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Review: Entertaining And Well-Crafted 'The Imitation Game' Starring Benedict Cumberbatch & Keira Knightley

11 hours ago

In 1941, brilliant Cambridge mathematician Alan Turing was hired by the British military to break an infamous and seemingly indecipherable Nazi code called Enigma. Leading a group of misfit cryptanalysts, logicians and assorted wunderkinds, Turing directed the operation of code breakers to crack Enigma and win the war. But for Turing, this victory came at a terrible expense. Set in two periods —1951, after Enigma has long been broken, and 1941, as the irascible and arrogant Turing has applied for the code-breaking job (his unsocialzed Asperger’s-like personality almost getting him bounced out of the interview)— Graham Moore’s adept screenplay deftly navigates between both settings and even gives the latter period a touch of mystery, sending the suspenseful drama, taking place in the throes of WWII, off to the races. After a bumpy opening of unnecessary voice-over and on-the-nose dialogue, “The Imitation Game” takes off with a skillful trajectory. The thriller wastes no time. »

- Rodrigo Perez

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Check Out This Infographic Guide To French Cinema History

11 hours ago

This lovely infographic made by Raffels Hotels provides a nice introduction to French cinema. Not only has France produced some of the world's greatest filmmakers they invented cinema as we know it. They patented the first cinématographie and hosted the first private and public film screenings before anyone else. The graphic also includes a list of landmark French films over the last century, but the most fascinating section is on the country’s rich film culture. There are currently 302 cinemas in Paris alone (compared to 117 in New York City) and the city is host to 190 film festivals. This is the kind of cultural landscape you get when arts funding is generously supported by the government, though in these times of austerity, let's hope that support remains.  There’s also some great info on the country's historic cinemas including the Cinémathèque Française (home to one of the largest archives of film »

- Anthony Nicholas

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TV Review: 'Toy Story That Time Forgot' Featuring Tom Hanks, Tim Allen & Kristen Schaal, Is A New Christmas Classic

12 hours ago

When it was announced that Pixar would be endeavoring on a fourth "Toy Story" feature film (set for release on June 16th, 2017), there were those who decried it as a shallow cash grab since, creatively, there was no where else for the franchise to go, especially after three beloved features and a handful of winning shorts. "Toy Story That Time Forgot," a 22-minute Christmas special airing on ABC on December 2nd, should put those fears of the franchise's creative longevity to rest; this is a weird and wild mini-movie, a new Christmas classic, and proof that there are untold avenues of experimentation within the "Toy Story" universe. After watching "Toy Story That Time Forgot," June 16th, 2017 will seem really far away. Instead of focusing on Woody or Buzz (or one of Andy's beloved playthings from the first two films), the emphasis is placed squarely on Trixie (Kristen Schaal), one »

- Drew Taylor

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Watch: Jessica Chastain & Oscar Isaac Chase The American Dream In New Featurette For ‘A Most Violent Year’

12 hours ago

What’s not to love about “A Most Violent Year”? It’s an ‘80s set moral crime drama that stars Oscar Isaac – who’s seemingly on his way to becoming a household name with roles in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” and “X-Men: Apocalypse”—Jessica Chastain and David Oyelowo, arguably the three greatest actors of their generation who all seem poised for A-list greatness. Then there’s the director J.C. Chandor: he arrived immediately with his economic crisis drama “Margin Call” and then seriously stepped up the ante with the left turn of “All Is Lost,” an existentialist action drama on the high seas that was Robert Redford’s best performance in eons. So what's "A Most Violent Year" about? Here’s part of the synopsis that describes yet another new bold direction for the filmmaker, an interesting take on the American Dream, compromise and the cost of »

- Edward Davis

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Exclusive: The Iron Sheik Gets On Twitter In Clip From Documentary 'The Sheik'

12 hours ago

Perhaps the name Khosrow Vaziri isn't immediately familiar to you, but if you're a person of a certain age, than you remember growing up with The Iron Sheik. One the most fearsome villains in the heyday of the WWF, the wrestler has gained a new life outside the ring thanks unique, outrageous social media presence. And the forthcoming documentary "The Sheik" dives right into his new digital world. Directed by Igal Hecht, and featuring Hulk Hogan, Dwayne Johnson, Mick Foley, Seth Green, Jack Black, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Bret Hart, King Kong Bundy, Koko B Ware, Brother Love, Ron Jeremy, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and more, the doc goes all the way back to tell the story of Vazirir's journey to America, and what's it like to be a 72 year-old father, husband, and grandfather, who also happens to be a sensation online. And in this exclusive clip, you can get a »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: 'The Avengers: Age Of Ultron' Trailer Gets Sweded

