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Spring Preview: A Guide to the Season in Indie Film

Spring Preview: A Guide to the Season in Indie Film (photo)

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Spring is a season of renewal, particularly in the movie business, where the completion of the awards derby allows Amy Adams to segue from playing a solemn nun in “Doubt” to a klutzy crime scene cleaner in “Sunshine Cleaning.” Along with “Sunshine,” there are plenty of festival favorites about to get their day in the sun, whether that’s in theaters, on DVD or on demand online or on TV. This preview recognizes the many ways to get your indie film fix, as well as the special events you might want to head out to if you live in New York or Los Angeles, including “The Brothers Bloom” director Rian Johnson’s week-long con man movie “Festival of Fakery” at L.A.’s famed New Beverly Cinema, about which we recently spoke to the director. But regardless of whether we’re watching films from the past or present, we’re looking forward to the next couple months. (And in the spirit of renewal, you might’ve noticed we have a new look, too.)

February 18

02182009_katyn.jpeg“Katyń”
The Cast: Maja Ostaszewska, Artur Zmijewski, Andrzej Chyra, Danuta Stenka, Jan Englert, Magdalena Cielecka, Pawel Malaszynski, Agnieszka Glinska
Director: Andrezj Wadja
Fest Cred: Berlin, Tribeca, Karlovy Vary, São Paulo, among others
The Gist: Nominated for a foreign-language film Oscar in 2008, the latest feature from one of Poland’s most legendary filmmakers returns to the site of where Wadja’s own father was killed in the Katyń Forest Massacre of 1940 at the hands of the Soviet secret police. “Katyń” weaves multiple storylines into a broad perspective of the tragedy, from a Polish soldier who stays with his unit in spite of the pleas from his wife to a man who rewrites history to shift the blame. As the first film to tackle the subject, “Katyń” proved to be a major success in its home country.

February 20

02182009_mustreadaftermydeath_1.jpeg“Must Read After My Death”
Writer/Director: Morgan Dews
Fest Cred: IDFA, L.A., Vancouver
The Gist: Like many documentarians before him, when Morgan Dews rummaged through a box of his grandmother’s things from the 1960s, the audio diaries, home movies and photographs that poured out proved to be the stuff of a movie. The film that ultimately emerged documents the crumbling marriage of a Connecticut couple that went into therapy long before it became popular in the U.S., yielding mixed results for the couple and their four children.

02182009_elevenminutes_1.jpeg“Eleven Minutes”
Directors: Michael Selditch and Robert Tate
Fest Cred: Philadelphia, Hot Docs, Frameline, Outfest
The Gist: For those who can’t enough of “Project Runway,” reality TV vets Selditch and Tate follow a year in the life of another reality TV vet, “Project Runway” season one winner Jay McCarroll, as the husky fashion designer fine-tunes his first show for New York’s Fashion Week. Fans of “The Hills,” don’t feel left out: passive-aggressive designer Kelly Cutrone makes a cameo.

February 27

02182009_crossingover.jpg“Crossing Over”
The Cast: Harrison Ford, Jim Sturgess, Ray Liotta, Ashley Judd, Summer Bishil, Cliff Curtis, Alice Eve, Jaysha Patel, Merik Tadros, Alice Braga
Director: Wayne Kramer (“The Cooler”)
The Gist: Although Sean Penn had himself removed from this long-delayed ensemble drama about illegal immigration, Harrison Ford attempts to make amends with the movie gods for passing on “Traffic” by playing an immigration enforcement officer who conducts raids for mass arrests in Los Angeles. Others affected in this top-down tapestry include Cliff Curtis as Ford’s partner, Ray Liotta as a morally ambiguous INS adjudicator, Ashley Judd as his wife, Jim Sturgess and Alice Eve as a British couple with passport problems and Alice Braga as an illegal immigrant deported away from her son.

02182009_bobfunk_1.jpeg“Bob Funk”
The Cast: Michael Leydon Campbell, Rachael Leigh Cook, Stephen Root, Grace Zabriske, Khelo Thomas, Lucy Davis, Alex Désert, Eddie Jemison
Writer/Director: Craig Carlisle
The Gist: The “acerbic yet irreverently charming” Bob Funk’s days of being a happy, opinionated drunk are destined to end if he’s to woo his comely new co-worker (Rachael Leigh Cook) and win back his old job as an executive in the family business in this comedy, the feature directorial debut of Carlisle, who originated “Funk” as a play.

02182009_Echelon_Conspiracy.jpg“Echelon Conspiracy”
The Cast: Shane West, Edward Burns, Ving Rhames, Martin Sheen, Jonathan Pryce
Director: Greg Marcks (“11:14”)
The Gist: After an engineer (West) receives an unmarked package with a state of the art cell phone inside, he begins receiving texts that bring him good luck (the film original title was “The Gift”). Of course, things can’t go well forever, and he discovers he’s the center of a plot to put unlimited surveillance powers in the wrong hands.

02182009_troublewithromance.jpg“The Trouble With Romance”
Cast: Jordan Belfi, Roger Fan, John Churchill, Josie Davis, Sheetal Sheth, Kip Pardue, Jennifer Siebel
Director: Gene Rhee
Fest Cred: San Francisco Asian-American, Cinequest
The Gist: Rhee makes his feature debut following his Sundance 2002 short, “The Quest for Length,” with an indie take on “He’s Just Not That Into You,” only with characters that may be too into each other. Spread out across four vignettes titled “Bang,” “Spice,” “Dump” and “Love,” this dramedy centers on four couples working out their problems in an L.A. hotel.

02182009_RobertBlecker.jpg“Robert Blecker Wants Me Dead”
Director: Ted Schillinger
Fest Cred: Honolulu, Rhode Island, USA, Cork
The Gist: Don’t read too much into the title unless you’ve been convicted of a capital crime, but the film follows the titular Blecker, a New York Law School professor and leading advocate of the death penalty (or in his words, “emotive retributivist”) who fosters an unexpected friendship with Daryl Holton, a Tennessee death row inmate who is facing imminent execution.

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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.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.