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The Playlist

Venice Review: Frederick Wiseman's Epic College-Set Documentary 'At Berkeley'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 6, 2013 12:31 PM
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  • 4 Comments
At Berkeley
Over the years, veteran documentarian Frederick Wiseman has covered what sometimes feels like almost kind of institution and every aspect of life in America (and occasionally, life abroad too). "Titicut Follies," "Juvenile Court," "Zoo," "Racetrack," "Central Park," "Public Housing," "Boxing Gym," a pair of movies focusing on teen education, and many, many more, he's covered the gamut. Now, aged 83, Wiseman, like Rodney Dangerfield before him, is going Back To School...

Venice Review: Tsai Ming-Liang's 'Stray Dogs'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 6, 2013 11:58 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Tsai Ming-Liang's 'Stray Dogs'
In a festival that's seen a number of endurance tests—Philip Groning's three-hour, 59-chapter "The Police Officer's Wife," the abstracted imagery of "Under The Skin," the brief but unrelentingly terrible duration of "Parkland," no film seemed to inspire more walk outs than "Stray Dogs." The return of acclaimed Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-Liang after a 4-year absence (and longer since he made a film at home: 2009's "Play" mostly featured French actors), it's not that it’s particularly lengthy, or particularly provocative in its content.

Venice Review: Japanese Remake Of Clint Eastwood's 'Unforgiven' Starring Ken Watanabe

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 5, 2013 7:23 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Lord knows that, over the years, Hollywood has plundered its fair share of Japanese cinema. From the appropriation of "Godzilla," "Seven Samurai" turning into "The Magnificent Seven," to the long run of J-horror re-dos, to—only last week—the announcement of a DreamWorks version of Cannes film "Like Father Like Son," there aren't many major and successful Japanese movies that haven't been at least developed as a remake. So it only seems fair that the favor should be returned at some point, and what could be a better way of doing so than by remaking one of the greatest films by Clint Eastwood, whose own star was launched when "Yojimbo" was remade as "A Fistful Of Dollars."

Venice Review: Errol Morris’ Donald Rumsfeld Documentary ‘The Unknown Known’

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 5, 2013 9:43 AM
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  • 1 Comment
The Unknown Known, Errol Morris
As we inch towards another potential war in the Middle East, the last couple are still being pored over by filmmakers. We’re still likely some time away from the definitive takes on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we have seen a few solid films telling those stories in the last decade or so albeit tending to focus on the men on the ground, rather than the architects of the conflict. The men who planned and executed the wars might have been out of office for some time, but they’re not showing any particular willingness to talk things over. Well, except one. Sort of.

Venice Review: Patrice Leconte’s ‘A Promise’ Starring Rebecca Hall, Richard Madden & Alan Rickman

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 5, 2013 9:23 AM
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  • 0 Comments
He’s fallen out of favor a bit in the last few years, but there was a time when Patrice Leconte was one of the most popular foreign filmmakers in the U.S. While he was never a favorite with the hipper critics, over the 1990s and early 2000s, films like “Ridicule,” “ The Girl On The Bridge,” “The Man On The Train” and “Intimate Strangers” became staples on the festival circuit, won BAFTAs and Cesars, and became sizeable arthouse hits Stateside.

Venice Review: Kim-Ki Duk's Taboo-Shattering Black Comedy 'Moebius'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 4, 2013 12:45 PM
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  • 6 Comments
Moebius
Internationally at least, Kim Ki-Duk's "Pieta" was hardly the popular choice to win the Golden Lion at last year's Venice Film Festival. The Korean provocateur is a long-time favorite at Venice, and the film was predictably well-received by local audiences and critic, but U.S. and U.K. critics, ourselves included were less impressed, finding it rather drab, prosaic and straightforward.

Venice Review: Alex Gibney's Lance Armstrong Documentary 'The Armstrong Lie'

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 4, 2013 11:30 AM
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  • 5 Comments
The Armstrong Lie, Gibney
The last few years have seen sport of all kinds haunted by the specter of doping, with everyone from Barry Bonds to Alex Rodriguez linked to the use of banned substances. But the name that is likely to forever be linked with drugs cheating in sports is Lance Armstrong. Thanks to his seven victories at the Tour De France, the cyclist would have been a hero even if he hadn't also recovered from a near-death battle with cancer, and subsequently raising millions and millions of dollar for research against the disease thanks to his Livestrong brand.

5 Reasons Why Jonathan Glazer's 'Under The Skin' Is One Of The Best Films Of The Year

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 4, 2013 10:45 AM
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  • 91 Comments
Under The Skin
This morning saw the first official press screening of "Under The Skin," the first new film in nine years from "Sexy Beast" and "Birth" helmer Jonathan Glazer, which premieres officially at the Venice Film Festival tonight. But as you'll know if you were reading over the weekend, the film's already been unveiled across the Atlantic as part of the line-up at the Telluride Film Festival.

Watch: First Clip From Kelly Reichardt's 'Night Moves' Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning & Peter Sarsgaard

  • By Kevin Jagernauth
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  • September 3, 2013 10:18 AM
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  • 2 Comments
Night Moves
With a trio of measured dramas under her belt — “Old Joy,” “Wendy & Lucy” and “Meek’s Cutoff” — Kelly Reichardt has established herself as a filmmaker whose storytelling is patient and considered. But when news arrived that her latest "Night Moves" would take on eco-terrorism and feature a Hollywood-ish cast with Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Petes Sarsgaard, it certainly grabbed our attention. The result? As our review out of Venice notes, a "perfect reminder that Reichardt is one of the most exciting directorial talents we have right now."

Venice Review: Steven Knight’s ‘Locke’ Starring Tom Hardy

  • By Oliver Lyttelton
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  • September 3, 2013 6:54 AM
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  • 4 Comments
Locke Tom Hardy
Of all the genres, the single location film is perhaps one of the hardest to get right. For one, you need a hell of an actor (or actors) to hold the attention for even the briefest of running times. You also need a story that coherently keeps the actors in place, with enough of a hook to keep you involved. And you need to keep things visually interesting enough to stop it being too static without being showy. It’s a big ask, Hitchcock was the master of the style, and there are a select few other examples, but most turn out poorly.

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