13 hours ago

For those who don't know, Sweding  — popularized by Michel Gondry's "Be Kind Rewind" — means to remake your favorite movie (or the movie trailer) with your friends on a super low budget and using homemade special effects. And the results can be a lot of fun.  It was an idea ahead of its time predating the YouTube revolution a couple of years. Now it’s a fairly common practice with some cities even hosting sweded film festivals. There are countless examples across YouTube — it's easy way to kill an hour or two — and while not as en vogue as it once was, every now and then one pops up that's worth checking out. And so below is the sweded trailer for “Avengers: Age of Ultron” is a hoot to watch. It features plenty of clever effects, some spectacular homemade costumes, and a hilarious take on the soundtrack. Give it a watch. »

- Anthony Nicholas

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Exclusive: Trailer For Award Winning Documentary 'Concerning Violence' Narrated By Ms. Lauryn Hill

14 hours ago

Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January, 2014 has been nothing but a string of acclaim for the documentary "Concerning Violence." Picking up the Cinema Fairbindet Prize in Berlin, and screening at festivals around the world, the powerful film is now headed to cinemas, and today we have the exclusive trailer.  Directed by Göran Hugo Olsson, the filmmaker behind "The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975," and narrated by Ms. Lauyn Hill, the film is based on Frantz Fanon’s seminal anticolonial text "The Wretched of the Earth," the film is an exploration of the forces of repression and colonialism in Africa. As we wrote in our review, the documentary provides a "a searing look at Europe's painful involvement in participating, encouraging and backing regimes of oppression." It's light fare, but a necessary, and important film. "Concerning Violence" opens on December 5th at the IFC Center, with Olsson on hand for a. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Ridley Scott Says 'Exodus' Would Never Get Financed Starring "Mohammad So-and-So From Such-And-Such”

14 hours ago

Ever since the marketing campaign for "Exodus: Gods And Kings" rolled out a small but not insignificant chorus has risen, mostly online, about the casting of Ridley Scott's Biblical epic. Essentially, there have been complaints that the film features a distinct lack of ethnic actors from the region, and instead relies on A-list actors slotting in roles of Moses, Ramses, and more. While he vaguely addressed the issue over the summer, with the movie due in theaters soon, Scott has become much more candid about why he cast Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton over an actor more representative for those roles (or any of the secondary players). “I can’t mount a film of this budget, where I have to rely on tax rebates in Spain, and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such,” Scott told Variety. “I’m just not going to get it financed. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: 70-Minute Masterclass With Legendary Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond

15 hours ago

The soft-spoken and humble Oscar-winning cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” also nominated for “The Deer Hunter,” “The River,” and “The Black Dahlia”) sat down this past summer to answer questions about his impressive career as part of Toronto International Film Festival’s Higher Learning program. (As a quick aside to our Canadian readers, we encourage you to check out Tiff’s Post-Secondary Programmes: “Higher Learning is a free ongoing programme that provides Canadian college and university students and faculty a forum in which to examine film, television, video, new media and gaming from a wide range of cultural, social, historical, political and technological approaches and disciplines.”) Tiff just published the talk and we think it’s worth a watch. Over the course of the discussion, Zsigmond talks about the importance of film, modern versus historical cinema, and even how he made his transition from the athletically ambitious son of a. »

- Zach Hollwedel

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Watch: 40-Minute Animation Roundtable With The Folks Behind 'Boxtrolls,' 'Big Hero 6,' 'The Lego Movie,' & More

15 hours ago

In Hollywood’s headlong rush to hit all four quadrants, animated movies have proven to be fruitful for the bottom line. Last year three animated films—“Frozen,” “Despicable Me 2,” and “Monsters University”—were in the top ten at the box office, earning roughly $1 billion total domestically. With more animated films getting positive reviews and the lines blurring between those and live-action films, filmmakers from the animation world are looking for more respect, and what better way to get more recognition than by stopping by THR for a roundtable discussion? Yesterday the trade magazine posted a 41-minute-long discussion between Bonnie Arnold (producer of “How To Train Your Dragon 2”), Jorge Gutierrez (director of “The Book of Life”), Don Hall (director of “Big Hero 6”), Travis Knight (animator and producer on “The Boxtrolls”), Dan Lin (producer of “The Lego Movie”), and Tomm Moore (director of “Song of the »

- Cain Rodriguez

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Natalie Portman Logs On To Steve Jobs Biopic With Michael Fassbender

