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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: October 12th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Jude Law in “Sleuth,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2007]

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

“Berkeley”

TV director Bobby Roth’s first feature since 2003’s “Manhood” is the coming-of-age tale of a straight-laced conservative 18-year-old who gets caught up in the youth revolution movement during his freshman year at UC Berkeley in 1968. The film draws on Roth’s experiences attending the college in the ’60s.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Canvas”

“Canvas” explores mental illness through the eyes of a boy learning to cope with his schizophrenic mother, and was apparently inspired by writer-director Joseph Greco’s childhood. Joe Pantoliano and Marcia Gay Harden star as the boy’s parents.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Control”

Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis gets the biopic treatment in music video director Anton Corbijn’s feature film debut, a black and white account of his life and death by suicide at age 23. “Control” made a splash earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival, netting the Golden Camera and Prix Regards Jeune awards. The relative unknown Sam Riley stars as Curtis, while Samantha Morton plays his high school sweetheart turned tortured wife.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Elizabeth: The Golden Age”

We have Shekhar Kapur to thank for introducing us to then-newcomer Cate Blanchett in 1998’s “Elizabeth,” which earned a slew of awards and Oscar nominations. Since then, Blanchett’s gone on to become one of Hollywood’s most dependable and exciting leading ladies, while Kapur misfired with 2002’s “The Four Feathers.” But in a season of formulaic sequels and threequels, it’s nice to return to an Elizabethan England where Blanchett reprises her role as the enigmatic queen struggling to maintain power. Clive Owen, Geoffrey Rush and Samantha Morton support.

Opens wide (official site).

“Fat Girls”

This queer coming-of-age film tells the story of Rodney, a gay Texan high schooler who accepts the “fat girl” within as he wrestles with relationships, sexuality and his evangelical family with the help of his overweight best friend Sabrina. Ash Christian triple bills as the film’s director, writer and star. The film premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

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

“The Final Season”

“The Sandlot” director David M. Evans gives the feel-good sports film another go with this tale of the final season of the Norway Tigers baseball team in Norway, IA, before the school is merged into another. Sean “Samwise Gamgee” Astin plays an assistant coach hired to lead the team to victory while Powers Boothe plays the gung-ho winning coach who was fired following a championship season.

Opens wide (official site).

“Golda’s Balcony”

“Rhoda” star Valerie Harper plays Golda Meir, Israel’s first female Prime Minister, in this film that focuses on the crisis days of the 1973 Yom Kippur War and Meir’s struggles to maintain Israel’s survival and peace in the Middle East. The film was adapted from William Gibson’s long-running Broadway play.

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

“Khadak”

On the frozen steppes of Mongolia, a young nomad is confronted with his destiny after animals fall victim to a plague that threatens to eradicate the lifestyle of his people. Filmmakers Peter Brosens and Jessica Hope Woodworth co-direct and co-wrote this drama.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Lars and the Real Girl”

So you’ve just been nominated for your first Oscar, you finagled a strong role opposite Anthony Hopkins — what to do next? Clearly, the correct decision is to star in a romantic comedy about a guy and a Real Doll. Yes, Ryan Gosling plays a delusional young man who falls in love with a doll he finds on the Internet, freaking out the people in his life. Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer and Kelli Garner support in director Craig Gillespie’s follow-up to “Mr. Woodcock.”

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Sleuth”

Kenneth Branagh directs this remake of the 1972 film of the same name, with Michael Caine taking over Laurence Olivier’s role as a wealthy mystery writer and Jude Law taking over Caine’s original role as lover of the writer’s wife. We’re normally not very crazy about remakes of classic films, but the thought of Caine and Law going “mano a mano” is too good to pass up.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?”

“Diary of a Mad Black Woman” director Tyler Perry writes and directs this comedy based on his stage play about an adulterous incident that causes four couples to take a hard look at their respective marriages over the course of a week-long vacation. After achieving solid box office success with “Diary” and his follow-up “Madea’s Family Reunion,” Perry finally underperformed with early 2007 film “Daddy’s Little Girls,” the first of his films in which he didn’t star. “Why Did I Get Married?” features Perry in his first lead role sans Madea drag.

Opens wide (official site).

“We Own the Night”

Director James Gray seems to be somewhat of an acquired taste — his first two films, the grim crime genre pics “Little Odessa” (1994) and “The Yards” (2000) reek of Scorsese-lite, but there’s something about his latest that just excites us to no end. “Yards” co-stars Mark Wahlberg and Joaquin Phoenix play estranged brothers, one a cop and the other a shady club owner, whose lives collide after run-ins with the Russian mafia. Robert Duvall and Eva Mendes co-star.

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.