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Deadgirls and Grouchy Gurus

Deadgirls and Grouchy Gurus (photo)

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A small smattering of romantic fare amongst the new releases this week lines up alongside some caustic political satire, a couple of dark chillers, somber documentaries, and a string of grouchy gurus.

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“The Answer Man”
Having quietly transformed himself into one of the most versatile character actors working today, Jeff Daniels returns to leading man duties for this romantic indie, the feature debut of writer/director John Hindman. Daniels plays Arlen Faber, the author of a worldwide bestselling page-turner on spirituality who’s spent the following 20 years living the life of a reclusive malcontent. Lauren Graham of “Gilmore Girls” fame co-stars as a widowed chiropractor with a troubled son who reawakens Faber’s erstwhile interest in people.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“California Company Town”
With the Golden State scrambling to avoid bankruptcy, performance artist and filmmaker Lee Anne Schmitt offers a striking visual retrospective on the debilitating legacy of California’s boom-bust economic cycles. Characterized by found photography, wild sounds and somber narration, the film tours a multitude of abandoned corporate-owned ghost towns that once housed working communities, delivering a pointed if one-sided assessment on the failings of unregulated capitalism.
Opens in New York.

The “Saw” franchise aside, the torture porn wave has thankfully crested, which makes this belated entry from co-directors Marcel Sarmiento and Gadi Harel almost retro cool. Tantalizing pubescent boys everywhere with the most logistically ridiculous plot since “Captivity,” our helming duo deliver an unsettling parable on the naiveté of teenage sexuality. A pair of unfashionable youths clowning around in the basement of an abandoned mental asylum (as one does) encounters the deadgirl (Jenny Spain) chained to a table and elect to make her their own personal sex object. One for the romantics, then.
Opens in limited release.

“The English Surgeon”
With the debate over health care reform currently raging in the halls of Congress, director Geoffrey Smith’s documentary paints a discouraging portrait of the socialized alternative. Whether it be the stifling bureaucracy of the British National Heath Service or the underfunded and inadequate facilities in the Ukraine, Smith charts the failings of the European system while singling out the underlying human kindness found within it. Following the activities of renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Henry Marsh, who has been donating his services to the Ukraine for almost 20 years, Smith uncovers a compassionate and self-deprecating man haunted by his limitations in a field where saving someone’s life and rendering them a vegetable is a nerve-shredding matter of millimeters.
Opens in New York.

Things have been quietish on the Bruckheimer front since the all-conquering “Pirates of the Caribbean” trilogy (although number four is on the way), but judging by the way they’ve been tossing his name around in the TV spots, Jerry is damn proud of this — his first 3-D movie. Seamlessly blending computer animation and live action for a riff on “Mission Impossible,” the film features Sam Rockwell, Penélope Cruz and Tracy Morgan as the voices of a crack commando unit of guinea pigs who end up at a pet store after their covert ops activities are nixed.
Opens wide and in 3D.

“In The Loop”
Offering proof positive that swearing is in fact both big and clever, Glaswegian satirist Armando Iannucci conjures up a scathing indictment of our self-serving political system via a farcical, imagined preamble to war. Adapted from Iannucci’s own hit British television series “The Thick of It,” the comedy stars Tom Hollander as an inept back-bench MP who’s committed the terrible faux pas of making a definitive statement on an issue. Peter Capaldi, James Gandolfini, David Rasche and Anna Chlumsky co-star.
Opens in limited release.

“Loren Cass”
After drumming up praise on the festival circuit for almost three years — and earning a “Best Film Not Playing in a Theater Near You” nomination at the Gotham Awards in 2007 — writer/director/actor Chris Fuller’s debut about teen malaise and racial friction in St. Petersburg, Florida finally makes it to theaters. Fuller, now a ripe 26 years old, pulls no punches in his portrait of the town not long after the 1996 riots, punctuating his scripted tale with disturbing real footage of both the riots and of the 1987 televised suicide R. Budd Dwyer.
Opens in New York.

Regardless of how good or bad the actual film is, the dead-eyed portrait of young Isabelle Fuhrman that Warner Brothers has deployed for its poster campaign surely wins it the prize for most disturbing one-sheet of the summer. Following minor splashes with “House of Wax” and the supremely silly “Goal II: Living the Dream,” director Jaume Collet-Serra tries his hand at the creepy kid sub-genre with Fuhrman starring as the titular foundling who turns her adopted parents home into a breeding ground for chaos. Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard fill out the stock roles of terrified mother and skeptical father.
Opens wide.


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.