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If a male filmmaker desires to throw up grim truth and reality before the eyes of moviegoers and also swoon critics, many of whom subsist on darker themes, he will at some point consider making a film about war or prison. There are no greater immediate settings for tapping perennial sentiments of a mad world, or for demystifying masculinity by scraping it and reducing it to a primal essence. Unlike the ambitious gangster or mob film, reputable prison dramas tend to feature a protagonist that is closer to us, a person thrown to hell rather than embodying it, nakedly amidst wolves as opposed to running with them. (Ironic, given these characters’ punishments at the hands of society and/or government.)

Engrossing and well-crafted but formulaic and borderline genre-fare, A Prophet is the latest prison film to follow this mold and punch its way creatively outward. Winner of the Grand Prix at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, A Prophet has landed on a number of top 10 lists for 2009; with a domestic release forthcoming, we’ll likely see its inclusion on many of this year’s as well.

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Movie Playlist: Robert Pattinson

elcome to another edition of Movie Playlist, where we talk to the writers, directors, and stars about their favorite films. I’ve always found the celebrity playlists on iTunes to be interesting. Most everyone in the film business moved to Hollywood after discovering their love of films. And I’ve always love talking to people about their favorite films. So talking to the people who make the movies about their favorite films just seemed like a natural idea.

Last week I had the chance to sit down with Robert Pattinson, star of Twilight. In the past editions of Movie Playlist, I have gotten pretty much what I’ve expected. The intellectual director usually spouts off a bunch of cool obscure films from the 1950′s and 1960′s, and actors usually focus on the careers of a few key actors. But I’ll admit, Robert’s choices were both surprising and refreshing.

/Film: What’s the movie that you’ve seen the most, do you think, in your lifetime?

Robert Pattinson: I go through periods where I just watch the same thing again and again and again. I’ve been watching this movie called Ivansxtc. It’s a Danny Huston movie. I watched it like 50 times this year.

/Film: Why were you so attracted to that film?

Robert Pattinson: If you watched it, you’d understand. It starts off kind of stupid, but it ends up being Danny Huston. It’s kind of transcendent. He lifts the whole movie. It’s like when you just see an actor and they’ve got the part of their career, and the scene and they’re not messing up. It’s an amazing, amazing movie. I don’t even think you can buy it in America.

/Film: I haven’t even heard of this one.

Robert Pattinson: I know. It’s like they don’t sell it anywhere. They sell it in England everywhere, but I can’t get it anywhere in America.

Robert Pattinson: I grew up watching lots of different Jack Nicholson movies. So, I was like kind of really into Jack Nicholson. Five Easy Pieces – I guess I’ve watched that a lot.

/Film: Why Jack Nicholson?

Robert Pattinson: I think he is literally the only actor who I can guarantee if I see a Jack Nicholson movie which I haven’t seen, even though I’ve seen them all now, but it’s like the same Jack Nicholson on a DVD box or whatever. It’s like seal of approval. So, you know that there’s something going to be worth watching about the movie. Every single thing he’s done, It’s bizarre.

/Film: You’ve never been disappointed by a Jack Nicholson film?

Robert Pattinson: Sometimes a little bit by the movie, but like there’s always something. There’s a few other actors who have quite a good track like him; maybe 90%, but like he has 100%.

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