What to Watch If Not Watching the “Watchmen”

What to Watch If Not Watching the “Watchmen” (photo)

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Some homegrown interloping mixes with a strong international showing this week to give an overall balance to what’s playing at your local multiplex. Comic book fans can salivate over “Watchmen,” arthouse fans can enjoy a Louis Garrel double bill, and a Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse-inspired serial killer movie bridges the gap.

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A best foreign language Oscar nominee from 2008, Russian director Nikita Mikhalkov’s interpretation of the Reginald Rose’s 1954 play “Twelve Angry Men” puts a contemporary political spin on this classic tale of passion and prejudice. Tasked with discerning the guilt of a young Chechen boy accused of brutally murdering his military officer father, Sergei Makovetsky plays the lone voice of dissent voting for acquittal. As the audience witnesses the boy’s unfortunate childhood in flashbacks, Makovetsky’s mysterious juror preaches rationality and reason as he attempts to convince a room full of his peers of the boy’s innocence one by one. In Russian with subtitles.
Opens in New York on Wednesday, March 4th.

“Everlasting Moments”
Swedish auteur Jan Troell returns with this studied piece of period miserablism, continuing his informal trilogy of films about turn of the century upheaval against the backdrop of the socialist revolution, beginning with 1966’s “Here’s Your Life” and 2001’s “As White as in Snow.” In a story inspired by his wife’s grandmother, Troell tells of Maria (Maria Heiskanen), who finds respite from her humdrum existence under the tutelage of the solicitous Sebastian (Jasper Christensen), a local photographer who encourages her to employ the camera she wins in a lottery as a tool of intellectual independence as she toils to raise her seven children and keep tabs on her boorish, womanizing husband (Mikael Persbrandt). In Swedish with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Explicit Ills”
Premiering at last year’s SXSW Festival where it scooped a trio of awards, actor-turned-writer/director Mark Webber’s directorial debut is a disparate ensemble ramble through an impoverished South Philadelphia neighborhood that seems to genuinely have something to say. With a cast of largely unknown actors augmented by indie starlets such as Paul Dano and Rosario Dawson, Webber delves deep into modern life on the breadlines, orchestrating a multi-stranded story of those living a hand-to-mouth existence in South Philly where kindness and compassion often take the place of actual currency.
Opens in New York; expands to Los Angeles and Philadelphia on March 20th.

Born out of the immigrant slums of Lisbon in the early 19th century, Fado is a vigorous yet melancholic style of music reflecting struggle and promise that’s been dubbed the “Portuguese blues.” From the classical to the contemporary, from Reggae to hip-hop, Spanish helmer Carlos Saura traces the origins of the Fado (which literally translates to “destiny” or “fate”), exploring its development and continued legacy with his trademark fusion of music, dance and cinematic verve. In Portuguese with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Frontier of Dawn”
Veteran French helmer Philippe Garrel directs his son Louis in this throwback to the heyday of the French New Wave sprinkled with elements of the supernatural that charts the fine line between blissful intoxication and insanity. Garrel Junior stars as François, a young photographer left reeling following the suicide of Carole (Laura Smet), an actress with whom he had an affair. A year later, François is looking to marry and move on, but becomes plagued by visions of the ghostly Carole, beckoning him to join her in the land of the dead. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“The Horsemen”
Although some might have considered Jonas Åkerlund’s druggie drama “Spun” a horror film, the music video vet is applying his splice-a-second technique to a real gruesome thriller this time, starring Dennis Quaid as an embittered detective investigating a series of viciously elaborate slayings whose characteristics mirror the exploits of the fabled Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. (Probably a compromise for a film with designs on “Se7en,” but having only the budget for two.) In what our own Matt Singer recently touted as one of the most anticipated performances of the spring, Ziyi Zhang co-stars as the mysterious woman suspected of masterminding the murders.
Opens in limited release.

“La Belle Personne”
Opening as the headliner for The Brooklyn Academy of Music Cinematik’s tribute to our sister company IFC Films, “Love Songs” director Christope Honoré helms this modern-day retelling of “La Princesse de Clèves,” the classic French novel of romance and scandal, which depicts the pain of growing up and the agony of unrequited love. Léa Seydoux stars as Junie, a troubled 16-year-old who catches the eye of all the boys at her new school and develops a friendship with Otto (Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet). But as Junie spurns Otto’s clumsy romantic advances, she cultivates a forbidden romance with her Italian teacher, Mr. Némours (Louis Garrel). In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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