15 hours ago

Well, fortunes have turned around quickly for Danny Boyle's "Jobs." Recently dropped by Sony, the project has a new home over at Universal, and Michael Fassbender went from rumored to attached to the lead role of Steve Jobs. And now, another big name has joined. Deadline reports that Natalie Portman is in talks to board the Aaron Sorkin penned movie. There is no word on what role she might play, but perhaps that of Steve Jobs' daughter? You'll recall that Sorkin recently said she's "the heroine of the movie” and that she was what drew him to the project. But another female role Portman could take on is that of Joanna Hoffman ("a fantastic character" according to Sorkin), who was the head of marketing for the Mac team. Anyway, more to come as "Jobs" seems to be back on track, and attracting some major names. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: Vince Vaughn Has 'Unfinished Business' In Nsfw First Trailer

16 hours ago

Next summer, we'll see a dramatic side of Vince Vaughn that hasn't been glimpsed in a long time when he appears in HBO's "True Detective" season two. But before that, he'll be back to his usual comedy hijinks in "Unfinished Business," and the first trailer arrived today. Co-starring Nick Frost, Dave Franco, Sienna Miller, and Tom Wilkinson, and re-teaming Vaughn with "Delivery Man" director Ken Scott, the story is in the vein of "Planes, Trains & Automobiles," following a business man whose European trip goes awry. According to Franco, this one isn't for kids. "I’m really proud of this one. I play a kid with Asperger’s, and it’s one of these roles that was very terrifying for me to play, and it’s going to be one of these things where people either fully embrace it, or I’m never going to work again," the actor told The Daily Beast. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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James Cameron Says 'Avatar' Sequels Will Make You "Sh*t Yourself With Your Mouth Wide Open”

16 hours ago

There are a few things you can probably expect from James Cameron's brewing trifecta of "Avatar" sequels. More Sam Worthington, a return to Pandora, and more eye-popping visual effects. But just how dazzling will his movies be? Well, Cameron is never one to mince words. “I can tell you one thing about them, they’re gonna be bitchin’. You will shit yourself with your mouth wide open,” he told Empire. Indeed, the filmmaker is always eager to push the latest new fangled technology to try and wow moviegoers, and he's not backing away from the frame-rate debate, promising the next films will double the standard 24fps.  "My thinking at the time was that 60 [Fps] might be a better segue to the video market,” he said of earlier attempts to increase frame rate. “I’ll be plugging into a system that’s a little more mature, so it makes sense for »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: Tim Burton's Full 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' Episode 'The Jar' Starring Griffin Dunne

16 hours ago

With “Big Eyes” opening next month (apparently to a less-than-enthusiastic response from those who’ve already seen it), and the holiday season just around the corner, it's an appropriate time for us here at the Playlist to appreciate the Tim Burton of yore. Indeed, there was a time when Burton’s now-inimitable style seemed genuinely fresh. A delicate marriage of morbid gothic weirdness and a sort of aching fairy-tale fragility is and was the director’s signature operating mode, but he’s exhausted this technique to diminishing returns in the last few years in disappointing vehicles like “Dark Shadows” and “Alice in Wonderland.” What’s important to remember, though, is that Burton had a stellar run early in his career, back when he was the macabre genius known for sick-puppy classics like “Beetlejuice,” “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure,” and—still the glummest of all the Batman films, in this writer’s opinion—“Batman Returns. »

- Nicholas Laskin

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The Essentials: 7 Films You Should Know From Acclaimed Documentarian Les Blank

17 hours ago

If one were to speculate about fiercely independent filmmaker Les Blank’s politics, via the worldview presented in his wondrously luminous documentaries, it would quickly come down to one option: libertarianism. Distilled down to their essence, Blank’s offbeat, yet inconspicuous and low-key documentaries, indebted to cinéma vérité without being purist about it, were often concerned with capturing the natural simplicity of unencumbered life, following those with the liberty to explore the fundamentals of existence and to self-express. Perennially fascinated with music, food, and marginalized cultures, Blank’s casual, unobtrusive films are primal in the sense that they seem built for the very reason the camera was invented: to capture images that would otherwise be unseen for the purpose of communicating back something new and vivid to the rest of the world. Perhaps best described to a newcomer as a kindred spirit to Werner Herzog—a friend and colleague he. »

- The Playlist Staff

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"Everybody’s Thinking About" More 'Hunger Games,' Francis Lawrence Talks 'Mockingjay — Part 2' Changes From Book

