by their opposite. But Woody Allen managed unlikable characters for years, Noah Baumbach has successfully taken that mantle, Alex Ross Perry does a wonderful job of it in his latest film, and the delicate balance is usually either a charismatic lead that offsets the corrosiveness (Jason Schwartzman in “Listen Up Philip” for a very recent example), or a performance so unflinchingly committed and toxic they becomes utterly captivating (Nicole Kidman in “Margot At The Wedding” or Meryl Streep in "August: Osage County" for a recent example).

SXSW Review: Vampire Comedy 'What We Do In The Shadows' Draws Blood

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 14, 2014 11:00 AM
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  • 0 Comments
What We Do In The Shadows
Vampires are a particularly versatile cinematic creature, easily able to transform and readjust to the scenario or metaphoric requirement. Over the past few years they have shown up on the big screen in a number of guises—sparkly lovelorn teenagers, brooding old world counts, Colin Farrell—but a vampire comedy is a more difficult nut to crack (or vein to drain). In the summer of 2012, not even the combined might of Johnny Depp, Tim Burton, and the "Dark Shadows" television series could make a blood-sucking comedy connect with broad audiences. Thankfully, "What We Do In The Shadows," the new vampire comedy from "Flight of the Conchords" principles Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, is a refreshing, laugh-out-loud funny picture that is perfectly happy with its somewhat niche appeal. It goes in late, it gets out early, and it's a total hoot.

SXSW Review: Scary Good Mark Duplass Midnight Movie 'Creep'

  • By Drew Taylor
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  • March 14, 2014 10:01 AM
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  • 0 Comments
Creep
Producer Jason Blum has made a name for himself (and built a very successful company) from the success of the "Paranormal Activity" franchise, a series of films largely built around grainy, home video footage of doors slowly opening and closing. A number of his films that followed "Paranormal Activity" also followed this formula, to varying degrees of success. The found footage genre has a ceiling, one that Blum and his confederates would constantly bump up against. But with his newest found footage concoction "Creep," he seems to be going for something altogether different and way stranger – a funny/sad horror comedy that feels like the unholy union of "What About Bob" and "Fatal Attraction." Blum has broken through that ceiling and has found something very weird on the other side.

Review: SXSW Dramatic Prize Award Winner 'Fort Tilden'

  • By William Goss
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  • March 13, 2014 6:04 PM
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  • 1 Comment
“The distress is authentic.” Harper (Bridey Elliott) is describing a barrel on a beach, admiring its organically worn qualities in contrast to a similar barrel that she and BFF Allie (Clare McNulty) impulse-bought on a Brooklyn street corner mere hours before. Of course, that barrel now sits on the bottom of their stairs, devoid of umbrellas or whatever it is they feel like filling it with, while this one rests freely on the sand, a somehow superior bit of nothing.

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