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Philosophers, Street Fighters and the Jonas Brothers

Philosophers, Street Fighters and the Jonas Brothers (photo)

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This week’s offerings include an art film about the biblical, a documentary exploring the philosophical, a thriller espousing the dangers of the technological and a film about a badass dude with claws that kills people. We know which one we’re going to see.

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“An American Affair”
We’re a country enamored with the marvels of our great democracy while also continuing a nasty habit of cultivating political dynasties, the thrall of which we continue to find irresistible, and there is no finer example of that than the Kennedy family. Put out by tiny indie distributor Screen Media Films, this feature from director William Olsson charts the coming of age of a young boy named Adam (Cameron Bright) who watches and wonders about John F. Kennedy’s affair with a woman (Gretchen Mol) living across the street in 1963.
Opens in limited release.

“Birdsong (El Cant Dels Ocells)”
Celebrated Spanish auteur Albert Serra returns with another austere exploration of history and mythology set against his beloved Catalan landscape. This latest is a mostly silent and largely plotless ramble concerning the Three Wise Men (Lluís Carbó, Lluís Serrat Batlle and Lluís Serrat Masanellas) as they bicker and subsist on crumbs of faith en route through the mountains and across the desert in search of divinity. In Catalan and Hebrew with subtitles.
Opens in New York on Wednesday, February 25th.

“Bob Funk”
Adapted from his own play, Craig Carlisle makes his screen directorial debut with this misanthropic comedy of drink and despair. Michael Leydon Campbell stars as the titular Bob, an inebriated lounge lizard fast-tracking his way to the bottom of the family furniture business, much to the exasperation of his mother and boss (Grace Zabriskie). Rejected by the company’s new hire, played by Hollywood’s reigning Miss Vanilla Rachel Leigh Cook, this is one kick in the complacency too many for Bob, who vows to kick the booze and turn his life around in order to win her heart.
Opens in limited release.

“Crossing Over”
He might not quite have the resume of Steven Soderbergh, but writer/director Wayne Kramer reworks his 1996 short film, also called “Crossing Over,” into a political hot potato story in a way not seen since “Traffic.” Slipping effortlessly back to serious scowling mode following “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Really Bad Ideas,” Harrison Ford leads an eclectic ensemble of hip newcomers and aging icons including Ashley Judd, Sean Penn, Alice Eve, Alice Braga and Ray Liotta in a multi-stranded culture clash drama set amidst the murky world of illegal immigration in Los Angeles.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Echelon Conspiracy”
Of course, films are entertainment first and foremost, but they can also teach you things, and one thing that’s been made abundantly clear in recent years is that if your phone rings and you don’t recognize the number, DO NOT answer it because terrible things will happen. Beaten to the paranoia punch by last summer’s “Eagle Eye,” director Greg Marcks (“11:14”) delivers another high-tech thriller with Big Brother overtones. Shane West stars as the hapless young man targeted by malevolent AI when a brand new cell phone is dropped in his lap and he finds himself embroiled in a dangerous government black bag surveillance program.
Opens in limited release.

“Examined Life”
We might have a little way to go to the Fourth of July, but courtesy of Canadian doc filmmaker Astra Taylor (“Žižek!”), we already have the antidote for the popcorn blockbuster. Working from Plato’s principle that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” Taylor takes to the streets for some brisk walking and heady talking that literally asks us to try and keep up. Hooking up with some of today’s most influential thinkers, including Peter Singer, Cornel West and a return of the “Elvis of philosophy,” Slavoj Žižek, we’re invited to listen in for musings on the metaphysical and pontification on pop-culture. (As it happens, Taylor just did some talking of her own here.)
Opens in New York on Wednesday, February 25th.

“Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience”
Since pop music comes in cycles, it’s no surprise that the Jonas Brothers’ assistant ditched them earlier this month to go back to Britney Spears. While the poofy-haired trio still have the spotlight and their dressing rooms stocked with the finest Sunny D, Disney looks to cash in with a concert film of their “Burning Up” tour of last summer, presented in Disney Digital 3D. For the teenage girls who worship them, the Jonai offer a backstage pass and play a few previously unreleased songs. For the rest of us, it means they’re kicking “Coraline” out of the 3D-enabled theaters.
Opens wide and in IMAX for one week only.


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.