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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: July 13th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Captivity,” Lionsgate, 2007]

A round-up of the best (or worst) $10 you’ll spend this week.

“Captivity”

The last we saw of director Roland Joffé was the 2000 period piece “Vatel.” Now the two-time Oscar-nominee is behind the wheel of controversy-magnet “Captivity,” the latest entry in the “torture porn” genre fronted by the “Hostel”s and “Saw”s. “Captivity” generated plenty of talk due to a scandalous and soon pulled marketing campaign featuring a bound and gagged Elisha Cuthbert — it remains to be seen if the film will be able to capitalize on the publicity.

Opens wide (official site).

“Drama/Mex”

Taking a page out of the Alejandro González Iñárritu handbook, Mexican director Gerardo Naranjo interlaces three separate stories — one following a suicidal old man, another a 15-year-old runaway girl, the third a young couple after their tragic breakup — all set against the Acapulco sunset. The film premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

This July is set to be a big Harry Potter month, as everyone’s favorite Hogwarts student (depending on who you ask…) returns both in the series’ fifth film iteration and its seventh and final book. New and relatively unknown director David Yates helms the arguably darkest “Harry Potter” film to date. Ace casting of Imelda Staunton as the deliciously evil Umbridge makes us have high hopes for this one.

Opens wide (official site).

“Hula Girls”

A group of young women in a Japanese coal-mining town look to save their home from an economic and moral depression by building a Hawaiian village tourist attraction, despite knowing little about the culture. Korean-Japanese director Lee Sang-il’s film won the Best Director and Best Screenplay awards at this year’s Japanese Academy Awards.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Interview”

Steve Buscemi riffs on the cinema of murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in this American remake of van Gogh’s 2003 film of the same name. Buscemi stars as a faded political journalist forced to interview a shallow soap opera star — the two are seemingly from entirely different worlds, but each begin to reveal their true selves to the other. We’ve been generally unimpressed with Sienna Miller since “Layer Cake,” but early reviews claim that Miller holds up her own against Buscemi.

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

“My Best Friend”

Arthouse fave Patrice Leconte directs this situation comedy about an unlikable man (an irascible Daniel Auteuil) who enlists the help of a charming taxi driver (Dany Boon) to prove to his business partner (Julie Gayet) that he has a best friend.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Shortcut to Happiness”

We remember hearing about this film way back before star Jennifer Love Hewitt became a ghost whisperer — Alec Baldwin’s troubled directorial debut faced financial ruin until the Yari Film Group picked up the film for distribution in 2006. Previously titled “The Devil and Daniel Webster” and based on the short story by Stephen Vincent Benét, it seems ripe for… going straight to DVD. When a film’s trailer reminds one of 2000’s “Bedazzled,” that’s not a good sign.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Talk to Me”

While most filmgoers this summer seem to be busy living free or dying hard, we hope that Kasi Lemmon’s latest feature, which may be one of the strongest films of the season, won’t be overlooked. Don Cheadle stars as Ralph “Petey” Greene, an ex-con turned radio DJ with the help of program director Dewey Hughes (Chiwetel Ejiofor). We can’t wait for the pairing of Cheadle and Ejiofor; here’s hoping Academy voters remember that come the end of the year.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Tekkonkinkreet”

Director Michael Arias, one of the creative forces behind the “Animatrix” series, makes history as the first non-Japanese filmmaker to helm a major anime film with “Tekkonkinkreet.” The film follows two orphans with completely opposite personalities who must team up to prevent the destruction of Treasure Town. The film’s plot may seem a little silly, but the film itself is purported to be a visual delight.

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

“Time”

A woman puts herself through extensive plastic surgery in order to save her failing relationship in this drama directed by “3-Iron”‘s Kim Ki-duk. The film won the Plaque for International Film at last year’s Chicago International Film Festival.

Opens in New York (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.