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  • The Playlist
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    TIFF '11 Review: A (Mostly) Delightful 'Damsels In Distress' A Welcome Return By Whit Stillman

    From the moment the Sony Pictures Classics logo pops up not in the usual blue -- but in cupcake frosting pink -- you know that Whit Stillman's first film in 13 years (!) is going to be something special. While word from Venice -- where the film closed the festival before heading to TIFF -- was good, the question to be answered was whether or not Stillman's style and cinematic persona would stand up in a filmmaking landscape that has changed immensely since "Last Days of Disco." Well, let there be no doubt: Stillman is just as enjoyable as when we last met him those many years ago and "Damsels In Distress" finds the director with lots (and lots and lots) left to say.

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  • Women and Hollywood
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    TIFF- Albert Nobbs

    It was so great to see Glenn Close back on the big screen in Albert Nobbs. It's been too long. She, like many other actresses of her generation, have found TV to be the place where she can play richer characters than in film.

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  • The Playlist
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    Nick Nolte & Tom Waits Circling Drama 'The Low Road,' From 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' Producers

    A slowly creeping phenomenon of 2011 has been the indie drama "Martha Marcy May Marlene." Ever since its debut at Sundance in January, the psychological thriller, which has placed star Elizabeth Olsen as one of the hottest actresses around, has picked up some of the most glowing reviews of the year (read ours from Sundance here), and played virtually every major festival, currently unspooling at Toronto after cropping up at Cannes in the Spring. Joe Public will get their chance to see it when it's released next month, but the company behind Sean Durkin's film are moving onto pastures new, with two projects in the can, and one more gearing up that's attracting the attention of two veteran actors.

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  • Shadow and Act
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    Preview/Trailer Jamaican "Against-The-Odds" Boxing Drama "Ghett’a Life"

    In a recent post about Warrior I think it was, I made a remark about being over seeing inspirational dramas about white fighters (whether boxers, wrestlers, MMA, etc) that seem to have become fashionable again in Hollywood in the last 4 or 5 years - 2 of them have been Oscar contenders, one is likely going to be given the buzz, and another was recently announced with Eminem starring and Antoine Fuqua directing.

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  • The Playlist
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    R.I.P. Oscar-Winner & 'Spider-Man' Star Cliff Robertson (1923-2011)

    Sad news amidst all the film festival nonsense this morning, with the news breaking overnight that Cliff Robertson, the Oscar-winning star of "Charly," who found a new lease of life in recent years after playing Uncle Ben in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" trilogy, passed away yesterday at the age of 88. Robertson had a long and varied career, dating back to the 1950s, although thanks to his exposure of a embezzlement scam by Columbia Pictures boss David Begelman in the 1970s, faced brief black-listing from studios.

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    Strike Back, Episode 4, Recap and Review: Action is Character

    David Chute salutes Strike Back's commanding officer.Amanda Mealing, the actress who plays Colonel Eleanor Grant, chief of the covert ops unit Section 20 on Strike Back, gets off the single best shot, the final one, in episode 4 of this quick-witted series. The coiled fury behind that head shot, the way it's staged and played, even more than the extra-legal step that's being taken, creates the kind of seismic moment on a show that changes our interpretation of everything we've seen, our sense of what's at stake and the kind of people we're dealing with.

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  • The Playlist
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    Michael Shannon Says His General Zod In 'Man of Steel' Will Be Very Different From Terence Stamp's

    Also Says That Crime Film 'The Iceman' & James Franco's 'As I Lay Dying' Aren't Happening Any Time Soon We have to confess, when considering the possibilities as to who might end up playing villain General Zod in Zack Snyder's Superman reboot "Man of Steel," Michael Shannon was never on our list. Not that he's not a fine actor -- he's one of the finest out there right now, one who goes from strength to strength with seemingly every performance. And not that he's resisted studio fare in the past -- indeed, he'll be playing a villain in the Joseph Gordon-Levitt vehicle "Premium Rush" at the start of next year. It's more that Shannon's particular brand of bug-eyed crazy is so very different from the steely fascism embodied by Terence Stamp in the character's last big-screen appearance in "Superman II."

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  • The Playlist
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    TIFF '11 Review: 'The Oranges' Delivers A Grove Of Big Laughs

    The indie ensemble comedy genre is fraught with pitfalls, from high concepts that just don't deliver, to outrageous storylines that can't sustain their own frenzied energy. For every "Little Miss Sunshine" there are countless more that attempt to create that film's almost intangible alchemy but falter somewhere along the way. "The Oranges" could have gone either way - with Julian Farino a mostly TV director ("Entourage," "How To Make It In America") making his sophomore film with a grab bag cast including Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener, Oliver Platt, Allison Janney, Alia Shawkat, Adam Brody and Leighton Meeste,r we really had no idea what to expect from the film. But playing to huge laughs, this winning comedy overcomes some of its patchier elements to become a bonafide crowd pleaser.

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  • The Playlist
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    TIFF '11 Review: Admirable, Low-Key ’50/50’ Splits Difference Between Genuinely Funny And Sad

    Let's get this out of the way early; the cancer dramedy, "50/50," formerly known as "I'm With Cancer," is an admirable effort by all the parties involved. There's maturity and restraint shown throughout in this story, about a healthy young twentysomething man staring his mortality in the face when he is suddenly diagnosed with a rare spinal cancer, and it's a well-intentioned humanistic drama that tries to demonstrate that life is complicated and never quite cut and dry. The measured film takes pains to illustrate there is laughter to be derived in difficult and near-tragic situations and melancholy can also be found in some of the most humorous moments. It's also a friendship movie that is wise enough to not feel like a bromance film. In fact, it feels like it comes from the playbook of master comedians like James L. Brooks, Judd Apatow and Albert Brooks who deftly understand that a little sour in sweetness and vice-versa can go a long, long way.

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  • The Playlist
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    TIFF '11 Review: Oh The Horror -- Francis Ford Coppola's 'Twixt' Is A Low-Rent Nightmare

    Francis Ford Coppola has played quite a few roles in his five-decade-long career. He started as a low-budget filmmaker in skin flicks and Roger Corman films before becoming an icon with a hugely impressive run of films that started with "The Godfather" and, arguably, ended with "Apocalypse Now." The director struggled throughout the '80s and '90s, first attempting to bankroll his expensive projects through his American Zoetrope label, then as a director for hire in Hollywood after a run of flops nearly bankrupted him. But instead of continuing to struggle within the studio system he instead opted to go independent again.

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