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No Country For Foreign Blockbusters

No Country For Foreign Blockbusters (photo)

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Even though it’s made $100 million in the rest of the world and is based on a global bestseller, it took months for Swedish murder mystery “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” to find a U.S. distributor. The film was finally picked up earlier this month by Music Box Films, known for previously saving the French crowdpleaser “Tell No One” after other distributors passed in fear of poor returns.

In America, with few exceptions, the fact that a film is subtitled means it’s destined for the arthouse. Populist entertainment — action, romantic comedies, thrillers — has struggled to find a place and an audience. Like most blockbusters, “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is guaranteed a sequel — it’s adapted from the first installment of the “Millenium” trilogy, written before author Stieg Larsson passed away in 2004. As Anne Thompson reported, the only reason an American remake hasn’t been set into motion already is because Larsson had no will, leaving his family in a legal tussle with his common-law wife.

Still, the massive international success of “Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” and the upcoming release of a truncated version of John Woo’s epic “Red Cliff,” which has been doing gangbusters overseas in its original two-film incarnation, got us to thinking about some of the biggest blockbusters that haven’t washed up on our shores (unless you have a region-free DVD player). Here are a few, including their trailers:

Hayao Miyazaki still rules the roost in Japan, where the legendary animator’s “Spirited Away” remains the biggest box office hit of all time with $285 million. But the biggest non-animated hit of recent years has been “Bayside Shakedown 2,” the second in a series of spinoffs from a popular cop show that aired on Fuji Television during the late ’90s. In 2003, “Shakedown 2” shook down willing audiences to the tune of approximately $160 million, not to mention the countless yen taken in by tie-in deals with instant noodle companies and Toshiba. “Bayside Shakedown 3” is in the works.

American audiences got their first real taste of loose-limbed and quick-witted comedian Dany Boon in the 2006 double dose of Patrice Leconte’s “My Best Friend” and Francis Veber’s “The Valet.” But there’s still no way to see Boon’s own effort as a writer/director, 2008’s “Welcome to the Sticks,” a comedy about a postal worker whose attempts at lobbying to relocate to more desirable Cote D’Azur outpost results in being dispatched to the rural town of Bergues. Despite its $192 million in domestic ticket sales, distributors here have balked at the French film’s distinctly Gallic sense of humor. That hasn’t stopped Will Smith’s production company from buying the rights to produce an American remake for Warner Bros. Meanwhile, Boon might raise his international profile with a winning turn in Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s “Micmacs.”

The tough Teuonic actor Til Schweiger has flirted with international stardom, with roles in American action films like “King Arthur” and of course, as Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz in “Inglourious Basterds,” between gigs in Deutschland. But his biggest success came when he directed himself in the 2007 romantic comedy “Keinohrhasen” (“Rabbit Without Ears”), a surprise smash that took in nearly $74 million locally and has already prompted a sequel scheduled to be released later this year. Schweiger plays Ludo Decker, a tabloid reporter whose exploits at a wedding party land him 300 hours of community service, which he spends in the service of a daycare center that’s run by a woman (Nora Tschirner) he once tormented as a youth. Although the film won over audiences, not to mention several awards, the fact remains that American audiences are still less familiar with Schweiger than the guest of honor at the film’s inciting incident, heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko.


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.