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A SoCal gang doc, an Elmore Leonard adaptation and a Hitchcock retake

A SoCal gang doc, an Elmore Leonard adaptation and a Hitchcock retake (photo)

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This week, a strong international lineup stacks up alongside some domestic B-movie madness and traditional big-budget nonsense.

“California Dreamin”
Despite being technically unfinished at the time of its 27-year-old director’s tragic and untimely death in a car accident in 2006, this raucous satire from the late Romanian filmmaker Cristian Nemescu ably illustrates what a great young talent was sadly lost. Partly a slight of American hegemony, partly a where-do-we-go-from-here meditation on his homeland post-Cold War, Nemescu’s darkly comic tragedy was inspired by true events. Unfolding against the backdrop of the Kosovo conflict, the story centers on a train carrying NATO military equipment through Romania before being delayed in a station by a corrupt railway chief in order to exploit its cargo and the U.S. Marines guarding it.
Opens in New York.

“Crips & Bloods: Made in America”
Having previously chronicled the origins and the history of surf culture (“Riding Giants”) and the genesis of the pro skateboarding scene (“Dogtown and Z-Boys”), documentary filmmaker Stacy Peralta turns his attention from the beach to the streets of South Los Angeles for this look at the proliferation of the city’s most notorious gangs. With unprecedented access garnering candid and damning testimony from past and present members, as well as community activists and academics, Peralta examines the storied and bloody rivalry between the Crips and the Bloods, and the hundreds of lives lost to it over the course of 40 years of violence, and searches for answers.
Opens in New York.

“Donkey Punch”
Despite a title that implies some kind of lowbrow Latin American hijinks with Rob Schneider (it is, in fact, a dangerous theoretical sex act), British ad director Olly Blackburn’s feature film debut is a lurid, morbid “good-timers in peril” thriller in the spirit of “The Beach” and “Turistas.” Julian Morris fronts a group of well-off but unrefined guys on the prowl in sunny Spain, while Nicola Burley heads the trio of inebriated gals they entice onto their private yacht. After one of their number is killed with the titular offending act, bonds of trust and friendship morph into violent paranoia as the men sober up and seek to scheme their way out of responsibility when this idyllic cruise quickly descends into a deadly battle of a sexes.
Opens in limited release.

A movie version of a book that espouses deference to great literature and essentially tells its pre-teen target audience to stop watching movies and go read a book is quite the thematic conundrum. Brendan Fraser also has quite the conundrum on his hands as Mo Folchart, a father gifted with the ability to bring characters from books into the human realm whilst trapping a real person between the pages in their place, which poses a problem when he reads his wife into the fantasy novel “Inkheart.” When his daughter Meggie (Eliza Bennett) is also kidnapped by one of the book’s characters, Mo must rifle through its pages while fending off threats from an evil Andy Serkis. Helen Mirren, Paul Bettany and Jim Broadbent also star in this adaptation of the first of German author Corneila Funke’s trilogy of fantasy novels.
Opens wide.

Witness the resurrection of director John Madden’s nearly four-year-old adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s small-time crime drama, thanks to the resurrection of its star’s career by someone else. Following the success of “The Wrestler,” recent Golden Globe winner Mickey Rourke stars as an over-the-hill hitman partnered with a hotheaded scam artist (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who threaten the livelihoods of an unsuspecting husband and wife (Thomas Jane and Diane Lane) when they innocently run afoul of the ruthless pair and find they are being used as pawns in a dangerous federal investigation.
Opens in limited release.

“The Lodger”
Considering the first and most famous adaptation of Marie Belloc Lowndes’ gothic page-turner is a silent screen classic by Alfred Hitchcock, French Canadian helmer David Ondaatje has set himself no small task in crafting an adequate retelling for his feature debut. Set in present day Los Angeles, the film follows a cat-and-mouse game between a dogged police detective (Alfred Molina) and a Jack The Ripper-copycat killer. At the same time, an emotionally disturbed woman (Hope Davis) finds herself inexorably drawn to her dark and mysterious lodger (Simon Baker) who seems intent on hiding something.
Opens in limited release.


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.