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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: December 7th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: John Cusack in “Grace is Gone,” Weinstein Company, 2007]

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

“The Amateurs”

Michael Traeger’s comedy has been kicking around the festival circuit for the past two years since production completed back in 2004. Jeff Bridges stars as a man in the midst of a midlife crisis who somehow convinces the residents of his small town to band together and make an adult film. Along for the ride are a host of character actors, including Ted Danson, Joe Pantoliano and Tim Blake Nelson.

Opens in Los Angeles and Dallas (official site).

“Atonement”

Keira Knightley has become the go-to gal for period pieces, like some sort of younger, present-day Maggie Smith. Knightley reteams with her “Pride & Prejudice” director Joe Wright as the older sister of fledgling writer Briony Tallis, who as a 13-year-old tells a series of lies, accusing her sister’s lover (James McAvoy) of a crime he did not commit, thereby irrevocably changing the courses of all of their lives.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Billy the Kid”

Jennifer Venditti’s debut documentary follows 15-year-old Maine teenager Billy as he responds to a painful childhood, first-time love and his experience as an outsider in his local town. The film premiered earlier this year at the South by Southwest Film Festival where it won the Competition Award and kicked up some dust after a Variety review accused it of staging scenes.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Dirty Laundry”

“The Ski Trip”‘s Maurice Jamal directs this modern-day prodigal son story about a magazine writer who seems to have the perfect life until a family secret brings him face to face with the traditional southern family he hasn’t seen in ten years.

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

“The Golden Compass”

Director Chris Weitz (of “American Pie”) helms this big-screen adaptation of the controversial Philip Pullman children’s novel, rumors of who’s anti-Christian bias gave distributor New Line more PR than it planned for. The film is set in a parallel universe, in which young Lyla Belacqua (newcomer Dakota Blue Richards) journeys to the far north to save her best friend, whom she fears has been kidnapped by a powerful and secret organization. Let’s hope this film stands out as more than just a “Lord of the Rings” clone.

Opens wide (official site).

“Grace is Gone”

Earlier this year at Sundance, the Weinstein Company purchased this Audience Award-winning drama for several million dollars as critics praised star John Cusack for his role as a father who takes his two girls on a road trip to Florida in order to avoid telling them about their mother’s death in Iraq. Frankly, we’re hoping Cusack finally earns a long-awaited Oscar nomination, though with a fall season awash in Iraq dramas, that amount of recognition may be a bit of a long shot.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Juno”

After this film’s debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, we’re pretty sure the term “this year’s ‘Little Miss Sunshine'” will become an annual staple for years to come. From Best Actress hopes for Ellen Page to “Superbad”‘s Michael Cera to currently on-fir screenwriter Diablo Cody, “Juno” is poised to become a favorite at this year’s Academy Awards. Page plays a sarcastic teenage girl (think “Ghost World”‘s Enid with a bit of a baby bump) who gets impregnated by her best friend and decides to put her baby up for adoption by a local childless couple.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Looking for Cheyenne”

Valerie Minetto’s French drama follows Cheyenne, a Parisian journalist, who decides to move to the middle of nowhere after being laid off, leaving behind her lover Sonia. The film premiered at the 2005 Paris Film Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Man in the Chair”

Christopher Plummer acts in one of his best roles in years as a curmudgeon with a penchant for classic Hollywood movies and booze who helps a troubled teenager (Michael Angarano) create a film for a student contest.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Revolver”

British director and Madonna hubby Guy Ritchie finally gets his long completed follow-up to “Swept Away” a stateside release. “Revolver” finds Ritchie returning to his gangster genre roots, re-teaming with “Snatch”‘s Jason Statham as an ex-con and card shark who enters into an alliance with two mysterious men to bring down the gangster (Ray Liotta) responsible for sending him to prison.

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

“The Walker”

“Auto Focus” director Paul Schrader’s latest features an escort (Woody Harrelson) catering to Washington D.C.’s society ladies who becomes involved in a murder case in order to protect his closest client (Kristen Scott Thomas) and her husband from the ensuing investigation. The film premiered earlier this year at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (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.