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Summer, Somers and Potter

Summer, Somers and Potter (photo)

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Just a couple of blockbusters this week, one of which we’ve seen most of already. For everybody else, there is a strong selection of international art house pics to go with a couple of homegrown indies.

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“(500) Days of Summer”
Longtime music video director Marc Webb turned down a lot of horror remakes and teen comedies to make his feature debut with this unconventional recitation of a relationship that doesn’t work out. Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-stars as Tom, a poker-faced field mouse rejected by the love of his (comically young) life, the idiosyncratic Summer (Zooey Deschanel), and neurotically dissects the minutia of their courtship as he struggles to figure out what went wrong.
Opens in limited release.

“Death In Love”
Having spent much time developing functional follow-ups (“Dusk Till Dawn 2,” “Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights”) since helming Sundance faves “Fresh” and “A Price Above Rubies,” writer/director Boaz Yakin returns to his indie roots, concocting a stagy drama surrounding the aftershocks of a concentration camp liaison that reverberate across generations. Much like the similarly themed “The Reader,” the central dilemma unfolds some 50 years after the war, with Jacqueline Bisset as a Holocaust survivor living in New York whose two sons (Josh Lucas and Lukas Haas) attempt to come to terms with their dead-end lives and their mother’s affair with a Nazi doctor.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Died Young, Stayed Pretty”
In navigating the boggy marsh of this grubbiest of artistic subcultures, first-time director Eileen Yaghoobian avoids the potential echo chamber of self-proclaimed importance, as no one’s more surprised that other people might care about what they do than the quirky folks in the underground poster culture. Lifting the lid on this colorful blend of product promotion and artistic self-expression, Yaghoobian tours the history and evolution of the indie graphic art scene where whacked out geniuses boil down complex ideas and bold statements into a visually striking yet easily digestible 27″ x 41″.
Opens in New York.

“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince”
Shunted from last November after “The Dark Knight” took care of Warner Brothers’ `08 financial projections single-handedly, the greatest literary soap opera of our time rumbles on with a story that’s now so dark the only thing left is to close down f-stops on the camera. “Order of The Phoenix” director David Yates returns for Harry’s most perilous chapter yet, with increasingly deadly magic on the rise, thanks in part to the emergence of raging teen hormones throughout the hallowed halls of Hogwarts.
Opens wide and in IMAX.

While we’re still waiting for director Morgan Freeman (not that one) to fulfill the promise of his auspicious Sundance award-winning 1997 breakout feature “Hurricane Streets,” we can content ourselves with this nasty little thriller that plays like “Friday Night Lights” by way of “Misery.” Matt Long co-stars as Mike, an all-conquering small-town football star who returns home with new girlfriend Elizabeth (Jessica Stroup) to a hero’s welcome… except from Mike’s obsessive, unhinged ex (Mischa Barton) who nurses Elizabeth back to health after a freak accident with her own deeply unpleasant methods of care.
Opens in limited release.

“Heart of Stone”
Following 2005’s “The Right to Be Wrong” about the divide between Palestineans and Israelis, documentary filmmaker Beth Toni Kruvant explores a different kind of war zone with her latest. Once considered one of the top schools in the U.S. when her father attended, Weequahic High School’s in danger of being consumed by gang violence. On a campus where the faculty wears Kevlar, a new principal and an alumni organization mostly comprised of elderly Jews and younger African-Americans work to promote simple conflict resolution, fund programs and scholarships, and provide opportunity to the troubled student body.
Opens in New York.

“Off Jackson Avenue”
A Japanese hitman, an Albanian pimp and a smalltime car thief cross paths in a seedy New York neighborhood in this hard-boiled DIY crime drama from bit-part-actor-turned-director John-Luke Montias, whose debut feature “Bobby G. Can’t Swim” earned him a Best New Director Award from AFI. Jessica Pimentel plays Olivia, a young woman who tries to escape her sleazy captor Milot (Stivi Paskoski), while Tomo (Jun Suenaga), an English teacher moonlighting as an assassin, looks to service a contract. Meanwhile, ambitious crook Joey (Montias) contemplates that always-tenuous one last score. Hard to imagine how much of that ends well for anybody.
Opens in New York.

“Rashevski’s Tango”
Six years is a long time to wait for a stateside theatrical pick-up, but co-writer/director Sam Garbarski’s 2003 story of a family of Belgian Jews and their struggle to keep alive the traditions of their faith finally makes it to our shores. A multigenerational story, the picture stars Natan Cogan as Dolfo, who travels to Israel with his grandson for a funeral, while back at home the rest of the family wrestles with the inevitable compromises that come with cultural assimilation. In English, French and Hebrew with subtitles.
Opens in New York.


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.