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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: October 26th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Kevin Bacon in Alison Eastwood’s “Rails & Ties,” Warner Independent Pictures, 2007]

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

“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”

After 2006’s critically underappreciated courtroom drama “Find Me Guilty,” Sidney Lumet reportedly returns to form with this crime thriller about two brothers, both in dire financial straits, who conspire to rip off their parents’ jewelry store, only to have their plan go horribly wrong. The film’s strengthened by a powerful debut script from playwright Kelly Masterson and a solid cast all-around (Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney and an often-naked Marisa Tomei).

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

“Bella”

Alejandro Gomez Monteverde’s debut feature charts the lives of a cook (Eduardo Verástegui) and a waitress (Tammy Blanchard) whose lives are changed forever after an act of kindness binds them together in New York City. The film won the People’s Choice Award at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Black Irish”

“Invincible” screenwriter Brad Gann helms his first directorial feature, based on his own screenplay about a teenage boy (Michael Angarano) in South Boston trying to avoid the pitfalls of his dysfunctional Irish family — a little bit like an Irish-American take on “A Bronx Tale” with less gangsterisms and more Guinness. Brendan Gleeson stars as the boy’s emotionally distant father.

Opens in New York and Boston (official site).

“Dan in Real Life”

We’ve been feeling a bit of Steve Carrell overload for the past year and a half, and we’re still conflicted over his latest choice of project, a comedy/drama from director Peter Hedges, who explored a somewhat similar family dynamic in 2003’s “Pieces of April.” Carrell plays a widower who ends up falling in love with the woman currently in a relationship with his brother. Dane Cook supports in a role that we’re sure is about as forgettable as this sentence, while Juliette Binoche takes on the role of the fraternal love interest.

Opens wide (official site).

“How to Cook Your Life”

Zen priest Edward Espe Brown relates the connection between Zen Buddhism, cooking and everyday life in this documentary from Doris Dörrie. The film premiered earlier this year at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Opens in San Francisco (official site).

“Jimmy Carter Man from Plains”

Academy Award-winner Jonathan Demme chronicles Jimmy Carter’s press tour for his most recent book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” in this doc. We’re expecting this one to battle “Sicko” for the Best Documentary Oscar, though we’re routing for “No End in Sight.”

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Lynch”

It’s tough enough to understand a David Lynch narrative feature, so imagine making a documentary that attempts to get inside the auteur’s mind. Filmed over two years, during Lynch’s production of “Inland Empire,” the doc has made festival rounds while keeping the name of its director under wraps — which makes us wonder if a documentary about David Lynch could only be filmed by Lynch himself.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Mr. Untouchable”

Marc Levin’s well-timed doc charts the rise of junkie-turned-drug kingpin Nicky Barnes, imprisoned for drug smuggling and murder and released after cooperating with authorities after working as an informant — a perfect companion piece to next week’s “American Gangster,” in which Barnes is played by Cuba Gooding Jr.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Music Within”

Steven Sawalich’s debut feature finds Ron Livingston playing Richard Pimentel, a young man with a passion for public speaking who, after returning from a tour of duty in Vietnam with a hearing impairment, finds his purpose as an advocate for people with disabilities. We’re always happy to see our favorite “Office Space” star finding work on the big screen. Melissa George and Michael Sheen support.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Rails & Ties”

Alison Eastwood, daughter of, yes, Clint, directs this Lifetime-y drama about the unlikely bond between a young boy whose mother commits suicide and a train engineer who witnessed her death. Though Eastwood enlists the help of her father’s “Mystic River” co-stars Kevin Bacon and Marcia Gay Harden, early reviews of the film have been mixed since its debut at Telluride earlier this year.

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

“Saw IV”

Another Halloween, another “Saw” film. Yes, Jigsaw and his apprentice Amanda are dead after the third installment, but director Darren Lynn Bousman makes sure to create another twisted and grisly game for FBI agents Strahrn and Perez. With recent news of a projected fifth and sixth entry into the series, it’s looking like we’ll be seeing more adventures of Jigsaw and Amanda long after they’ve passed. We long for the days of Freddy, Jason and, hell, self-parody.

Opens wide (official site).

“Slipstream”

Anthony Hopkins writes, directs and stars in this time-bending noir-comedy about a man caught in a “slipstream” of time falling back on itself as he remembers his own future. The film may sound like the weirdest movie of the fall next to “Southland Tales,” but we’re excited to see into the mind of Hannibal Lecter…er…the guy who brought us Hannibal Lecter. An ace supporting cast includes Gena Rowlands, Christian Slater, John Turturro, Camryn Manheim, Jeffrey Tambor, and many others.

Opens in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago (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.