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  • The Playlist
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    Joe Carnahan To Write & Direct Remake Of 'Death Wish'

    Joe Carnahan must be feeling vindicated this morning. The writer/director broke out with 2002's terrific, muscular cop thriller "Narc," but hasn't had a lot of joy since: his 2006 sub-Guy Ritchie action-comedy "Smokin' Aces" wasn't beloved by many, while a director-for-hire gig on the would-be-tentpole "The A-Team" was tepidly received by audiences and critics alike. But from that, he reteamed with star Liam Neeson for a far more personal project, the existential killer-wolf survival tale "The Grey," and was validated in a big way when the positively-received film topped the box office this weekend with a strong $20 million haul. Presumably, this has given him the cache to make something bigger and better next time around, something even dearer to his heart, like dream projects "White Jazz" or "Killing Pablo."

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  • The Playlist
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    Sundance Review: 'Under African Skies' A Straightforward, But Feel Good Triumph For Fans Of Paul Simon's 'Graceland'

    A simultaneous portrait of a great moment in music and terrible one in human history, “Under African Skies” tells the story of the making of Paul Simon’s Graceland, and the backdrop of oppression out of which it triumphantly emerged. Director Joe Berlinger takes a closer look at the creation of the landmark album via Simon’s collaborations with a cross-section of South African musicians, in the process highlighting a volatile time in that country’s history, and arguing that the record eventually contributed to the downfall of apartheid, if indirectly. Clean and accurate to its premise without necessarily transcending expectations, “Under African Skies” is a documentary version of “The Help” in that it completely satisfies audiences’ demand for social justice without doing anything surprising in the process.

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  • The Playlist
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    Sundance Review: 'V/H/S' A Solidly Delivered Horror Anthology That Brings The Thrills

    When compared to the pristine picture quality of Blu-ray, the VHS format is a decrepit, grungy thing, so how better to make an anthology of grimy spook stories than to embrace that aesthetic all-around as "V/H/S" does? Made up of six found-footage style segments – few of which actually attempt to replicate the look of old tape, but all of which have their distinct variations in interference and texture – it’s a film consumed with bad deeds recorded and recovered, helmed by a who’s-who of current genre mavens and delivered with a good sense of playfulness around concepts and conceits generally exploited to lure in the gullible masses for the sake of a single opening weekend.

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  • Press Play
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    Rotterdam Dispatch #2: One Stand-out Drives Through the Competition

    This is the first of (hopefully) several dispatches from Press Play Editor Kevin B. Lee at the Rotterdam Film Festival. A full festival wrap-up with highlights will appear at RogerEbert.com.

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  • Press Play
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    OSCARS DEATH RACE: HELL AND BACK AGAIN

    Sgt. Nathan Harris took a gunshot in the hip during an ambush in Afghanistan in 2009. "Hell and Back Again" tells you this without delay; Harris, back on U.S. soil and trying to rehab his way back to active duty, takes care of telling everyone else, compulsively -- Wal-Mart greeters, prospective landlords, fellow Marines. He can't help it. His shattered leg has become his world, and his medications send him spinning away from other topics despite himself.

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  • Press Play
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    MATT ZOLLER SEITZ RECAP: LUCK: If Wishes Were Horses ...

    Before we delve into HBO's "Luck," I need to get some housekeeping out of the way. I wrote about it in a very general way for New York magazine, then asked to recap the first season for Vulture. "Luck" is a rare TV drama that benefits from wonky auteurist scrutiny, and that's how I'm going to approach it. I'm fascinated by series creator David Milch and have written extensively about his great western drama Deadwood for the Star-Ledger, The House Next Door, and Salon.

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  • Leonard Maltin
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    Alexander Payne, Silent Film Aficionado

    Alexander Payne is once again an Oscar-nominated director, for his wonderful film 'The Descendants' (still my favorite picture of 2011), but you may not be aware that his love of cinema runs deep. When he agreed to introduce Lon Chaney in 'He Who Gets Slapped' at last year’s San Francisco Silent Film Festival, he talked about his lifelong passion, and his love of silent film, with such eloquence that I later asked if he would allow me to reprint his speech. This seems as good a time as any.

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  • Shadow and Act
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    Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Cast Of "The Help" Clean Up At The SAG Awards

    I actually fell asleep before this started; long weekend, and I was tired; still recouping and adjusting from my Sundance trip; So I didn't get to watch any of it. And if you missed the show as well, here are the results, hot off the presses:

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  • Thompson on Hollywood
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    SAG Awards Favor 'The Help,' 'The Artist'

    The big upset of the night at the SAG Awards was Best Actor going to Jean Diujardin over George Clooney. The SAG ensemble prize for "The Help" was no surprise. Of the four Oscar nominations for the film, three were for performances. The SAG wins for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer for "The Help" will repeat on Oscar night, as will Christopher Plummer's for "Beginners."

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  • The Playlist
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    Is The Oscar Next? 'The Help' Tops The 18th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards With Three Prizes Including Best Ensemble

    Well, that’s a wrap. It was pretty much between “The Artist” and “The Help,” but the populist civil rights era film edged out the crowd-pleasing silent film. While “The Artist” is still probably the Best Picture favorite at the Oscars, it was “The Help” that won the Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture award at the 18th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards.

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