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Spring Preview: Anywhere But a Movie Theater

Spring Preview: Anywhere But a Movie Theater (photo)

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Film releases certainly aren’t limited to theaters these days — here’s a rundown of titles making their way to you via alternative pathways.

On Demand

Our sister company IFC Films made a splash at this year’s Sundance with the announcement of a partnership with the SXSW Film Festival to premiere four of the festival’s picks concurrent with their debut in Austin. Joe Swanberg’s latest, “Alexander the Last,” headlines the group making their on demand debut on March 14, along with Australian comedy “Three Blind Mice,” Bulgarian noir “Zift” and SXSW ’08 alums “Medicine for Melancholy” and “Paper Covers Rock.”

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On DVD

It’s a sign of the times that a serviceable Tommy Lee Jones thriller can sit alongside the latest from Steven Seagal at your local Blockbuster, but “In the Electric Mist” is far more interesting than the actor’s paycheck output of the late ’90s, even if it is missing 15 minutes from its international version and half of its original title. Bertrand Tavernier’s adaptation of James Lee Burke’s bayou murder mystery “In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead” is steeped in Cajun culture, with far more attention being paid to the post-Katrina landscape and New Iberia’s colorful characters (gamely played by a supporting cast including John Goodman, James Gammon, Peter Sarsgaard and Kelly MacDonald) than its storyline, which follows Jones’ Detective Robicheaux working overtime on the murder of a dead hooker and what appears to be a racially motivated cold case. The addition of Robicheaux’s conversations with a supernatural Confederate ghost probably didn’t help its standing with potential theatrical distributors, but such quirks set “Mist” apart from cookie cutter thrillers like Jones’ own “Double Jeopardy.” Less than two weeks after it played Berlinale, it can be watched in the comfort of your home on March 3rd, much like the rest of these indie films that are bypassing the big screen in the months ahead:

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“Extreme Movie”
Something funny happened on the way to the multiplex for this sketch comedy film, which was inexplicably removed from the Dimension release schedule late last year. Even with an appearance from Michael Cera and a script cobbled together by half the “Saturday Night Live” writing room in Will Forte, John Solomon, Andy Samberg, Avika Schaffer and Jorma Taccone, among others, the 75-minute sex spoof is being sent straight to DVD. But it couldn’t be worse than what those “Meet the Spartans” guys come up with, right?

“Jam”
Surprisingly, the first feature from professional trailer cutter Mark Woollen, whose work includes the striking teasers for “Milk” and “Little Children,” never made it to the multiplex after winning the best documentary prize at SXSW in 2006. The roller derby doc has, however, made it into the rotation of the Sundance Channel and will finally see a release through their DVD label.

“Lullaby”
Fans of Melissa Leo’s performance in “Frozen River” might want to consider the other 2008 film she starred in as a Tennessee waitress shaken down by drug dealers who are holding her ne’er-do-well son hostage in Johannesburg. Following an appearance at last year’s Method Fest, the Darrell James Roodt-directed drama is hitting DVD.

Other indies that played theaters, but you might’ve missed: The soldier’s homecoming drama “Badland,” “Chris and Don: A Love Story,” “Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father,” the war profiteer doc “Disarm,” the Irish romance “Eden,” “Hounddog,” the unconventional 2004 Japanese chiller “Late Bloomer,” the Japanese retiree drama “Man Walking on Snow,” the acclaimed doc “The Matador,” the Minnie Driver drama “Take,” “What Just Happened”

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“The Burning”
If “Carrie” had a sister and she were Japanese, it might look something like this thriller from director Kenta Hayashida about two twins with pyrokinetic abilities, though one has been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

“Dead in 3 Days”
An Austrian horror film that’s been making the rounds of horror/fantasy festivals since 2006, this Dimension Extreme release about a group of friends who become the target of a homicidal maniac is finally docking on U.S. shores. Think “Friday the 13th,” especially since said friends live near a lake.

“Protégé”
The Weinstein Company’s Dragon Dynasty label is giving yet another comprehensive release to a celebrated Hong Kong actioner that never found U.S. distribution. This time, it’s the 2007 drama “Protégé,” which stars “Infernal Affairs”‘ Andy Lau as a businessman by day and drug kingpin by night who preparations for retirement don’t go exactly as planned when he appoints an undercover cop (Daniel Wu) to be his successor.

“Real Time”
The opening night film of last year’s Slamdance Film Festival, this Canadian comedy stars “Undeclared”‘s Jay Baruchel as a degenerate gambler who’s told by a hit man (Randy Quaid) that he only has one hour left to live and spends the next 60 minutes doing the unexpected.

“Weapons”
“Bomb the System” director Adam Bhala Lough’s multi-stranded sophomore feature about a small town plagued by a series of interconnected teen murders provoked plenty of heated discussions (and many negative reviews) at Sundance in 2007 and scored a million-dollar distribution deal from After Dark Films, though it never made it to theaters. Now, Lionsgate is releasing the Paul Dano-Nick Cannon drama direct-to-DVD.

Other indies that played theaters, but you might have missed: “I’ve Loved You So Long,” the Sissy Spacek-Troy Garity potboiler “Lake City,” the John Ratzenberger drama “The Village Barbershop,” the Thai romance “Wonderful Town,” the German corporate thriller “Yella”

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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.