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DID YOU READ

The indefatigable “Elektra Luxx.”

The indefatigable “Elektra Luxx.” (photo)

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Reviewed (sort of) at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival.

Sometimes the movie gods smile upon you, though Sebastian Guitierrez probably wasn’t feeling that way during the SXSW premiere of “Elektra Luxx.” Roughly an hour and ten minutes into the sequel to last year’s crowdpleaser “Women in Trouble,” you could hear the voices of Marley Shelton and Carla Gugino scheming again. The only problem was you couldn’t see them. As a panicked Gutierrez and others retreated to the back of the Paramount Theater to find out what was wrong, the film continued to play — audio only — and the murmurs began to rustle through the crowd. Soon enough, the lights went up at the Paramount and after people began biding the time by talking about the musical number Gugino had just finished in the film or having their picture taken with a captive Malin Akerman, who hadn’t yet actually shown up in the film yet, Gutierrez valiantly took to the stage to apologize for the projection problem.

This would be the moment at most screenings where people would be leaving the theater, but only a few of the 1000-plus that were at the packed Paramount did so. Instead, Gutierrez started a self-effacing mile-a-minute ramble about everything from why Akerman hadn’t appeared in the movie (“there was no film in the camera”) to asking if there was anyone from Canon Canadians in the crowd who could lend him a 7D hi-def camera for his next film. Well, actually the one after his next film, which would be “Girl Walks Into a Bar,” what he claimed was the first film with a cast of notable stars including Rosario Dawson, Zachary Quinto and Robert Forster that will premiere directly online on Hulu and YouTube. (The film, much like the anthology style of “Women in Trouble,” was shot in 11 days and features 10 interconnected vignettes set in a bar.) Although Gutierrez admitted he couldn’t juggle or tap dance — though he did do a little soft shoe — the rapt audience was glued to their seats.

03152010_ElektraLuxx2.jpgAnd none of it could’ve happened if “Elektra Luxx” wasn’t something worthwhile and the audience wasn’t as invested in it as the actresses involved were. The cast joined Gutierrez onstage for an impromptu Q & A slightly after SXSW Film chief Janet Pierson breathlessly stepped up to tell the audience that the projector was being looked at and compared the experience to a San Francisco Film Festival screening of “She’s Gotta Have It” where she killed 45 minutes with Spike Lee until the film came back up. Gutierrez’s film never did and ultimately Pierson told the audience to keep an eye on Twitter and the SXSW web site for a makeup screening.

And expect many to return. Like its predecessor, “Elektra Luxx” is incredibly uneven since it seems like it comes directly from Gutierrez’s subconscious, full of wild diversions (like I said, there’s a musical number that comes out of nowhere), clever and not-so-clever double entendres and sexual fantasies (including an extended lap dance by Chriqui, who grinds on co-star Adrianne Palicki) in a tangled set of stories that extend “Women in Trouble”‘s narrative further into the complicated lives of the retired porn star Luxx (Gugino), her old co-star (Palicki) with longings for her best friend (Chriqui) and the low-rent online porn critic (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who reviews it all.

I can’t speak for Akerman, but even though this is an ensemble effort, Gugino understands that its her character’s name in the title and steals the film with an incredibly confident performance that truly becomes a revelation when she has to appear in a dual role as Luxx’s incarcerated twin sister. For those who weren’t able to see Gugino on Broadway in a 2009 production of “Under the Elms,” one is reminded again of her range as she is alternatingly vulnerable, tough, funny and heartbreaking during one five-minute scene in which she occupies by sides of a table during a prison visit. It was the highlight of the film for me, but not the highlight of the evening. That would have to be seeing the passion of Gutierrez in not letting the ship go down and in turn, leaving the rest of the audience buoyant as they left the theater.

“Elektra Luxx” currently has no U.S. distribution.

[Photos: Carla Gugino in “Elektra Luxx,” Gato Negro Films, 2010; SXSW photo taken by Stephen Saito]

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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.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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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.