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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: November 16th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Love in the Time of Cholera,” New Line Cinema, 2007]

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

“Beowulf”

Robert Zemeckis’ last computer animated effort (2004’s “The Polar Express”) creeped us out more than entertained, and we’re still not sure if he should be handling any future animated efforts, especially after seeing footage from “Beowulf” earlier this year. Sure, the fantastical literary source material is rife for a successful adaptation in this post-“Lord of the Rings” era, the cast is to die for (Crispin Glover as Grendel!), and we will forever thank the film’s marketing campaign for the ubiquitous image of an animated Angelina Jolie sideboob, but we’re still turned off by the characters’ stiffness and soulless eyes. The film was co-written by graphic novelist Neil Gaiman and “Pulp Fiction” co-writer Roger Avary, so there’s promise there, at least.

Opens wide (official site).

“Eleven Men Out”

Icelandic director Robert Douglas’s latest sounds similar to the German gay comedy “Guys and Balls,” as the star player on Iceland’s top soccer team is kicked out after admitting he’s gay in an interview with the local press. Down but not out, he soon joins a small amateur team made up of gay men and attempts to fight against the mostly homophobic world of Icelandic sports.

Opens in Los Angeles (official site).

“Love in the Time of Cholera”

Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez was reportedly reluctant to sell the rights to his 1985 novel to Hollywood studios until producer Scott Steindorff (who spent three years courting the writer) purchased them, and judging from early reviews of this latest adaptation of his work, he may be even more hesitant next time. Considering the film’s stellar multicultural cast (Javier Bardem, John Leguizamo, Catalina Sandino Moreno, and Brazilian actress Fernanda Montenegro) and veteran director Mike Newell, it’s a little surprising that early reviews have been so-so at best. Bardem plays Florentino, a man who spends most of his adult life embroiled in carnal affairs after being rejected by the beautiful Fermina.

Opens wide (official site).

“Margot at the Wedding”

Noah Baumbach follows up our personal favorite film from 2005, “The Squid and the Whale,” with another intimate take on family relationships. Moving from Park Slope to the Hamptons, Baumbach’s new comedy follows Margot (Nicole Kidman) and her son Claude as they visit her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who is getting married to the less-than-impressive Malcolm (Jack Black). We’re sorry to see that Baumbach’s latest is mostly underwhelming according to early reviews, but the thoughts of Kidman and Jason-Leigh going head to head with Baumbach’s snappy dialogue is too good to be true.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium”

“Stranger Than Fiction” writer Zach Helm…um…helms this family film that appears to be the bastard child of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” and “Toys.” Dustin Hoffman plays the eccentric (aren’t they always?) 243-year-old owner of a fantasy toyshop who wills his business to his shy and impish store manager Natalie Portman. For a bit of the Bluth family, make sure to catch Jason Bateman in his supporting role as the Wonder Emporium’s stiff and buttoned-up accountant.

Opens wide (official site).

“Redacted”

While we applaud Brian De Palma’s decision to film this difficult Iraq War drama, based on the Mahmudiyah killings and other atrocities committed by American soldiers, we still think the “Scarface” director is more in need of a commercial hit. After the box office failures of “Femme Fatale” and “The Black Dahlia,” De Palma has managed to attract heaps of controversy with his latest since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival — De Palma has drawn the ire of both distributor Magnolia Pictures and the families of the American soldiers. It remains to be seen if, in true Hollywood fashion, nothing spells success like controversy.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Southland Tales”

Richard Kelly’s long-awaited follow-up to his 2001 cult hit “Donnie Darko” has received somewhat confounding reviews since its premiere at Cannes in 2006. We’re hoping that time and a reported 19-minute shearing have improved things since the film’s notoriously cold reception at the French festival, but it’s difficult to say. “Southland Tales” is a Los Angeles-set dystopian comedy about the intersecting stories of an action star stricken with amnesia (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), an adult film actress looking for respect (Sarah Michelle Gellar) and a police officer with a fractured personality (Seann William Scott) as the city prepares for Fourth of July. Could Richard Kelly become cinema’s next David Lynch? If so, this may be his “Dune.”

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

“What Would Jesus Buy?”

Documentarian Rob VanAlkemade’s debut feature film focuses on the issues of the commercialization of Christmas, materialism, over-consumption and globalization as seen through the eyes of activist/performance artist Bill Talen (aka “Reverend Billy”) and his troupe of activists/church choir who protest against corporate entities. The film is produced by “Super Size Me”‘s Morgan Spurlock.

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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GIFs via Giphy

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.