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The Playlist

Tribeca Review: The Unflinching 'Oxyana' Soberly Charts An Insidious Drug Epidemic In West Virginia

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • April 28, 2013 11:19 AM
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  • 7 Comments
Oxyana
Oceana, a small coal mining town in Wyoming County, West Virginia, is, on the surface, like any other small town in Appalachia. An hour away from almost any major city, and with an approximate population of 1400, it’s small, close-knit and not necessarily very open to outsiders. But quietly simmering underneath the surface of this municipality, an insidious epidemic is growing; a scourge of OxyContin and prescription pills that has devastated the town and given it the unfortunate nickname of “Oxyana.”

Tribeca Review: A Lovely & Considered Humanism Courses Through ‘The Rocket’

  • By Rodrigo Perez
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  • April 27, 2013 3:11 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Rocket
There’s a tricky balance to be found in Australian documentarian Kim Mordaunt’s impressive narrative debut “The Rocket.” Mordaunt, who returns to Laos after exploring the country in his documentary “The Bomb Harvest,” tells a tale that’s both humanistic and soulful, yet political and socially aware. Tip the scales in either direction and your tonal equilibrium is thrown out of order. And that’s perhaps what makes “The Rocket” so special; it’s a thoughtful, well-observed drama that contains many painful struggles and hardships, quietly chronicles third world poverty and social inequities, and yet never condescends to preach or teach. In fact, when the beleaguered protagonists finally receive some much-needed respite and joy, the payoff is well-earned.

Tribeca Review: 'What Richard Did' Is A Stark, Sobering Drama Of Guilt And Regret

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 26, 2013 6:02 PM
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  • 27 Comments
Last week, Matt Singer wrote a solid Criticwire piece on spoilers and film reviews, discussing the right, or lack thereof, of readers complaining about spoilers in reviews. I don't subscribe to the theory of spoilers because films aren't simply a cherry-picked collection of moments: it makes no difference whether you say if Tom Cruise survives at the end of "Oblivion" compared to sharing with someone the content of his dubious opening narration (side note: you can't spoil a Tom Cruise movie anyway). So, look, if you're marching headfirst into a review for a movie called "What Richard Did" and you don't want to know what Richard did, then wait for us to build a Complaint Dept. and we will forward your emails there.

Tribeca Review: 'Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic' Obscures The Genius Of A Comedic Titan

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 26, 2013 5:16 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic
It's an unenviable task, putting together a documentary about a stand-up comedian. The best ones transcend the form and become storytellers; in the case of "Richard Pryor: Omit The Logic," offering only brief snippets of Pryor's bits is like doing a Michael Jackson doc and only playing a few bars of "Thriller" and "Billie Jean." Maybe a better example would be a documentary that only showed Babe Ruth hitting home runs: what defined Pryor has been lost to the years due to a late-career tumble that reduced him to content trailblazer, dropping "f" bombs in polite company as if he was just a vulgarian, not a cultural troubadour.

Tribeca Review: Grisly 'Raze' Wastes The Surprising Presence Of Zoe Bell

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 26, 2013 4:27 PM
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  • 2 Comments
The women-in-prison genre gets a contemporary reworking in the grisly slugfest “Raze.” There’s no sex or nudity in this film, which pairs off a large ensemble of actresses in a series of increasingly violent fistfights to the death, and some audiences might find this a cause for celebration -- Bechdel Test enthusiasts especially should take note of how insignificant men are in these womens’ lives. But perhaps it’s how we find titillation in the modern world – the cast takes turns getting brutalized by each other while under the rule of sadistic prison guards, and these women respond to bloodshed with more and more nastiness. Is it empowering when one prisoner flings feces at a brutish male guard if sex is never once put on the table?

Tribeca Review: 'The Machine' Is A Fastball Down The Middle For Genre Die-Hards

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 25, 2013 8:00 PM
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  • 1 Comment
The Machine
Even though science fiction allows for the widest possibility of storytelling, it often seems like there are really only three or four sci-fi stories, and they stopped creating them after the eighties. How else to explain an industry overwhelmed by the amount of low-budget takes on "The Terminator" and "Blade Runner" like "The Machine," a junky piece of escapism so heavily indebted to those films that it is barely amusing on its own?

Tribeca Review: Featherweight 'Just A Sigh' A Wayward Romance That Immediately Fades From Memory

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 25, 2013 6:40 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Just A Sigh, Gabrielle Byrne
Some of us are floating in the water, waiting for that big wave that we can ride, one that will let us surf to another place where the water’s warmer, less choppy, and in some cases, soaked with less tourist piss (which may or may not be part of the metaphor). One of these people is Alix (Emmanuelle Devos) of “Just a Sigh,” a working actress still stuck in a holding pattern. Now in her forties, she clutches her cellphone, praying for a call from a sometime-boyfriend. What we learn of this man suggests whatever feelings that exist may not be mutual, and while Alix tells a girlfriend that she’s going to visit him, suggesting that she may try to establish their relationship face-to-face, the defensive way that Alix expresses herself suggests she’s tried this before.

Tribeca Review: Kiwi Cannibal Comedy 'Fresh Meat' Is A Silly, Tasty Treat

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 25, 2013 4:57 PM
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  • 0 Comments
Fresh Meat
There’s a certain expectation that comes with attending a horror-comedy with a ridiculously on-the-nose title. And in that respect, “Fresh Meat” delivers on its promise as a deliriously off-the-wall splatterfest with absolutely zero pretension. You could guess that Kiwi director Danny Mulheron was a Peter Jackson acolyte (he worked on Jackson’s puppet classic “Meet The Feebles”) by just closing your eyes and listening: the smack of slabs of meat slapping against each other, the screams of proudly ridiculous mega-acting, and the perfectly-calibrated physical violence that suggests a silly symphony of onscreen slapstick are all strengths that used to be exhibited in the work of Mr. Jackson, before he traded his integrity for some elf ears in Hollywood.

Tribeca Review: 'Lily' Is A Modest But Genuinely Affecting New York Picture

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 25, 2013 9:56 AM
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  • 0 Comments
The Tribeca Film Festival is designed to explore different areas of the world, providing a mouthpiece for filmmakers and regions that normally would not have representation at a more celebrated fest. But Tribeca has also discovered the importance in finding expressive and interesting voices locally, placing an importance on films that speak to New York and capture the specific rhythms of the city, the way the streets seem to pulse, the subways scream, and the passersby have enough personality to fill a city block. It takes a particularly astute filmmaker to perfectly capture those vibes: so many films have made the city appear anonymous, generic, without personality. But director Matt Creed clearly gets the appeal of a place romanticized by locals and visitors, and how the drama experienced in the city is given an added dimension by our environment, in "Lily." To watch the film is to witness that famed image of a flower growing from between two slabs of concrete, to see beauty blossom in a unique environment.

Tribeca Review: 'Möbius' Spins Off In Too Many Directions You Won't Want To Follow

  • By Gabe Toro
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  • April 24, 2013 8:00 PM
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  • 3 Comments
Who can you trust? It’s the question posed by the international spies at the heart of “Mobius,” all of whom spend their time so deep undercover that they might as well be double-crossing themselves. Of course, as this film proudly, defiantly jumps deep into the pool of international finance trading (which may actually be a thing, or might just be three buzzwords slammed together given the rapid-fire patter of this film), the question audiences will likely be asking is, who can we avoid trusting so we aren’t a part of this whole mess?

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