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More Than Meets the Eye

More Than Meets the Eye (photo)

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This week in theaters, everyone seems to have opted to go dark, with cinemas offering up grieving families, persecuted immigrants, endangered pop singers and the slow death of intimacy in the internet age. This is… supposed to be summer, right?

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“Afghan Star”
With the American version still able to compel 30 million people into a zombie-like trance each week, “Pop Idol” is the latest craze sweeping the nation of Afghanistan, where contestants are subject to a campaign of intimidation that puts Simon Cowell’s abrasive jibes in perspective. Having snagged both the Audience Award and a Directing Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, director Havana Marking goes beyond the bright TV lights to follow four of the season’s finalists, including female contestants under constant threat of violence and death. In English, Pashtu, and Dari with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Break-Up Date”
The feature documentary debut of writer/producer/director Collin Souter, “Break-Up Date” offers a potential contemporary correlation as to why people are staying single longer and longer. Mining a host of heartbroken twenty- and thirty-somethings for their worst break-up stories, Souter ponders the future of a society gripped by social networking and cultural fads (what kind of impatient git goes speed dating anyway?) that have transformed coupling into a global audition process.
Opens in Chicago.

Between director Stephen Frears, scripter Christopher Hampton and a principle cast including Kathy Bates and Michelle Pfeiffer, this lush period piece carries with it the kind of prepackaged awards season prestige that makes us wonder at its June release date. Based on one of French novelist Colette’s high society page-turners, the film stars Bates as a madam who commands her spoilt offspring Chéri (Rupert Friend) to end his longstanding affair with her sultry former colleague and courtesan, Lea (Pfeiffer), so that she might reap the social benefits of his arranged marriage to the dull and virginal Edmée (Felicity Jones).
Opens in limited release.

“The Crypt”
One-man-indie-horror-band Craig McMahon has carved out a career taking swaggering, good-looking teens, marooning them in an eerie locale and promptly tearing them to pieces. His latest supernatural thriller finds a group of thieving beauties breaking into a labyrinth of catacombs on a mission for Depression era treasure buried with the locals, who are surprisingly keen to hang on to their loot.
Opens in limited release.

“The Hurt Locker”
Kathryn Bigelow has evolved into one of the most popular and successful female directors working today due in part to her preternatural insight into what makes alpha males tick. Her latest, scripted by former journalist Mark Boal (who provided the story for “In the Valley of Elah”) follows an elite army bomb disposal unit in their daily dance with death. Jeremy Renner stars as the headstrong Staff Sergeant William James, who leads subordinates Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) and Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) into a high stakes battle of nerve on the streets of a war-torn Iraq.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Life is Hot in Cracktown”
Adapted from his own collection of short stories, jack-of-all-trades Buddy Giovinazzo narrows down a quarter of vignettes for the big screen, depicting the hardscrabble existence hacked out by the denizens of a drug-ravaged ghetto. Victor Rasuk co-stars as Manny, who works at an all-night bodega and moonlights as a security guard at an upscale hotel, where pre-teen Willy (Ridge Canipe) begs for change outside. Meanwhile, a pre-op transsexual named Marybeth (Kerry Washington) turns tricks to pay for the operation, while petty thug Romeo (Evan Ross) terrorizes the neighborhood at large. Brandon Routh, Illeana Douglas, Desmond Harrington and Lara Flynn Boyle co-star.
Opens in limited release.

“My Sister’s Keeper”
Having demonstrated a deft hand at so-called women’s pictures with “The Notebook,” director Nick Cassavetes turns Jodi Picoult’s somber page-turner into a screen weepie of epic proportions. Pint-sized thespian Abigail Breslin stars as Anna, who sues her parents for emancipation after she discovers she’s been deliberately conceived as a supplier of bone marrow to her leukemia-stricken sister (Sofia Vassilieva) and can stop the painful treatments to help her. Jason Patric and Cameron Diaz co-star as the guilt-stricken parents.
Opens wide.

“New York”
Having made its name peddling bright and cheery song-and-dance romances, Indian outfit Yash Raj Films coughs up a darker take on the immigrant experience post-9/11. Helmer Kabir Khan (“Kabul Express”) chronicles the lives of a trio of NYU students (John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, Neil Nitin Mukesh) who’ve acclimated very nicely to a Western way of life until they suddenly find themselves the victims of prejudice and persecution in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks. In English and Hindi subtitles.
Opens in limited release.


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.