DID YOU READ

“Kick-Ass,” “Cyrus” and Looking Pretty

“Kick-Ass,” “Cyrus” and Looking Pretty (photo)

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Coming to you from the 2010 SXSW Film Festival, this week’s IFC News podcast tackles such pressing topics as: Does “Kick-Ass” indeed kick ass? Can “Cyrus” bring new life to classic rom-com ideas? How do the members of the close-knit Austin filmmaking community manage to act in and crew each other’s projects while also finishing their own? Do “Cold Weather” and “NY Export: Opus Jazz‎” make the case that indie films can look amazing even on a budget? And when is Matt going to drink that bowl of queso?

Download: MP3, 46:21 minutes, 42.4 MB

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There’s no Keyword Game giveaway this week, since we’re on the road. We’ll announce the winner of last week’s prize, the White Stripes documentary box set, in the next episode.

Trump Funny or Die

Art of the Spoof

Watch Johnny Depp, Jack McBrayer, Patton Oswalt and More in Funny or Die’s Donald Trump Biopic

Johnny Depp just got very classy.

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Photo Credit: Funny or Die

We’re barely halfway through February, but this year’s Too Many Cooks Award for the most bizarre comedy project is already a lock. Blindsiding the world with greatness without any warning, Funny or Die released a 50-minute Donald Trump parody starring an unrecognizable Johnny Depp as Donny.

Ron Howard introduces this “lost” 1988 TV movie adaptation of Trump’s how-to manual The Art of the Deal produced with the retro quality of a Wendy’s training video. Along for the big hair and shoulder pads flashback are Patton Oswalt, Alfred Molina, Todd Margaret‘s Jack McBrayer, Andy Richter, Rob Huebel, Jason Mantzoukas, Paul Scheer, and Michaela Watkins as Ivana — as well as many Reagan-era surprises like a cameo from that loveable cat eater ALF and a theme song by Kenny Loggins.

Much like Eric Jonrosh of The Spoils Before Dying and The Spoils of Babylon fame, “Trump” writes, directs, and narrates his own epic tale of real estate wheelings-and-dealings. Check out the trailer below, and head over to Funny or Die to watch the full Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal movie before the real Donald sics his army of lawyers on Will Ferrell and company. (For more bizarro Johnny Depp characters, be sure to catch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory this month on IFC.)

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]

Meadow Soprano’s Motel Menace

Meadow Soprano’s Motel Menace (photo)

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A young couple (played by “The Sopranos” star Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Josh Stewart) driving through the Mojave Desert stop for the night at an isolated motel in the psychological thriller “Wake,” which premiered this week at SXSW.

In the video below, I sit down with Sigler, Stewart and writer/director Chad Feehan, making his directorial debut, to talk about the film.

Check out all of our coverage from SXSW.



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