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Opening This Week: Matthew Broderick, the Gits, Guillaume Canet

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06302008_brutalmassacre.jpgBy Neil Pedley

This 4th of July week finds Will Smith’s belligerent man of steel sending the rest of the summer tentpole movies running scared, leaving only the indies to offer any alternative.

“Brutal Massacre”
Does the horror genre need its own “This Is Spinal Tap”? Ready or not, here comes “Brutal Massacre,” a mockumentary comedy about a once-successful horror director (played by “An American Werewolf in London”‘s David Naughton) attempting to make his big comeback film against increasingly insurmountable odds. Be on the lookout for appearances by Gunnar Hansen (“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”‘s Leatherface), Ellen Sandweiss (“The Evil Dead”) and other horror movie stalwarts.
Opens in limited release.

“Diminished Capacity”
Terry Kinney made a name for himself as Tim McManus, the idealistic but world-weary warden of Emerald City in the hard-hitting prison drama “Oz.” “Diminished Capacity,” his debut as a director, also finds Matthew Broderick continues his due diligence to the indie scene with his third movie opening in as many months. Broderick plays a former newsman relegated to editing the funnies after an accident leaves him with a drastically unreliable memory. Heading to a memorabilia swap meet with his high school sweetheart (Virginia Madsen) in tow, the pair look to cash in on a coveted, ultra-rare Cubs baseball card and save his senile uncle’s house from foreclosure.
Opens in limited release.

The Gits Movie
Poised to be another break-out band from the early ’90s Seattle music scene, punk rock band the Gits came to a tragic end when lead singer Mia Zapata was raped and murdered in 1993. This doc, directed by Kerri O’Kane, explores both the band’s legacy and the capture, a decade after the crime, of her murderer.
Opens in limited release.

“Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson”
Filmmaker Alex Gibney, the brain behind the acclaimed documentaries “Taxi To the Dark Side” and “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” takes us on a journey into the heart of “bat country” to tell the story of one of the late, great gun-loving gods of journalism. Charting the highs and lows of the man credited with inventing the first-person “Gonzo” style of reporting, Gibney chronicles the life and times of a true literary artist who spent so long being a legend to so many that he spent the rest of his life fighting an ultimately losing battle to just be a man. Johnny Depp narrates.
Opens in limited release.

Much in keeping with its theme, this high-concept riff on Hollywood’s most bankable genre has gone through a considerable number of costume changes of its own over the years, with a revolving door’s worth of talent attached and unattached, including director Michael Mann, who eventually settled in as one of four producers. Mann’s “Kingdom” collaborator Peter Berg ultimately took the director’s chair, with Will Smith as a cantankerous, alcoholic superhero who reluctantly enlists the help of Jason Bateman’s PR rep after some booze-fueled collateral damage. “Hancock” should provide the definitive answer on whether Smith really is bulletproof at the box office, as early reviews claim the film suffers an identity crisis nearly as crippling as its main character. Charlize Theron also stars, though one wouldn’t know it from the trailer.
Opens wide.

“Holding Trevor”
Unfulfilled lives and dysfunctional relationships abound in this edgy exploration of co-dependency from director Rosser Goodman in her debut feature. Brent Gorski writes, produces and also stars in the title role as the disaffected youth drowning in stagnation of his well-meaning but suffocating social circle. Struggling to break free from his self-destructive, heroin-addicted lover, Trevor braves a shot at happiness after a chance encounter with charismatic Ephram (Eli Kranski).
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

Films that premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival can sometimes carry an unfair stigma, with the first question out of people’s mouths often being “If it’s any good then how come it wasn’t picked for Sundance, SXSW or Tribeca?” Yet a year ago, word coming out of the summer festival was favorable, praising the film as more than the sum of its parts. Former Groundlings member Scott Prendergast makes his feature debut as writer, director and star of this surreal, darkly comic story of a man who, while his brother is deployed in Iraq, helps his despairing sister-in-law (Lisa Kudrow) and her two megabrats by taking a degrading job as a giant blue mascot for a failing internet company.
Opens in limited release.

“Tell No One”
While he might be best known to American audiences as the French backpacker who had his girlfriend pinched by Leonardo DiCaprio in Danny Boyle’s “The Beach,” Guillaume Canet is being hailed as something of a revelation in his native France for his work both in front of and behind the camera. He wrote and directed “Tell No One,” a dark thriller that stars François Cluzet as a pediatrician on the verge of rebuilding his life eight years after he was the prime suspect in his wife’s brutal murder. When damning evidence is discovered once again linking him to a brutal killing he knows nothing about, he receives a mysterious e-mail that alerts him to the fact that his wife might still be alive and that they’re both being watched by sinister forces. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“The Wackness”
Winner of an Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “The Wackness” is writer/director Jonathan Levine’s follow-up to his breakthrough film “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane.” A wistful, pensive look at New York City in the early 1990s through some rather green tinted spectacles, the film stars Josh Peck as a recently graduated stoner who idles away his last summer before heading to college watching new mayor Rudy Giuliani wage war on slackers and dealing pot from an ice cream cart. He has an arrangement with his shrink (Sir Ben Kingsley), who gives him free therapy in exchange for “medication.” The film also grants you a front row seat to watch Sir Ben and the lovely Mary-Kate Olsen, in a supporting role, making out, which is surely worth the price of admission on its own.
Opens in limited release.

“We Are Together”
After rounding the festival circuit for nearly two years, Paul Taylor’s documentary about a choir of South African children orphaned by AIDS finally makes it to theaters. We have nothing snide to add.
Opens in limited release.

[Photo: “Brutal Massacre,” Anchor Bay Entertainment, 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.