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Rachid Bouchareb Goes “Outside the Law”

Rachid Bouchareb Goes “Outside the Law” (photo)

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“I need to wait a few years to make another movie like this,” says Rachid Bouchareb, the director of “Outside the Law.” It’s a statement that doesn’t need much explanation, though not for the reasons you might think. Roughly a thousand protesters came out of the woodwork to picket the “Outside the Law”‘s premiere at Cannes this summer, a response to the film sight unseen by French nationalists who believed Bouchareb’s portrayal of one of the nation’s darkest hours as their occupation of Algeria violently came to an end during the mid- 20th century.

Months later, through a translator, Bouchareb appeared to shrug off the protests, saying, “France has been in this sort of debate about colonization and it’s own past for many years. And that debate always sort of turns into a political one.”

So what did intimidate the director about “Outside the Law”? Having to deal with the thousands of extras required over two weeks of shooting to mount Sétif massacre of 1945, a turning point in French-Algerian relations that left 103 people dead and provided the entry point for Bouchareb’s stirring follow-up to his Oscar-nominated 2006 World War II drama “Days of Glory.”

“To prepare the movie we took more than one year,” says Bouchareb. “Fourteen months preparation with a crew, 10 months to prepare and build the sets. [“Days of Glory”], the movie before, it was easier because you had one costume, one location.”

11192010_RachidBoucharebOutsidetheLaw.jpgThe scope of the film, which involved filming in four different countries, might’ve been new to Bouchareb, but the actors involved weren’t. “Outside the Law” actually carries over three of the central cast members from Bouchareb’s last historical epic — Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem and Sami Bouajila – yet they do not play the same roles, going from soldiers fighting for the French military, in spite of the discrimination they faced as Algerian enlistees, to brothers who separately work towards independence for their North African homeland.

That Bouchareb considers “Days of Glory” to be an easier shoot might sound strange, considering much of the action in “Outside the Law” takes place not in the heat of battle, but in the backrooms of the Parisian underground where Debbouze’s crafty Saïd paves the way for his more politically-motivated brothers with his investments in a cabaret and a young boxer who could be Algeria’s first champion in the ring. Meanwhile, the brothers Abdelkader (Bouajila) and Messaoud (Zem) integrate themselves into the FLN, a rebel liberation organization that resorts to violence to get their message across.

In a way, the brothers’ approach is an apt metaphor for “Outside the Law” itself, which finds its momentum as a traditionally rousing rags-to-riches crime narrative while thoroughly examining the myriad forces that determine success or failure in Algeria’s push for freedom. (Bouchareb has routinely cited Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Army of Shadows” as a reference point for its slow simmer.) However, that isn’t to say that the director agrees with that assessment.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a crime story,” says Bouchareb. “The crime, the reason behind it, is the politics. The only crime is to want to be a free man.”

Given the film’s epic scope and the tightening of film financing these days, it’s a little surprising that Bouchareb says he had no trouble pulling the production together, a byproduct of the international success of “Days of Glory,” though the ambition behind it firmly puts it in the camp of films mentioned as the kind they just don’t make anymore.

11192010_OutsidetheLaw4.jpgYet despite successfully managing the logistics of filming such large-scale scenes as a recreation of the Sétif massacre or “Outside the Law”‘s climax inside a subway station using the passing subway cars to witness public riots, Bouchareb appears to be prouder of the smaller moments, something that prompted discussion of his last film, “London River,” on more than a few occasions in the course of conversation. Still unreleased in America, the film centered on the families of victims of the London subway bombings, starring Brenda Blethyn as a mother in search of her daughter who forges a connection with a West African Muslim man (Sotigui Kouyate) who is looking for his son. (“It’s a wonderful movie,” Bouchareb says, beaming, adding that he wanted something less intense between “Days of Glory” and “Outside the Law.”)

And indeed, he will get his wish to make a smaller film for his next project, a buddy comedy between two female police officers called “Belleville’s Cop,” which will shoot in Los Angeles early next year. Co-written with “48 Hours” screenwriter Larry Gross, the film will revel in the culture clash between an Arab and American cop, something that’s been hallmark of Bouchareb’s work to date.

“My movies are kind of always the same theme,” says Bouchareb. “‘London River’ has parts of ‘Outside the Law’ and parts of ‘Days of Glory.’ ‘London River’ has the African guy go to London. In “Days of Glory,” they go from North Africa to Italy. It’s about cultures meeting. What changes is the way I change to film it.”

“Outside the Law” is now open in limited release.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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