17 hours ago

As we all know, franchises never end. They get reinvented, rebooted, spun-off, prequel-ed, but in today's climate, the end to one series is simply the door to a new beginning. So even though "The Hunger Games" heads to its finale with next year's "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2," you probably won't be shocked to learn that there is already chatter about how to bring audiences back to the Capitol.  “Everybody is thinking about [expanding the franchise], and talking about it. I just think that one has to go into that world carefully," director Francis Lawrence told MTV. And while he acknowledges it's "risky" just to continue the brand without any thought behind the themes, it's not impossible either. “You need to make sure that you have something new to say,” Lawrence added. “New characters need to be created that are just as compelling as Katniss. It’s a tricky thing, but I »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: Explore Martin Scorsese's Expert Camera Work In 'Cape Fear' With 10-Minute 'Shot By Shot' Video Essay

18 hours ago

Who can deny that film students, aficionados, and filmmakers will study the work of Martin Scorsese for generations to come? He remains part of a select group of filmmakers that emerged (from film schools and circles) in the '60s and '70s and took the industry by storm. In his new video, Vimeo user Antonios Papantoniou crafts a 10-minute study of the director’s camera work. Papantoniou’s focus in the study is “Cape Fear,” which he (contentiously) claims is "the director’s final masterpiece and marks his last collaboration with De Niro where the actor gives his final landmark performance.” We’ll avoid commenting too much on that bold statement (not to mention that "Casino" came after "Cape Fear") — though feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments — and skip to Papantoniou’s thesis argument on camera use in the film. “The director creates hyper violent »

- Zach Hollwedel

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Watch: 50-Minute Roundtable Talk With Amy Adams, Reese Witherspoon, Felicity Jones, Hilary Swank, And More

18 hours ago

It’s that time of the year again, folks. Black Friday shoppers are licking their proverbial chops and hoping they don’t get trampled in the fracas. Pumpkin-spice flavored everything is still all the rage, even extending to burgers. (I wish you could make this shit up.) And on top of all that, the holiday movie season – which saw the release of some of the year’s best films, including “Foxcatcher” and “Interstellar” – is almost wrapped up. While there are still a handful of major films to look forward to in December, the year is all but over and with the gradual trickling-in of pre-Oscar hype comes the annual batch of Roundtable Discussions. And the latest focuses on this year’s leading ladies, featuring Hilary Swank (“The Homesman”), Julianne Moore (“Still Alice”), Reese Witherspoon (“Wild”), Patricia Arquette (“Boyhood”), Amy Adams (“Big Eyes”), Laura Dern (“Wild” again) and Felicity Jones »

- Nicholas Laskin

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Do You Like Spy Movies? Watch The New Trailer For 'Kingsman: The Secret Service' With Colin Firth & Samuel L. Jackson

18 hours ago

As you might've heard buzzing on the Twittersphere, "Kingsman: The Secret Service" has started screening for advance audiences, and word is good. Basically, if you've ever wanted to see Colin Firth going full on "The Raid" in an action/comedy, the latest effort from Matthew Vaughn will apparently more than fit the bill. And the brand new trailer is here showing off the self-aware, hyper-stylized flick that wants you very clearly to know that it's not taking itself, or the spy genre, seriously.  “ 'Skyfall' is pretty exhausting, isn't it?” Vaughn told IGN. “It's serious. I wanted to make this a film where 'The Spy Who Loved Me' comes on, it's on TV, and you go, ‘Oh, f#@k it, I'll watch this for five minutes.’ An hour later you're like, ‘Oh, s#!t. I've got to watch the ending now.’ You have to be in the mood for it. »

- Kevin Jagernauth

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Watch: Vintage Footage Of The Real John Du Pont, Plus Over 1 Hour Of 'Foxcatcher' Interviews With Director And Cast

19 hours ago

Today sees Bennett Miller’s great “Foxcatcher” expand to more theaters nationwide, bringing the true story of the wealthy John du Pont, and his tragic dream of building an Olympic wrestling team, to an even bigger audience. And today we have some vintage footage and interviews you'll want to check out either before you hit the cinema, or after you see the film. First up is a fifteen-minute-long video from 1988 — originally shot for an awards banquet — where the real John du Pont takes us on a tour of the Foxcatcher farm. It’s downright spooky how similar Steve Carell in the film looks like the real du Pont. The video may be a puff piece but it’s still worth watching to see how close Miller’s film got to the real deal, and to compare the subject of "Foxcatcher" to the actor playing him. Meanwhile, To promote the release of the new film, »

- Cain Rodriguez

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