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A Trip Through “Fantasia” to “Valhalla” and More New DVDs

A Trip Through “Fantasia” to “Valhalla” and More New DVDs (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD today:

“The Fantasia Collection”
Released by Disney Home Entertainment

While the headliner of Disney’s incredible group of releases on November 30th will be the four-disc Blu-ray double feature of “Fantasia” and “Fantasia 2000,” it’s what’s less publicized that should be exciting to both Disneyphiles and film fans in general. Starting with the hi-def debut of the two “Fantasias,” Disney will finally include amongst the films’ copious special features (many ported over from the out-of-print DVD set) the 1946 Salvador Dali-Walt Disney collaboration “Destino,” along with an 82-minute making-of documentary. And incidentally, Disney is also releasing three standalone documentaries that shouldn’t be overlooked in “The Boys: The Sherman Brothers’ Story” about the songsmiths behind the studio’s most famous musicals like “Mary Poppins,” “Walt & El Grupo,” which details the company-shifting trip Walt Disney took with his animators to Latin America as part of the Good Neighbor Policy during World War II, and the most acclaimed of the bunch, “Waking Sleeping Beauty,” which chronicles the resurrection of Disney’s animation division during the late ’80s and early ’90s.

“Alarm” (2008)
Directed by Gerard Stembridge
Released by MPI Home Video

“About Adam” director Gerard Stembridge’s latest film is a psychological thriller about a woman (Ruth Bradley) who moves from hustle and bustle of Dublin for the Irish countryside, only to be freaked out by how quiet her new hometown is during the day, leading to the installation of an alarm system after she finds someone has broken into her home and the idea that she could be of more danger to herself than those around her.

“Anotherworld” (2010)
Directed by Fabiomassimo Lozzi
Released by Breaking Glass Pictures

A selection of Frameline and the Chicago International Film Festival, Lozzi blends fiction and nonfiction with this collection of 43 monologues about the gay male’s experience in Italy.

11272010_CairoTime.jpg“Cairo Time” (2010)
Directed by Ruba Nadda
Released by MPI Home Video

A romantic drama both in its subject matter and setting, Patricia Clarkson stars as the wife of a U.N. official who is left adrift in an Egyptian hotel, where her only company is her husband’s friend (Alexander Siddig), during a three-week stay in the Middle East.

“Going the Distance” (2010)
Directed by Nanette Burstein
Released by Warner Home Video

Refreshingly foul-mouthed for a romantic comedy while not being of the gross-out variety, the narrative debut for longtime documentarian Nanette Burstein (“American Teen”) invovles a pair of young lovers (Drew Barrymore and Justin Long) whose relationship is born out of unfortunate timing as Barrymore’s journalist moves to San Francisco while Long’s A & R rep must stay in New York. While criticism about Long’s face proved more enduring than the actual film during its September release, it’s quite possible the comedy will find its audience on home video.

“Henry Jaglom Collection: Love & Romance”
Directed by Henry Jaglom
Released by Rainbow Releasing

On the eve of his latest film “Queen of the Lot,” the director rereleases his romantic dramas 1985’s “Always…But Not Forever,” 1997’s “Deja Vu” and 1992’s “Venice/Venice” (with appearances from David Duchovny and Melissa Leo).

“Knight and Day” (2010)
Directed by James Mangold
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

Although Tom Cruise’s return to action proved to be a box office disappointment domestically, this thriller, in which he stars as a secret agent who must protect a civilian (Cameron Diaz) who gets unwittingly involved in a massive conspiracy, wound up being an international success, perhaps partly because it has a pretty awesome chase scene through Spain. Peter Sarsgaard, Paul Dano, Maggie Grace and Viola Davis co-star.

“La Braconne” (1993)
Directed by Serge Pénard
Released by Pathfinder Pictures

A selection of Cannes, this French coming-of-age story tells of an 11-year-old who lives with his two uncles and gets them into trouble when he is responsible for the disappearance of some chickens in town and lets one of them take the fall.

“Life in Flight” (2008)
Directed by Tracey Hecht
Released by MPI Home Video

Patrick Wilson stars as an architect who seemingly has it all with a great marriage and a wonderful son until his flirtations with an urban designer (Lynn Collins) suggest that even though his life has gone according to plan, that isn’t what he wanted from life in director Tracey Hecht’s feature debut. Amy Smart co-stars. (My interview with Hecht is here.)

11272010_LiverpoolLisandroAlonso.jpg“Liverpool” (2009)
Directed by Lisandro Alonso
Released by Kino

Back in 2009, R. Emmet Sweeney called Lisandro Alonso’s latest film “one of the most challenging and rewarding films at Rotterdam,” unspooling the character study of a sailor who travels in search of his mother and admires all the sights to be seen on the bottom tip of South America.

“Lulu” (2002)
Directed by Jean-Henri Roger
Released by Pathfinder Pictures

Mathieu Amalric and Tony Gatlif put in appearances in this drama about a transsexual bar owner (Elli Medeiros) accused of murder who becomes romantically entangled with the journalist (Jean-Pierre Kalfon) who tries to set her free.

“Shadowland” (2010)
Directed by Wyatt Weed
Released by Pirate Pictures

In this horror film from director Wyatt Weed, Caitlin McIntosh stars as an amnesiac vampiress who doesn’t know whether to run from or towards a bounty hunter dispatched by the Vatican who claims he can save her soul.

“The Sicilian Girl” (2009)
Directed by Marco Amenta
Released by Music Box Films

Amenta dramatizes his 1997 documentary about the 17-year-old daughter of a mafioso who agrees to testify against the mob after the deaths of her father and brother in this Italian thriller that I thought “resembles a Hollywood B-picture of the 1940s” when I saw it last year.

“The Special Relationship” (2010)
Directed by Richard Loncraine
Released by HBO Home Video

Screenwriter Peter Morgan and Michael Sheen’s third entry into their shared Tony Blair series ultimately landed without director Stephen Frears and on HBO, but critics suggested Richard Loncraine filled in Frears’ shoes admirably in recounting the bond that formed between Blair and Bill Clinton (Dennis Quaid) between 1992 and 2000.

“The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” (2010)
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Released by Disney Home Entertainment

If old school Disney doesn’t do the trick this week, Jerry Bruckheimer’s bombastic spin on the “Fantasia” staple is also being released on DVD and Blu-ray, with “Undeclared” star Jay Baruchel getting the magic wand after he accidentally unleashes the mortal enemy of Nicolas Cage’s sorcerer and must send him back to hell. And win the girl (Teresa Palmer).

11272010_ValhallaRising.jpg“Valhalla Rising” (2010)
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
Released by MPI Home Video

Arguably one of the most visually striking depictions of Viking life ever forged, “Vahalla Rising” reunites Refn with his “Pusher” star Mads Mikkelsen for this elegiac journey across the Scottish Highlands interrupted by disembowlings, bludgeonings and beheadings at the hands of a warrior named One-Eye (Mikkelsen) in 1000 AD.

“Vampires Suck” (2010)
Directed by Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

We’re completists at, which is why we’re including the latest from cinematic arsonists Friedberg and Seltzer (“Date Movie” and “Meet the Spartans”) in this column. Ken Jeong and Diedrich Bader are present in this “spoof” of “Twilight” and whatever else has caught their fancy recently.

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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.


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…


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.



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 and the IFC app.

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