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Spring Indie Film Preview 2010

Spring Indie Film Preview 2010 (photo)

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Fans of Ewan McGregor, Kristen Stewart and James Van Der Beek (!) will be seeing double this spring, as arthouses and multiplexes host an array of indie films ranging from the travails of septuagenarian New Yorkers looking for love (“The Last New Yorker”) to 13-year-old assassins on the hunt for their first kill (“Kick-Ass”). If real life is more your speed, there are new documentaries about reviving animation strips (the Disney doc “Waking Sleeping Beauty”) and stripping down (the burlesque history “Behind the Burly Q”), while foreign wonders like the French crime epics “A Prophet” and “Mesrine” mix with Korean treasures “Mother” and “The Good, The Bad and The Weird.”

But of course, why limit yourself to just what’s playing in the first-run theater near you? We’ve also included a look at the films that will be playing Anywhere But a Movie Theater (online, on demand, and on DVD) in the next few months, as well as a tri-coastal calendar of repertory theaters that are hosting all kinds of one-night-only events, including a screening of “Up in the Air” writer/director Jason Reitman’s favorite films in Los Angeles. All in all, why risk being caught out in the rain or snow when the perfect storm of movie magic is happening inside.

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February 19

“The Ghost Writer” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Ewan McGregor, Pierce Brosnan, Kim Cattrall, Olivia Williams, Timothy Hutton, Eli Wallach, Jim Belushi, Tom Wilkinson
Director: Roman Polanski
Fest Cred: Berlinale
The Gist: Arthouse fans may turn their nose up at the “Twilight” franchise, but you can probably thank the Cullens for empowering Summit to pick up the latest from Polanski, an adaptation of former political journalist Robert Harris’ novel about a disgraced British prime minister, Adam Lang (Brosnan), who holes up at an island retreat to pen his memoirs with the help of a ghost writer (McGregor). But when the new co-author begins to piece together the truth of an investigation into Lang’s involvement in torturing terrorist suspects, he begins to fear he may end up like the mysteriously disappeared writer he replaced on the project.

“2010 Oscar Nominated Shorts”
The Gist: Magnolia Pictures is once again teaming with the British-based Shorts International to present two programs — animated and live-action — of this year’s Oscar-nominated shorts on the big screen. In the animated category, those films include the latest adventure of Wallace & Gromit in Nick Park’s “A Matter of Loaf and Death,” Nicolas Schmerkin’s “Logorama,” Javier Recio Gracia’s “The Lady and the Reaper,” Nicky Phelan and Darragh O’Connell’s “Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty,” and Fabrice O. Joubert’s “French Roast.” In the live-action program, you will be able to see Juanita Wilson and James Flynn’s “The Door,” Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellström’s “Instead of Abracadabra,” Gregg Helvey’s “Kavi,” Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey’s “Miracle Fish,” and Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson’s “The New Tenants.”

“Blood Done Sign My Name” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Nate Parker, Ricky Schroder, Afemo Omilami, Lela Rochon, Nick Searcy, Michael Rooker, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Gattlin Griffith
Director: Jeb Stuart
The Gist: Not known for heavy dramas, “Die Hard” and “The Fugitive” screenwriter Stuart adapts fellow North Carolinean Tim Tyson’s autobiographical tome about the coalition of civil rights activists and religious leaders who came together to tame the social unrest that followed the acquittal of three white men of a racially charged murder of an African-American war vet in ’60s Oxford. As Stuart recently told the New York Times, this isn’t going to be “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

“Bulletproof Salesman” (IMDb, trailer)
Director: Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker
Fest Cred: SXSW, Silverdocs, Woodstock
The Gist: “Gunner Palace” and “How to Fold a Flag” docmakers Epperlein and Tucker are back with the story of Fidelis Cloer, an armored car dealer who traverses Iraq looking for sales and in the process reveals the reality of the wartorn nation. Los Angeles’ Downtown Independent is hosting the film’s exclusive one-week run.

“Dreamkiller” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Dario Deak, John Savage, Tyrone Power Jr., John Colton, Diandra Newlin, Penny Drake
Director: Catherine C. Pirotta
The Gist: This psychological thriller stars Deak and Colton as two doctors who aren’t allowed to celebrate for too long after their discovery of a cure for fear backfires when their patients’ previously held murderous inclinations begin to manifest into reality.

“The Good Guy” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Alexis Bledel, Scott Porter, Bryan Greenberg, Anna Chlumsky, Aaron Yoo, Andrew McCarthy
Writer/Director: Julio DePietro
Fest Cred: Tribeca
The Gist: Imagine if John Hughes had continued to probe the quarterlife crises of the Brat Pack generation that he seemingly abandoned with “Career Opportunities” in ’91 well into the glossier ’00s and you have a good idea of Chicago hedge fund manager-turned-director DiPietro’s feature debut, which stars “Friday Night Lights”‘ Porter and Greenberg as Wall Street day traders who ultimately vie over the same girl (Bledel).

“Happy Tears” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Demi Moore, Parker Posey, Ellen Barkin, Rip Torn
Writer/Director: Mitchell Lichtenstein
Fest Cred: Berlinale, Mill Valley, Starz Denver
The Gist: Unlike some who want to distance themselves from their famous lineage, “Teeth” director Lichtenstein is making no secret of being the son of Roy with his second feature, named after one of his dad’s paintings (and even uses it for the poster) and perhaps touches on something personal with the story of two sisters (Moore and Posey) who head back to their hometown of Pittsburgh to tend to their ailing father (Torn).

“The Last New Yorker” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Dominic Chianese, Dick Latessa, Kathleen Chalfant, Josh Hamilton
Director: Harvey Wang
The Gist: “The Sopranos” Chianese co-stars with Latessa as a pair of 70-year-old Manhattanites whose lifelong friendship is tested when Chianese’s Lenny decides to embark on a romance that may lead him out of living in the big city, much to the chagrin of his pal who can’t stand its ever-changing nature.

“Lourdes” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: Sylvie Testud, Léa Seydoux, Bruno Todeschini, Gilette Barbier, Gerhard Liebmann, Irma Wagner
Writer/Director: Jessica Hausner
Fest Cred: Venice, Toronto, Pusan, Warsaw, London, Vienna, Sundance
The Gist: Once again proving to be an elusive filmmaker to categorize, “Hotel” director Hausner took home a bucket of awards from last year’s Venice Film Festival for this drama about a multiple sclerosis-afflicted woman, confined to her wheelchair during a pilgrimage to the Pyrenees, whose deeply held skepticism is put to the test when she actually experiences something miraculous at the religious shrine.

“Phyllis and Harold” (IMDb, trailer)
Director: Cindy Kleine
Fest Cred: Iowa Independent, Toronto Jewish, Jewish Eye, Santa Fe
The Gist: Following the death of her father, the titular Harold, Kleine makes a sequel to her 1998 doc “Til Death Do Us Part” about her parents’ different perspectives on their 55-year marriage. This time around, Kleine focuses more on her own upbringing and her relationship to her mother, who was indulging in an affair that Kleine had to protect from her father during the later years of their marriage.

“Scream of the Bikini” (IMDb)
The Cast: Kelsey Wedeen, Rebecca Larsen
Director: Kiff Scholl
Fest Cred: Thrillspy
The Gist: A spoof of ’60s spy thrillers, Wedeen and Larsen star as supermodels who moonlight as bounty hunters in this low-budget midnight movie that is being advertised as a lost South American production that was only recently uncovered.

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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.