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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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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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