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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: December 27th, 2007 and January 4th, 2008

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Denzel Washington in “The Great Debaters,” MGM, 2007]

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

“Alien vs. Predator: Requiem”

The eternal question of “who would win in a fight, an alien or a predator” wasn’t quite answered the first time around, clearing the way for this second chance to watch our favorite ’80s sci-fi creatures (sorry, gremlins) duke it out at the expense of the human race. We don’t expect gold from a movie about warring franchises, here’s hoping this sequel might be better, since original director Paul W.S. Anderson had no hand in its making.

Opens wide December 25th (official site).

“A Bloody Aria”

This South Korean thriller from director Shin-yeon Won tracks a womanizing college professor who suspects a group of dangerous youths of killing a student he attempted to seduce.

Opens in limited release on January 4th (official site).

“The Bucket List”

Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson team up in this geriatric buddy comedy about two terminally ill cancer patients who head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. We’re a little miffed to learn that this film, directed by Rob Reiner (really?), has been receiving a number of strong reviews, even earning a spot on the National Board of Review’s best films of 2007. (Again, really?)

Opens in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto on December 25th (official site).

“Chuck Close”

The late filmmaker Marion Cajori’s final film chronicles the career of painter Chuck Close, popularly known as the re-inventor of portraiture. Close’s subjects — family, friends, artists — offer insight into his work and Close’s influence on their own. Cajori passed away shortly after completion of the film in 2006.

Opens in New York on December 26th (official site).

“The Great Debaters”

Denzel Washington directs and stars in this inspirational teacher movie about a professor at an all-African-American college in Texas who leads his underdog debate team into a competition with Harvard in 1935. With a strong supporting turn by Forest Whitaker, plus Oprah Winfrey as one of the film’s producers, we’re pretty sure this film will make a whole bunch of noise come Oscar season. Sure, we’ve seen Washington play similar roles recently (we certainly remember the “Titans”), we’ve no problem watching him do it again.

Opens wide on December 25th (official site).

“Honeydripper”

John Sayles’ latest Southern-set drama is about a club owner (Danny Glover) who attempts to pass off a vagrant as a famous guitar player one night in his club in hopes of saving himself from bankruptcy. The film went on to win the best screenplay award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival earlier this year.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 28th (official site).

“The Killing of John Lennon”

It appears that 2008 will feature competing Mark David Chapman projects, as the man who killed John Lennon is the subject of dueling biopics in the new year. First up is this one, an indie from television director Andrew Piddington that features relative newcomer Jonas Bell in the role of the assassin. Much of the film’s dialogue is lifted directly from Chapman’s real-life journal, allowing the viewer to get into the mind of a murderer who killed for fame.

Opens in New York on January 2nd (official site).

“One Missed Call”

2008 starts off slowly with this J-horror remake of the Takashi Miike film “Chakushin ari” featuring Shannyn Sossamon and Edward Burns doing battle against dark forces responsible for victims getting voice mail messages from their future selves detailing the time of their deaths. Our favorite line of 2008 so far? “That’s not my ring tone.” Sounds like a horror masterpiece in the making.

Opens wide on January 4th (official site).

“The Orphanage”

These days we get excited about anything Guillermo del Toro is involved in. The “Pan’s Labyrinth” director had a strong hand in bringing to life this Spanish horror import about a woman who starts to get concerned about her son’s new imaginary friends. Borrowing elements from other “creepy children” horror films such as “The Others” and del Toro’s own “The Devil’s Backbone” certainly should bolster the suspense.

Opens in limited release on December 28th (official site).

“Persepolis”

Comic book artist Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novels detail life in Iran during the Islamic revolution from the perspective of a young and precocious girl. After winning the Grand Jury Prize earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival, her directorial debut made numerous headlines after being banned from both the Bangkok International Film Festival and Satrapi’s homeland of Iran despite being one of the best received movies of the year.

Opens in limited release on December 25th (official site).

“There Will Be Blood”

Daniel Day-Lewis alone has us bubbling with anticipation. But the teaming of our favorite method actor with the not-prolific-enough director Paul Thomas Anderson for a film inspired by Upton Sinclair’s novel “Oil!” leaves us positively verklempt. The film already has won a slew of awards, been on a number of top ten lists and topped this year’s indieWIRE critics’ poll, and while we can’t predict whether Day-Lewis will add a second Oscar to his mantle, we’re sure he’ll at least get a nomination. Kudos to Anderson for stepping out of his comfort zone with what originated as a writing experiment for the director after coming across Sinclair’s novel.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 26th (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.