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Opening This Week

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03172008_boardinggate.jpgBy Neil Pedley

SXSW recently concluded a week-long unveiling of some of the best and brightest new talent that indie film has to offer, but that didn’t deter established players from forging ahead with the fine traditions that have this week brought us an Owen Wilson kiddie comedy, a poker mockumentary and an imitation of whatever Asian cinema was doing four years ago.

“Boarding Gate”
Three-time Palme D’Or nominee Olivier Assayas delivers a sleek and sexually charged thriller that stars the irresistible Asia Argento as a gal on the run from Europe to Asia as she indulges in affairs with both Michael Madsen’s high-flying financier and the hit man sent to target him. If you can take your eyes off of Argento, keep one eye open for a supporting turn by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon.
Opens in limited release.

“Drillbit Taylor”
Judd Apatow tries to appeal to the kiddie crowd with this slapstick comedy co-written by Apatow associate Seth Rogen about a troupe of high school nerds who hire Owen Wilson’s bungling bodyguard to protect them from bullies. While Wilson’s apparent suicide attempt in August 2007 has made this a hard sell for Paramount, the film is filled with funny faces including Leslie Mann, Danny McBride and Lisa Lampanelli. Indie film fans should take note of the casting of Alex Frost as one of said bullies — he played a bullying victim turned assassin in Gus Van Sant’s controversial 2003 film “Elephant.”
Opens wide.

“The Grand”
We’ve been spared a Will Ferrell jai alai satire (so far), but there are few sports that have yet to become the basis of a sports comedy. In this most recent example, “The Grand” lampoons poker’s newfound image as the coolest game in town with a variety of numbskulls and deluded wannabes competing for the grand prize in a tournament at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. In addition to a galaxy of poker’s finest players dealing themselves into the action, the film boasts a cast including the likes of Woody Harrelson, Ray Romano, Cheryl Hines and (yes!) Werner Herzog.
Opens in limited release.

“The Hammer”
Perhaps it’s fitting that the reunion of “Kissing Jessica Stein” writer/actress Heather Juergensen and director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld is for this bizarre but affectionate comedy about second chances. Did we mention it stars “The Man Show”‘s Adam Carolla? The radio host reportedly drew from his own life experience to pen the story and to star as Jerry Ferro, an ex-amateur boxer turned construction worker who decides to put the gloves back on and launch a bid for Olympic glory as he approaches 40.
Opens in limited release.

“Love Songs”
Novelist, playwright and children’s author Christophe Honoré continues the renaissance of the modern day musical with this tale of young love in Paris starring Louis Garrel and Ludivine Sagnier as a couple who attempt to kick start their stalled romance with a ménage-a-trois that only succeeds in complicating matters further.
Opens in New York.

“Meet the Browns”
Tyler Perry may not be earning cred with the critics, but he has snagged his first Oscar-nominated lead in Angela Bassett, who stars in Perry’s latest parable as a woman struggling to hold her family together following the death of her father, who she never knew. Audiences might already know about “the Browns” from its run as a play in 2004, but after a two-film absence, Lionsgate is hoping an appearance by Perry’s signature character, Madea, will be cause for celebration.
Opens wide.

“Planet B-Boy”
Filmmaker Benson Lee makes his debut with this colorful documentary looking to shed some light on what he feels is the criminally misunderstood phenomenon of break dancing. Lee takes us around the world, charting the history of the dance, its relationship to martial arts, its courtship by pop culture and its free-flowing, improvisational nature as a form of self-empowerment and free expression. Frankly, we’re in favor of anything that makes us feel less ashamed of loving “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.”
Opens in limited release.

Jonah Markowitz writes and directs this melancholic tale of self-sacrifice and forbidden love that was an acclaimed staple of the gay and lesbian film festival circuit last year. Trevor Wright stars as Zach, a young man forced to put his life on hold to care for his younger brother. When love blossoms between himself and his best friend’s brother, Shaun (Brad Rowe), Zach is torn between his obligations to his family and the hopes and dreams he still harbors for himself. If nothing else, the art direction should look great — Markowitz cut his teeth in the art department on films ranging from “Saw” to “House of Sand and Fog.”
Opens in limited release.

Now that Hollywood has exhausted the Japanese horror genre, the producers behind “The Ring” and “The Grudge” have turned their attention to Thailand with this remake of Banjong Pisanthanakun’s 2004 thriller of the same name. A young couple (Joshua Jackson & Rachael Taylor) honeymooning in Tokyo discovers ghostly images lingering in their vacation photographs. Incidentally, the U.S. is not the first country to remake “Shutter” — last year, the Tamil film industry adapted a version of their own, entitled “Sivi.”
Opens wide.

“Under the Same Moon”
While the immigration debate rages on all around us, filmmaker Patricia Riggen’s tender family portrait focuses on the loving bond between mother and child that even thousands of miles of separation cannot break. After his grandmother passes away, a young boy has no choice but to risk the treacherous journey across the U.S. border in the hope that he and his mother can be reunited. This is Riggen’s first dramatic feature, following her debut documentary that received a short filmmaking award at Sundance 2005.
Opens in limited release.

[Photo: “Boarding Gate,” Magnolia, 2007]


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.


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:


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.


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!


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.


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.



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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GIFs via Giphy

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.”


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. 


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.