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Opening This Week: December 1st, 2006

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “3 Needles,” Wolfe Releasing, 2006]

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

“10 Items or Less”

Stop the presses. Morgan Freeman moves on from that same supporting role he’s been cast in for the past decade or so and plays the lead in this small indie about a… well… major movie star whose pickiness for screen roles lands him in Paz Vega’s small ethnic supermarket for research. Vega offers Freeman a ride home, the two learn about lots of stuff on the car ride back, and we continue to miss the Freeman of the “Shawshank” days. Challenge us, Morgan!

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (official site).

“3 Needles”

“The Hanging Garden”‘s Thom Fitzgerald directed and wrote this film containing three stories revolving around the theme of global epidemic — the film’s release coincides with the anniversary of the World AIDS Day. Shawn Ashmore stars as a Canadian porn star suffering from HIV, while Lucy Liu plays a reckless blood buyer in China, and Olympia Dukakis, Chloe Sevigny, and Sandra Oh are a trio of Catholic nuns trying to care for those infected in Africa.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj”

One of the lamer college comedies of recent years gets an unnecessary sequel this week, but with “Harold and Kumar”‘s Kal Penn as the film’s main character, Taj Mahal Badalandabad might be more than a one-note stereotype (amidst all the beer and boobs and farts, of course).

Opens wide (official site).

“The Nativity Story”

Nevermind the fact that Catherine Hardwick previously directed a film about boozin’ and druggin’ teenage girls and that star Keisha Castle-Hughes is sixteen and pregnant, “The Nativity Scene” is expected to be sugar and fluff all the way through. The film chronicles the journey of Mary and Joseph as they give birth to a baby boy who may or may not be the son of God. We’re still not sure, but we’re expecting it to be a lot more pleasant to sit through than “The Passion.”

Opens wide (official site).


Director John Stockwell is used to filming hot people in wet and sweaty environments, as he did recently with “Into the Blue” and “Blue Crush.” Apparently, now he gets to kill those people in his latest. As a terrifying bus accident maroons a group of young travelers in the Brazilian jungle, they start to discover that the jungle hosts a terrifying secret. It’s kinda like “Hostel” meets “Lost,” except for the part where we care.

Opens wide (official site).

“Two Weeks”

Writer and director Steven Stockman casts Ben Chaplin, Thomas Cavanagh, Julianne Nicholson and Glenn Howerton as siblings who gather at their dying mother’s house for one quick, last goodbye but wind up trapped together for two weeks. Somewhere in this comedy is a tad bit of melodrama, I’m expecting, but with Sally Field playing the mother of the family, this film looks promising. It releases this week for Oscar competition in LA before a wider release next March.

Opens in Los Angeles (official site).


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.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

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:


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.


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!


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.


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.



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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GIFs via Giphy

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.”


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. 


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.