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A Good Reason to Be “Bitter” This New Year and More New DVDs

A Good Reason to Be “Bitter” This New Year and More New DVDs (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD today:

“Bitter Feast”
Directed by Joe Maggio
Released by MPI Home Video

When a food critic (“Humpday”‘s Justin Leonard) takes a butcher knife to the restaurant of a celebrity chef (James LeGros), the chef plots the ultimate revenge in this gory satirical thriller from director Joe Maggio. (My review from the Los Angeles Film Festival is here.)

“Case 39”
Directed by Christian Alvart
Released by Paramount

2010 is probably a year best forgotten by Renee Zellweger, who not only appeared in the execrable “My Own Love Song,” which went straight to Netflix, but also this thriller that was filmed in 2006, but didn’t see a release until last fall. Zellweger stars as a social worker whose latest case involving a child (Jodelle Ferland) that she believes is a victim of abuse leads to something far more terrifying. Bradley Cooper and Ian McShane co-star.

“Catfish”
Directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost
Released by Universal Home Video

The secret may be out, but if you’re only catching up to the conversation now, all you need to know about Joost and Schulman’s (possibly) nonfiction film is that it’s about a man who befriends an eight-year-old girl online and becomes infatuated with her older sister before deciding to meet them both in person. (Alison Willmore’s insightful yet spoiler-filled review of the film is here.)

“Celestial Films: The Supreme Swordsman”
Directed by Li Pai-ling
Released by Funimation

After killing his 99 other foes, the second most feared swordsman in China seeks to filet the only one considered better in this 1985 epic from Shaw Brothers’ protégé Li Pai-ling in the director’s chair.

“Dinner for Schmucks”
Directed by Jay Roach
Released by DreamWorks Video

A remake of French director Francis Veber’s “The Dinner Game,” Roach’s take on this comedy about a corporate climber (Paul Rudd) who is forced by his boss to find the most socially awkward person around (Steve Carell) to invite to a feast where he will be mocked and humiliated relies far more on physical humor than the wordplay of the original, but is worthwhile for the opening sequence of mice dioramas alone.

“The Edge of Dreaming”
Directed by Amy Hardie
Released by Kino Lorber

Director Amy Hardie looks into human subconscious in this documentary that resulted from the death of her horse only hours after dreaming it would occur.

“Fright Flick”
Directed by Israel Luna
Released by Vicious Circle Films

“Ticked Off Trannies With Knives” director Israel Luna keeps the blades out for this campy satire of slasher films where the set of a horror film is stalked by a killer on the loose. From early reports, Luna wasn’t shy about spilling blood.

01052010_Gun.jpg“Gun”
Directed by Jessy Terrero
Released by Image Entertainment

Already at work on the third film together (“Blood Out”), 50 Cent and Val Kilmer are threatening to become this generation’s Paul Newman and Robert Redford. As for their second film together, they play a gunrunner and cop respectively who help each other in Detroit when there’s a crackdown on arms dealers, though there are enemies neither could anticipate. Annalynne McCord and John Larroquette co-star in “Soul Plane” director Jessy Terrero’s thriller.

“Howl”
Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Released by Oscilloscope Laboratories

“The Life and Times of Harvey Milk” documentarians Epstein and Friedman make the leap to narrative features by profiling another San Francisco icon in beat poet Allen Ginsberg during the 1957 obscenity trial that followed the publication of his landmark poem (with a little animation thrown in to illustrate its hallucinatory nature). James Franco stars as Ginsberg with “Mad Men”‘s Jon Hamm onhand to defend him in court as Jake Ehrlich.

“The Last Exorcism”
Directed by Daniel Stamm
Released by Lionsgate

The marketing pushed Eli Roth’s role as executive producer on this low-budget horror flick to great effect, but it was director Daniel Stamm and writers Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko’s dark sense of humor and unflinching depiction of a backwoods family’s attempt to exorcise their daughter with the help of a preacher who lost his faith that makes this a welcome addition to canon of demon-chasing flicks. (My review of the film is here.)

“Machete”
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Manquis
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

The smart folks at Sony decided to put out Rodriguez’s greatest hits — “Desperado”/”El Mariachi” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” — on Blu-ray to accompany the director’s latest, which puts Danny Trejo’s vigilante front and center amongst an all-star cast that includes Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Rodriguez and Don Johnson.

“Sci-Fi High”
Directed by Daniel Belusci and Steve Dispensa
Released by Midnight Releasing

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe there’s too many other films in the alien invasion/’50s-style musical genre, so this one from Dan Bellusci and Steve Dispensa is a bit of a rarity. It’s hard to describe otherwise, but the trailer is here.

“Ticking Clock”
Directed by Ernie Barbarash
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Cuba Gooding Jr. stars as a journalist who may be in over his head after he finds his girlfriend’s corpse accompanied by a journal that lists the killer’s next victims, pitting him in a race against time to protect them. Neal McDonough co-stars.

01052010_TouchingHome.jpg“Touching Home”
Directed by Logan and Noah Miller
Released by Millennium Media Services

The no-budget making of this drama from Northern California-based brothers Logan and Noah Miller was so riveting it inspired a bestselling book “Either You’re In or You’re In the Way”, so now it has a DVD to sit next to it on the shelf, detailing the Miller brothers’ real-life travails after their failed pursuit of minor league baseball careers leads to figuring out what they want to do with their lives as they face the additional challenge of maintaining a relationship with their alcoholic father (Ed Harris).

“Who Loves the Sun?”
Directed by Matt Bissonnette
Released by Osiris Entertainment

Lukas Haas, Molly Parker and Adam Scott star in this dramedy from “Passenger Side” director Matt Bissonnette about the return of a man (Haas) who left town without explanation years earlier only to offer not much of an explanation when he comes back to his wife (Parker) and best friend (Scott).

“Wolvesbayne”
Directed by Griff Furst
Released by Millennium Media Services

One of those delightfully random casts you usually only find on DVD shelves, Jeremy London, Mark Dacascos, “Even Stevens” star Christy Carlson Romano and Yancy Butler appear in this vampires versus werewolves thriller.

“The Yellow Handkerchief”
Directed by Udayan Prasad
Released by Millennium Media Services

“My Son the Fanatic” director Prasad helms this drama about two teens (Kristen Stewart and Eddie Redmayne) who pick up a just-released inmate (William Hurt) and drive through post-Katrina Louisiana contemplating the solitude that has brought them together and the lure of relationships that could set them free.

Oldies But Goodies Resurfacing or Appearing for the First Time on DVD: Jack Lemmon’s “Good Neighbor Sam”, “The Notorious Landlady”, “Phffft!”, “Under the Yum Yum Tree”

New to Blu-ray: “Backdraft”, “Coraline” (3D Blu-ray), “Ever After”, “Hope Floats”, “Lost in Translation”, “A Walk in the Clouds”

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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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