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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: December 21st, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Aaron Stanford and Zooey Deschanel in “Flakes,” IFC First Take, 2007]

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

“Charlie Wilson’s War”

Honestly, we wish we were a bit more excited about this project than we actually are. Mike Nichols returns to lighter fare after the solid “Closer,” while writer Aaron Sorkin attempts to recover from the debacle that was “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman playing politics? No National Board of Review lovin’ will make this look any better to us.

Opens wide (official site).

“Flakes”

Clothing designer Zooey Deschanel teams up with aspiring rock musician and cereal bar manager Aaron Stanford after discovering that an entrepreneur has stolen their million dollar idea in this indie comedy from director Michael Lehmann. Forget that Lehmann directed the lame Diane Keaton-Mandy Moore rom-com “Because I Said So” earlier this year and remember his first full-length directorial effort “Heathers,” and you’ll see why we’ll always will give Lehmann another shot. Wait, he also made “Hudson Hawk”? Hoooh boy…

Opens in limited release (official site).

“National Treasure: Book of Secrets”

Nicolas Cage returns as treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates in this action adventure pic that asks you to check your brain at the door. We still don’t know what the appeal of this genre is, but after the original 2004 film made over $150 million domestically without a plot (like Gates, we looked hard for one), it’s no surprise Walt Disney Pictures greenlit another adventure that finds Cage in search of the missing pages of John Wilkes Booth’s diary that may unlock a worldwide conspiracy. Oooh, tension!

Opens wide (official site).

“P.S. I Love You”

Hilary Swank plays a recent widow who discovers love letters written by her recently deceased husband (Gerard Butler, minus the massive muscles) in order to help her move on with her life. We’re suspect this film may qualify as the creepiest romantic drama of the season, but we’re willing to put our trust in this directorial effort from “Fisher King” screenwriter Richard LaGravenese in his second teaming with Swank this year.

Opens wide (official site).

“Steep”

Documentarian Mark Obenhaus traces the legacy of extreme skiing from its early pioneers to the daredevils of today. The film premiered earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

The classic Stephen Sondheim musical gets the Tim Burton treatment, which means lots of gothic makeup, a flamboyant Johnny Depp and some voluptuous… acting from Helena Bonham Carter. In 19th century London, Benjamin Barker (Depp) opens a barbershop upstairs from the piemaker Mrs. Lovett (Carter) before the two team up for some sinister dealings. Not to give anything away, but expect some macabre humor that can only be directed from the man who brought us “Beetlejuice.” After a decade of hits and misses for the director (“Big Fish” — okay, “Planet of the Apes” — not okay), Burton is getting his strongest reviews yet, and so far he’s nabbed both the National Board of Review award for best director and his first Golden Globe nomination. It’s about time.

Opens wide (official site).

“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”

The Apatow gang tackles the über-serious awards genre of the music biopic, as John C. Reilly inhabits the fictional role of music legend Dewey Cox that recently earned the actor a long-deserved and very real Golden Globe nomination. Reilly fits right in alongside the Apatow regulars in this country fried spoof that looks more akin to “Airplane!” than “Scary Movie.” While the film’s first trailer seriously lacked the funny, we still have faith in our boy Judd, who we’re hoping finishes 2007 three for three. Not bad for the smartest man in entertainment.

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.