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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: November 10th, 2006

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Come Early Morning,” Roadside Attractions, 2006]

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

“The Cave of the Yellow Dog”

A young girl must choose between her family and her pet, after she decides to adopt a dog against her father’s wishes. This is the sophomore film from Mongolian filmmaker Byambasuren Davaa, who previously directed 2003’s “The Story of the Weeping Camel.”

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

“Christmas at Maxwell’s”

Just reading the synopsis for this movie made me throw up in my mouth a little, but at least it’s good to know someone is still making Christmas movies without Tim Allen. The rich and successful Austin family begins to fall apart as mother Suzie is diagnosed with a terminal illness. The Austins decide to spend their last Christmas as a family in a tiny lake town, learning that community and love will keep them together. Schmaltz is really difficult to stomach.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Come Early Morning”

Ashley Judd returns from whatever rock she’s been hiding under the past few years in one of her two indie-ish films to be released this fall (“Bug” being the other). Joey Lauren Adams of “Chasing Amy” fame makes her directorial debut telling the story of a Southern woman named Lucy (Judd) whose search for love leaves her with far too many one-night stands. Early reviews seem sorta mixed; critics find it doesn’t set itself apart from all those other indie movies that are just like is.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Copying Beethoven”

Ed Harris dons the year’s most ridiculous wig in this fictionalized account of the last year of composer Ludwig van Beethoven’s life directed by Agnieszka Holland, who made 1991’s Academy Award-nominated “Europa Europa.”

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Fuck”

Filmmaker Steve Anderson documents the many wonderful ways in which the title word has impacted our society, from Hollywood films to stand-up comedy, the schoolyard to Congress, to its constant redefinitions in the English language. The doc including interviews with news anchor Sam Donaldson, author Hunter S. Thompson, filmmaker Kevin Smith and many others, but without an interview with Samuel L. Jackson, we have to wonder how it could do “the F word” justice.

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

“Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus”

Nicole Kidman returns to form for the first time since “The Hours” in Steven Shainberg’s first film after his debut “Secretary” in this biopic about famed photographer Diane Arbus. Though this film’s seemingly got “OSCAR” slapped all over it, early reviews call the movie pretty mediocre. It still might be an interesting film, as Shainberg has been hailed for straying from the standard biopic fare.

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

“A Good Year”

Russell Crowe tries to make America fall in love with him again in this sweet movie directed by his former “Gladiator” collaborator, Ridley Scott. Crowe plays an Englishman who inherits a vineyard in Provence following the death of his uncle, only to find conflict when an American woman claims the property is hers. Neither Crowe nor Scott seem prime for such lighthearted work; hopefully no hotel clerks were harmed in the making of this film.

Opens wide (official site).

“Harsh Times”

We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again, but Christian Bale is one of the best working actors in film today. After turning in highly underrated performances in “American Psycho” and “The Machinist”, Bale stars as an ex-Army Ranger who cruises the South Central streets of Los Angeles with his best friend, played by “Six Feet Under”‘s Freddy Rodriguez, as they encounter the violence and horror of everyday street life. David Ayer, the film’s director and also co-creator of “Training Day”, takes a page from “Taxi Driver” in his portrayal of Bale’s unsympathetic yet complex protagonist.

Opens wide (official site).

“Iraq in Fragments”

Filmed over two years, documentarian James Longley’s film tells stories of modern day Iraq from the perspective of the people who live there. The film is divided into three acts, telling stories of a fatherless 11-year-old’s quest for survival, a town’s struggle for political democracy, and the liberation of a Kurdish village by American soldiers.

Opens in New York (official site).

“The Last Atomic Bomb”

This documentary follows the activism of nuclear survivor Sakue Shimohira, a woman who survived the Nagasaki bombing of 1945. The film charts Shimohira’s international travels as she meets with Presidents Bush and Chirac and Prime Minister Tony Blair, inviting the world leaders to visit Nagasaki and understand the lasting effects of nuclear power.

Opens in New York (official site).

“The Return”

No, this is not a re-release of the far superior Andrei Zvyagintsev 2003 film of the same title, but yet another horror film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. The former “Buffy” actress stars as a traveling business woman who begins receiving nightmares of a murder that happened fifteen years ago and is drawn to an old farmhouse where the murder may have taken place. The film is helmed by “The Warrior”‘s Asif Kapadia, so there’s some promise there, at least.

Opens wide (official site).

“Stranger Than Fiction”

Will Ferrell continues his onslaught on the senses in this new film by Marc Foster, though this time with the support of a promising cast including Dustin Hoffman, Queen Latifah, Emma Thompson, and the ubiquitous Maggie Gyllenhaal (not that we’re complaining). Screenwriter Zach Helm takes a cue from the Charlie Kaufman school of filmmaking in this blend of reality and fiction in which an IRS auditor played by Ferrell suddenly finds himself the subject of narration only he can hear, affecting his entire life from his work to his death.

Opens wide (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.