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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: October 27th, 2006

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Babel,” Paramount Vantage, 2006]

A round-up of the indie and indie-ish films opening in theaters this week.

“20 Centimeters”

Director Ramón Salazar taps into the “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” formula in this film about a narcoleptic transvestite hoping to rid herself of eight inches of junk to become the real woman she’s always dreamed of. Instead, she falls asleep and dreams up elaborate musical numbers in English, Spanish, and French. Stars the ballsy (er, no pun intended) Mónica Cervera of “Crimen Ferpecto.”

Opens in New York (official site).

“Absolute Wilson”

Katharina Otto-Bernstein documents the life, work, and creative genius of avant-garde theater director Robert Wilson, best known for his work with composer Philip Glass (particularly “Einstein on the Beach”). The film includes interviews with David Byrne, Susan Sontag and Tom Waits.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Babel”

Cate Blanchett takes a bullet to the stomach in the final installment of Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “death” trilogy in which fate, destiny, and other stuff are linked by a horrific tragedy. The film premiered at Cannes to critical acclaim — if it gets the same reception when it arrives here, expect heaps of awards for the director and stars Brad Pitt, Blanchett, and (we hope) Gael García Bernal.

Opens in New York and L.A. (official site).

“The Bridge”

Eric Steel filmed the Golden Gate Bridge for a year, catching almost two dozen of the jumpers who make the bridge the world’s main suicide landmark. Steel’s is the second documentary this week to offer actual footage of death; it has generated it’s fair share of controversy, but other critics have spoken of its humanism.

Opens in limited release (trailer).

“Catch a Fire”

Our favorite Australian filmmaker (sorry, Baz) returns for his first feature in nearly four years, this time staging a political thriller set in 1980s and post-apartheid South Africa. Derek Luke (of “Antwone Fisher”) dons his finest African accent for a role that’s already getting Oscar buzz, as an oil foreman wrongly accused and tortured. Tim Robbins plays the cop attempting to protect himself and his family from a society unraveling at the seams.

Opens in wide release (official site).

“Climates”

Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan cast himself and his real-life wife in his latest film as a couple whose relationship begins to disintegrate while on vacation along the Aegean Sea. Ceylan’s film, which won the FIPRESCI Award at Cannes, has been both praised and mocked for its throwback arthouse themes; still, it’s one of the year’s most beautiful films.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Cocaine Cowboys”

Cocaine has been in our pop cultural lives for quite some time now, and Miami in the early 1980s was (as chronicled in a certain TV show) home to the American cocaine trade. In this documentary, director Billy Corben chronicles the development of the illegal drug trade with interviews of both law enforcement and organized crime leaders. “Miami Vice” composer Jan Hammer developed the film’s score, which is just awesome, mang.

Opens in New York and Florida (official site).

“Conversations with God”

Director Stephen Simon adapts Neale Donald Walsch’s popular books of the same title in which a man asks God some tough questions and becomes a spiritual messenger after hearing God’s answers. Not one of the Tarantino crowd.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Cruel World”

Edward Furlong of “Terminator 2” fame and Jaime Pressly from “My Name is Earl” star in this horror comedy about a deranged runner-up from a reality show who holds a group of sexy co-eds hostage on the set of his own fictitious show in which the losers suffer a deadly fate. Plot be damned, I believe official site).

“Death of a President”

Perhaps the most controversial film to premiere at Toronto this year (“Borat” makes it a tough call), this fictional documentary by British filmmaker Gabriel Range hypothesizes what would happen following an assassination of George W. Bush in 2007 — stronger racial profiling of Arab-Americans, stricter limits of the newly-passed Patriot Act 3, and the three most frightening consecutive words in the English language: President Dick Cheney.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Exit: The Right to Die”

Fernand Melgar’s documentary looks into one of the most taboo subjects in the United States today: legally assisted suicide. The film follows a group of volunteer “escorts” responsible for visiting clients and preparing the lethal solution in Switzerland, the only nation in the world to allow legally assisted suicide, and reportedly includes actual footage of a death.

Opens on Wednesday in New York (official site).

“The Genius Club”

Timothy Chey directs this film in which a group of the world’s seven smartest geniuses are forced to solve the world’s most important problems in a single night, including, and I quote from the film’s website, “hunger, war, cancer, terrorism, rush hour traffic, jerks, and finally the meaning of life.” The film stars the Baldwin from “Bio-Dome,” so there you go.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Romeo and Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss”

It’s that oh-so familiar story of two lovers whose love (or lust?) cannot be…but this time, they’re seals. Yes, seals. In this animated tale for families or just family members who are dying for anything to plop their offspring in front of for an hour or two, William Shakespeare’s condemnation of social mores are thrown out the window for a cuddly romp with Romeo, Juliet, Friar Lawrence and Kissy the kissing fish.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Shut Up and Sing”

The Dixie Chicks turn badass in this documentary by Oscar-winner Barbara Kopple (“Harlan County, U.S.A.”). The film follows the band after lead singer Nathalie Maines’ infamous Bush-bashing comments in Europe in 2003, tracing the lives and careers of the members as they faced political attacks, death threats and the question of the meaning of freedom of speech in post-9/11 America.

Opens in limited release (official site).

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.