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Opening This Week

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05262008_biggerstrongerfaster.jpgBy Neil Pedley

There’s something for everyone this week at the multiplex, what with Carrie and company offering something for the ladies with “Sex and the City,” the Tae Kwon Do comedy “The Foot Fist Way” being an alternative for the guys, and “Savage Grace”… well, again, let’s just say there’s something for everyone.

“Bigger, Stronger, Faster*”
With everyone from Little League coaches to members of the U.S. Congress weighing in on the issue of performance enhancing drugs in sports, body builder (and former user) Christopher Bell injects his own story into this documentary that explores America’s obsession with excellence and what it realistically takes to achieve it. Bell chronicles his own family’s history of steroid use as a jumping off point to explore the wider love/hate relationship between professional athletes and performance enhancing drugs in a culture where winning is everything and there are no points for second place.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“The Foot Fist Way
Their abusive infant short, “The Landlord,” simply can’t be ignored, and now Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions is giving birth to the company’s first full-length film — a low-budget, anarchic, offbeat martial arts comedy. Danny McBride, who co-wrote the film with his friends, stars as Fred Simmons, a graduate of the Crouching Moron, Hidden Ineptitude School of self-defense, who runs a dojo where he instructs old women and small children on how to deflect oncoming sand from their faces. After discovering his wife’s affair with his movie idol, Chuck “The Truck” Wallace, Simmons snaps and dispenses his rage on anyone he can overpower — mostly the aforementioned old women and small children.
Opens in limited release.

“L’origine de la tendresse and Other Tales”
Alice Winocour, Guillaume Martinez and Alain-Paul Mallard are a few of the filmmakers whose work is showcased in this collection of six French shorts that have been honored at festivals like Cannes and Berlin.
Opens in New York.

“Savage Grace”
After a long absence from the film scene, “Swoon” director Tom Kalin returns to his roots with another retelling of a sensational real life crime of passion in this provocative adaptation of the acclaimed book by Natalie Robins and Steven Aronson. Julianne Moore stars as Barbara Daly, a decadent socialite who marries above her station in tying the knot with plastics baron Brooks Baekeland (Stephen Dillane). But Barbara’s rampant insecurity and desperate need for acceptance drives her into an unhealthy and ultimately incestuous relationship with her gay son, Tony (Eddie Redmayne).
Opens in limited release.

“Sex and The City”
The devil may wear Prada, but the devil was in the details of getting a Prada bag back in the hands of Carrie Bradshaw. Despite reported contract disputes and trouble finding a studio home, HBO’s hugely successful romantic comedy about, well, sex and the city, returns for a big screen outing four years after the show’s final season. Written and directed by the series’ executive producer Michael Patrick King, the two-and-a-half hour jaunt in Jimmy Choos finds Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) finally set to waltz down the aisle with Mr. Big amidst other complications for Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall). Also on hand is Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, who will perhaps try to turn the quartet into a quintet.
Opens wide.

“The Strangers”
Supposedly “inspired by true events,” first-time writer/director Bryan Bertino proves there’s no place like home with a visceral, claustrophobic thriller starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman as a young couple besieged in their isolated vacation house and terrorized by three malevolent masked assailants. Though postponed several times, the film has made good use of the time, putting teasers and trailers into circulation online as far back as August last year — and to be honest, we never thought we’d hear folk singer Gillian Welch on a soundtrack to a horror film.
Opens wide.

B-movie icon Stuart Gordon (“Re-Animator,” “The Pit and the Pendulum”) directs and co-wrote this cruel. black-as-soot comedy based on real-life 2001 incident of a young woman who finds a homeless man lodged in her windshield after a hit and run accident. Fearing that this little snafu might scupper her new promotion, she decides it’s best if she just leaves him there until he dies, except that the selfish sod refuses to cooperate, forcing her to conjure up creative ways to speed up the process. Mena Suvari and Stephen Rea star as the truly odd couple.
Opens in limited release.

“The Unknown Woman”
Winner of multiple awards on the European festival circuit as well as Italy’s pick to represent at the 2007 Oscars, this dark and disturbing thriller is a change of pace for “Cinema Paradiso” director Giuseppe Tornatore. Kseniya Rappoport plays Irena, a Russian prostitute who robs her pimp and flees to Italy, only to become a maid for a family in Northern Italy, where her motives may turn out to be less than squeaky clean. In Italian with subtitles.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on June 27.

“Wonders Are Many”
How do you make an opera about an atomic bomb? “Wonders Are Many” is a documentary that tracks composer John Adams and director Peter Sellers as they work to do just that with their creation “Doctor Atomic.” “Wonders” filmmaker Jon Else weaves in footage of the actual history of atomic weapons with behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the operatic production.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

[Photo: “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*”, Magnolia Pictures, 2008]


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.