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Spring Preview: Anywhere But a Movie Theater

Spring Preview: Anywhere But a Movie Theater (photo)

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More Spring Preview: [Theatrical Calendar]
[Repertory Calendar]
[Jason Reitman’s Favorites]

Over 85 films will be filing through arthouses and multiplexes between now and the end of April, but nearly triple that number will be accessible from the comfort of home, whether it’s on demand, online or on DVD. Here’s what will be hitting televisions, computer screens, Netflix queues and store shelves this spring.

On Demand

Once you get through the masterful six-hour “Red Riding Trilogy” currently available on demand through May, IFC Films and their Sundance Selects label have quite the collection of festival favorites available to beam directly onto your TV in the next few months. It starts on February 17th with the Festival Direct release of the acclaimed John Bryant comedy “The Overbrook Brothers,” about two siblings who find out they’re adopted, as well as the Sundance Selects release of “Flannel Pajamas” director Jeff Lipsky’s multi-generational comedy “Once More With Feeling,” starring Chazz Palminteri as a psychiatrist who works out a midlife crisis through karaoke as his daughter (Drea de Matteo) tries to find an outlet for her own issues. Additionally, Sundance Selects will bring a trio of intriguing films to the masses on demand in the weeks that follow, including “The Art of the Steal” (Feb. 26) the latest from “Rock School” documentarian Don Argott about the systematic looting of the world famous Barnes Foundation art collection; “My Enemy’s Enemy,” (March 12) “The Last King of Scotland” director Kevin MacDonald’s intricate look into the life of Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie and his connection to Western powers; and Peter Callahan’s dramedy “Against the Current” (March 26), starring Joseph Fiennes as a man driven to swim the 150-mile long Hudson River, co-starring Michelle Trachtenberg, Mary Tyler Moore and Elizabeth Reaser.

To complement their theatrical releases, IFC Films will also be offering the on demand premieres of the Jon Hamm-Josh Lucas mystery “Stolen” (March 12), “Fists in the Pocket” director Marco Bellocchio’s epic story of Mussolini’s secret son “Vincere” (March 19), the much-admired Daryl Wein-Zoe Lister Jones not-so-romantic comedy “Breaking Upwards” (April 2) the long-awaited Korean western “The Good, The Bad and The Weird” (April 23) and the Scott Caan drama “Mercy” (April 30).

02152010_TheEclipse.jpgMagnolia Pictures and their genre arm Magnet Releasing have plenty to be excited about this spring, especially if you have access to their Ultra VOD titles, which allows you to see some of the best indie films from the comfort of home. In addition to their ongoing run of the high-flying French parkour sequel “District 13: Ultimatum,” you’ll be able to catch Conor McPherson’s chilling Irish ghost story “The Eclipse” (February 26th), the Jet Li war epic “The Warlords” (March 4th), the Paul Dano-Brian Cox dramedy “The Good Heart” (April 2nd) and George A. Romero’s “Survival of the Dead” (April 30th) nearly a month before arriving in theaters.


Online

02152010_DungeonMasters.jpgThe big news online for film buffs is the launch of FilmBuff, Cinetic Media’s newly-created Web site that showcases all of the films they have helped distribute online, giving you instant access to films like the Patton Oswalt football dramedy “Big Fan” and Sally Potter’s “Rage.” But they aren’t resting on their laurels, with a cache of films debuting in February and March, starting with “You’re Gonna Miss Me” documentarian Keven McAlester’s follow-up, “The Dungeon Masters,” a look at a trio of Dungeons & Dragons devotees who bring their role-playing heroism into their real lives, that recently premiered on Amazon VOD. For something a little lighter, Cinetic is also offering up “On Broadway,” a drama about a Boston playwright (Joey McIntire) who, inspired by the death of his uncle, wants to stage a play in his honor in the back of a pub. Eliza Dushku, Will Arnett and Mike O’Malley co-star in the festival favorite that will premiere on Time Warner and Comcast VOD in March. And March also brings the online bow of “Humpday” director Lynn Shelton’s mockumentary series “What The Funny,” centering around the stand-up comedy scene in Seattle, which will debut on Babelgum in March, as well as iTunes debuts of acclaimed rock docs “Dig!,” Ondi Timoner’s eye-popping look at the brutal rivalry between the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols, and “Be Here to Love Me,” Margaret Brown’s intimate doc about singer/songwriter Townes Van Zandt.

There’s also big news coming from B-Side Entertainment, which is powering on with the release of “Still Bill,” the documentary about legendary soul singer Bill Withers that recently completed a run at the IFC Center, but is also available for anyone to host their own screening through the B-Side Web site. However, the company is also about to release “Trust Us, This is All Made Up,” Alex Karpovsky’s documentary about improv impresarios T.J. Jagodowski and David Pasquesi that Alison Willmore called “a lively enough document of what Jagodowski and Pasquesi are legendary for — long-form improv, done on a stage bare except for three chairs, all of it, as Jagodowski assures before the pair start, invented on the spot” when it premiered last year at SXSW. The film is now available on DVD as well as for screenings you can host yourself.

02152010_WeLiveinPublic.jpgGravitas Ventures is also delivering a host of indie films and documentaries online and through video on demand this spring, including ongoing runs of the unromantic comedy “The Snake” (see my interview with the filmmakers earlier this year) and the delicious doc “Beer Wars” about the American brewing industry. They will also be behind the VOD releases of three acclaimed new documentaries: Ondi Timoner’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning “We Live in Public” about the rise and fall of Internet pioneer Josh Harris (March 1st), the Val Kilmer-narrated “American Meth” about the spread of methamphetamine addiction (April 1st), and “Tapped”, an investigation into the bottled water industry from the producers of “Who Killed the Electric Car?” (April 1st). Gravitas will also offer the VOD premieres of the opposites attract comedy “Splinterheads” and appropriately enough, the Easter-centric horror flick “Easter Bunny, KILL KILL!” on April 1st. And if you haven’t already, you might want to add GravitasVOD to your Twitter feed to find out about more titles this spring as they’re added.

02152010_SuperGirls.jpgMeanwhile, the independent film store and distributor IndieFlix.com has joined with dGenerate Films to bring Chinese films, unauthorized by the government, to America, starting with Jian Yi’s “Super, Girls!” on March 2nd, a doc about China’s version of “American Idol” that follows 10 female contestants as they aspire to become singing sensations on the “Super Girls Singing Contest.” More such films will be available in the months to follow. In the meantime, IndieFlix.com recently released the timely documentary short “Appointment in Vancouver,” a look at current American Olympic skier Casey Puckett as he battles injuries on his way to becoming one of the sport’s most decorated athletes of all time. (You can hear Puckett and the filmmakers talk about the film here.) Both films will be available for streaming on the IndieFlix Web site, in addition to DVD editions.

The company will also soon bring to the masses “April Showers” director Andrew Robinson’s latest thriller “In the Darkness” about the disappearance of two boys in the mountains that turns into something far more harrowing. The film will be available in a limited edition DVD through IndieFlix.com concurrently with a launch on Hulu before a run on VOD.

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SO EXCITED!!!

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.”

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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. 

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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.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.