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An SF Rom-dram, a K-horror Remake and Liam Neeson Kicking Ass

An SF Rom-dram, a K-horror Remake and Liam Neeson Kicking Ass (photo)

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The long, slow, soul-crushing stagger towards the Oscars starts this week with many of the nominated prestige pictures that came out three months ago getting back into the spotlight after the flurry of Sundance attention has thawed. Meanwhile, the remake machine cranks out another Asian-inspired chiller, Bollywood goes meta, and Liam Neeson kicks some serious ass.

“Blessed is the Match: The Life and Death of Hannah Senesh”
Given the Hollywood prestige crowd’s endless fascination with all things Holocaust, it is unfathomable how the remarkable story of Hannah Senesh remains largely untold. Hailed in her homeland as a modern-day Joan of Arc, the then-20-year-old poet said goodbye to her privileged, middle-class upbringing and enlisted as a paramilitary soldier who volunteered to be part of a unit dropped into Nazi-occupied Yugoslavia in a daring bid to free captive Jews. Filmmaker Roberta Grossman pours through the young woman’s diaries and writings and adds reenactment footage and candid testimony from her family to paint a compelling portrait of a most courageous individual. If this year was any indication, expect a big studio version of her story starring Angelina Jolie’s lips (and perhaps the rest of her) before too long.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on February 6th.

“Luck By Chance”
With their iron-fisted penchant for passionate flamboyance, overt theatricality, and quite ridiculous industry standards regarding the “average” male physique, there really is no industry more primed for a little meta-mockery than Bollywood. Making her debut in the director’s chair, Zoya Akhtar landed a coup in persuading Bollywood icons Aamir Khan and Shahrukh Khan to make cameos together for the first time in the same film before persuading her brother, Farhan Akhtar, to star as the bright-eyed young actor navigating the rough seas of the movie industry hoping to wash up on the shores of stardom. Along the way, he meets a demanding small-time wannabe mogul (Rishi Kapoor), an rising ingenue (Konkona Sen Sharma) and a fatheaded superstar (Hrithik Roshan) at the top of the food chain. In Hindi with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Medicine for Melancholy”
Just as Gus Van Sant’s recent critical favorite “Milk” looked to highlight the plight of gays in San Francisco in the mid ’70s, this Spirit Award-nominated (and much-lauded) romantic dramedy from director Barry Jenkins gives voice to another marginalized ‘Cisco minority in the here and now. In the city with the lowest African-American population in the U.S., Jenkins’ film is a “Before Sunrise”-esque riff in the face of increased gentrification concerning two twentysomething strangers, Micah (“The Daily Show”‘s Wyatt Cenac) and Jo (Tracey Heggins), from different rungs of the class ladder. After hooking up one night, the pair spend the following day touring the city, dissecting a myriad of urban issues, both emotional and intellectual, through chitchat.
Opens in New York.

“New in Town”
As the homespun Minnesota-set masterpiece “Fargo” famously declares, “a lot can happen in the middle of nowhere.” But if this mildly condescending romantic comedy from Danish director Jonas Elmer is anything to go by, much of it takes the form of broadly drawn, formulaic crap where the mocking of Midwestern accents and “kinda funny looking” coats is not just fodder for one-liners, but can constitute an entire second act. Delivering a thinly veiled message about women in the workplace that might even look out of place in the 1950s (not to mention an ad campaign circa 2002’s “Sweet Home Alabama”), the film stars Renée Zellweger as Lucy, an uptight big city gal dispatched due north to oversee restructuring of a blue collar factory. Guilty of the unforgivable crime of wanting to be really good at her job, her frostiness is slowly melted away by small town values and the plant’s hunky foreman Ted (Harry Connick Jr.).
Opens wide.

Quiet like the grave since his Oscar nominated 1994 debut “Before the Rain,” save for the little-seen 2001 Joseph Fiennes drama “Dust,” Macedonian writer/director Milcho Manchevski returns with a dark, psychological thriller set somewhere between this world and the beyond. Bosnian actor Borce Nacev makes his international debut as Dr. Lazar Perkov, a man whose public life presents the image of a promising physician but whose private life consists of being a doormat to his wife, Menka (Vesna Stanojevska), and a disappointment to his mother, Vera, a well-known physician (Sabina Ajrula). After miraculously surviving a near-fatal car accident, Dr. Perkov is plagued by a series of bizarre visits from ghosts sent to deliver a message he may not want to hear. In Macedonian with subtitles.
Opens in New York.


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.