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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: November 24th, 2006

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Backstage,” Strand Releasing, 2006]

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

“Backstage”

French filmmaker/actress Emmanuelle Bercot writes and directs this film about an obsessed fan whose life is turned upside down when her life crosses with her favorite pop idol. The film screened to some acclaim at Tribeca earlier this year, and now settles in at the Film Forum.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Deck the Halls”

A film about the extreme human materialism of the year’s most excessive spending season, “Deck the Halls” gets special mention because of Danny DeVito. The movie looks like pure crap, but his turn in the recent television show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” is comedic gold. Actually, forget this movie, just watch “It’s Always Sunny.”

Opens wide (official site).

“Déjà Vu”

Director Tony Scott should be congratulated for keeping the production of this film in New Orleans following the Hurricane Katrina disaster, but judging from the trailer, it’s going to be another visually tedious headache with Scott relying on lightning-quick edits and saturated colors to deliver a story about a cop (Denzel Washington, who King Kong’s got nothin’ on) who continuously experiences déjà vu until he can prevent a ferry explosion. Ice, the Hebrew Hammer, and Jesus Christ are all cast in supporting roles (er… Val Kilmer, Adam Goldberg, and James Caviezel, respectively).

Opens wide (official site).

“Dhoom 2”

Anybody expecting a sequel to that video game movie starring The Rock will be sorely disappointed by this Bollywood thriller about cops and art thieves and car chases and hot girls and all that jazz. It’s like a Bruckheimer film, but in Hindi.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Fountain”

Finally. That’s all I have to say. Finally. Darren Aranofsky follows up 2000’s “Requiem for a Dream” with this often-delayed film that lost $40 million from its budget along with its two original stars, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Billed initially as an time-spanning epic, the film was reportedly booed at its world premiere in Venice in September. Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz took pay cuts to play lovers whose courtship lasts 1000 years. People, just give Aronofsky a break and see this movie; I’m just glad he’s finally getting something released.

Opens wide (official site).

“The History Boys”

This Alan Bennett play about an unruly class of history students who attempt to navigate the college admissions process comes courtesy of theater director Nicholas Hytner, who retained much of the play’s original cast for this film adaptation. Hytner has a history of filming adaptations of successful plays, though his films range from good (“The Madness of King George”) to really awful (“The Object of My Affection”).

Opens in limited release (Official site).

“Opal Dream”

“The Full Monty” director Peter Cattaneo goes the family route in this children’s movie about a young girl’s relationship with her two best friends (both imaginary) in the Australian Outback.

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

“Our Daily Bread”

Nikolaus Geyrhalter directs this documentary about the world of industrial food production and high-tech farming. The film, which consists of wide-screen tableaus in which animals are borne, bred, fed, and gutted, apparently has no narration or dialogue in order to allow the images to simply speak for themselves. This film follows on the heels of “Fast Food Nation.” We haven’t eaten in weeks.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny”

We don’t understand the cult status behind Jack Black. Outside of his humorous turns in “School of Rock” and “High Fidelity,” we just don’t see why people think Black is funny. His latest film details the origins of Tenacious D, the self-proclaimed “greatest band on Earth”, as Black and his partner Kyle Gass go searching for a magical guitar pick housed in a rock-and-roll museum some 300 miles away. We continuously get the feeling Tenacious D is one big inside joke we’re not in on — ’cause, why aren’t we laughing?

Opens wide (official site).

“Valley of the Wolves: Iraq “

Serdar Akar and Sadullah Senturk generated a huge amount of controversy with this Turkish film, written off in the media as both “anti-Semitic” and “anti-American.” The film is about a group of eleven Turkish soldiers stationed in Iraq who are imprisoned by an allied American squad, who aim to be the only power in the region, and are subsequently tortured as a result. For once, America is not “the good guy”, a theme American studios seem reluctant to portray these days. Catch it if you can find it, if only to see ol’ Gary Busey playing “Doctor.”

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.