Hitchin’ a Ride on “Black Lightning” and More New DVDs

Hitchin’ a Ride on “Black Lightning” and More New DVDs (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD today:

“Black Lightning” (2009)
Directed by Dmitriy Kiselev and Aleksandr Voytinskiy
Released by Universal Studios

“Wanted” director Timur Bekmambetov produced this Russian action flick about a man and his flying car, using the same effects team that worked on all of his previous films including “Night Watch.” A Russian trailer is here since where we’re going, we don’t need to understand words.

“7th Hunt” (2010)
Directed by Jon Cohen
Released by Vanguard Cinema

A motley group of young adults are abducted and forced to fend for their survival at an abandoned military training center in the middle of nowhere in Jon Cohen’s thriller.

“Alien Vs. Ninja” (2010)
Directed by Seiji Chiba
Released by Funimation

A selection of last year’s New York Asian Film Festival, Seiji Chiba’s crazy genre mashup may just be “the best and wittiest movie ever to air at 2am on the SyFy Channel” in the future, says our Matt Singer.

“All Star Superman” (2011)
Directed by Sam Liu
Released by Warner Home Video

While you wait for Zack Snyder’s take on the material in 2012, this animated adaptation of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s series about the Man of Steel will help fill the void as Lex Luthor’s most recent plan to kill Superman actually begins to drain the superhero’s powers and Superman starts to check off his bucket list, including revealing his true identity to Lois Lane.

02202011_Armless.jpg“Armless” (2010)
Directed by Habib Azar
Released by Vanguard Cinema

One of the first six films to be a part of Sundance’s NEXT section in 2010, Habib Azar’s dark comedy stars “Old Joy”‘s Daniel London as a married suburban insurance exec who longs to have his arms amputated, but his secretive quest to find someone to perform the procedure is mistaken for an affair by his wife (Janel Moloney).

“Birdemic: Shock and Terror” (2010)
Directed by James Nguyen
Released by Severin Films

Made by a software salesman-turned-aspiring-Ed-Wood James Nguyen, “Birdemic” threatened to take the mantle of favorite contemporary cult film away from “The Room” this summer with its exceptionally low budget take on a bird invasion.

“Black Rodeo” (1972)
Directed by Jeff Kanew
Released by Scorpion Entertainment

Kanew’s 1972 documentary about African-American cowboys has been in hiding in recent years, but will finally see the light of day on DVD where a wider audience will be able to see the rodeo in Harlem where Muhammad Ali is amongst the spectators to see the buckin’ broncos.

“Cam Girl” (2010)
Directed by Philip Gardiner
Released by Chemical Burn Entertainment

Bad things await a medical student who decides to make money for tuition by going online and acting out the fantasies of strangers on her webcam in this thriller by Philip Gardiner.

“Change of Plans” (2010)
Directed by Daniele Thompson
Released by MPI Home Video

The latest comedy from “Avenue Montaigne” writer/director Daniele Thompson boasts a typical star-studded cast including “Micmacs”‘ Dany Boon and Emmanuelle Seigner as part of a dinner party in Paris where the surprises are served up as frequently as the courses since there’s romantic complications aplenty within the group of friends.

“Climate of Change” (2010)
Directed by Brian Hill
Released by New Video Group

Expect the soothing sound of Tilda Swinton’s narration and Nitin Sawhney’s score in this Participant Media-produced doc about people worldwide who are striving to bring attention to the issue of global warming, from a group of 13-year-old Indian middle schoolers organize demonstrations against plastics to a British PR exec who uses her ability to sway opinion to help corporations become more earth-friendly.

02202011_DueDate.jpg“Due Date” (2010)
Directed by Todd Phillips
Released by Warner Home Video

Zach Galifianakis plays an aspiring actor who is Robert Downey Jr.’s only option to make it across the country in time for the birth of his child after the two get kicked off a plane in this comedy from “The Hangover” director Todd Phillips.

“Eyes of the Mothman” (2011)
Directed by Matthew J. Pellowski
Released by Virgil Films and Entertainment

Matthew J. Pellowski’s documentary inspects the mystery of a West Virginia town that’s long been suspected of being haunted.

“Fish Tank” (2010)
Directed by Andrea Arnold
Released by The Criterion Collection

Even though “Red Road” director Arnold’s sophomore feature tells of a rebellious teen’s quest to leave behind her ramshackle life with her mother (Kierston Wareing) and her mother’s new boyfriend (Michael Fassbender), Arnold already lifted lead Katie Jarvis out of obscurity when a casting director spotted her screaming at her boyfriend at a train station. After learning she could dance — the way her character Mia sees an opportunity to escape — Arnold cast the 18-year-old, who’s been winning raves ever since, as is the film, which picked up a Jury Prize at Cannes.

“Forgotten Pills” (2009)
Directed by David Hefner
Released by Synkronized USA

A winner at last year’s Dances With Films festival, “Hell Ride”‘s Larry Bishop stars in David Hefner’s thriller about a group of friends who decide to raise hell when they have a vial of pills that erases their memory from the night before, though unfortunately it won’t erase the memories of who they harm in the process.

“Get Low” (2010)
Directed by Aaron Schneider
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

This $7 million Southern-fried dramedy set in 1930s Tennessee stars Robert Duvall as a crotchety shut-in (Duvall) who emerges from his cabin to plan a funeral for himself while he’s still alive after receiving word of the death of one of his only friends. (The story was based on an ancestor of screenwriter Chris Provenzano’s own family tree.) Bill Murray co-stars as the funeral director who attends to his wishes in the feature debut of Schneider, a second-unit cinematographer on “Titanic” before going on to direct the Oscar-winning live-action short “Two Soldiers” in 2004.

“The Goatherd” (2009)
Directed by León Errázuriz
Released by Virgil Films and Entertainment

Things don’t go well for three hikers in the Chilean Andes who must fight for their survival in León Errázuriz’s high-altitude drama.

“Kartemquin Films Collection Early Years: Volume 2” (1969-1970)
Released by Facets

The Chicago-based documentary outfit continues to release their early treasures in these collection, this time covering the years 1969 through 1970 with the student protest shorts “Anonymous Artists of America, “Hum 255,” “What the Fuck Are These Red Squares?”

“The Killing Jar” (2010)
Directed by Mark Young
Released by Image Entertainment

Michael Madsen stars as a drifter with a shotgun who ends up having a cup of coffee in an out-of-the-way diner and is suspected of a horrific local murder by the strangers gathered there, some of whom are eager to take matters into their own hands. Danny Trejo, Amber Benson and Harold Perrineau co-star.

02202011_LastTrainHome.jpg“Last Train Home” (2009)
Directed by Lixin Fan
Released by Zeitgeist Video

Winner of Best Feature at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, first-time Chinese-Canadian feature filmmaker Fan takes a year to document the lives of the Zhangs, a family of migrant workers as they come together to celebrate Chinese New Year at their ancestral home and must make the same trek as 130 million others during that time.

“Leaving” (2009)
Directed by Catherine Corsini
Released by MPI Home Video

Kristin Scott Thomas stars in this French drama about a bored housewife who falls into a torrid affair with the man (Yvan Attal) hired by her husband (Sergi Lopez) to build her an office in their backyard.

“Massillon” (1991)
Directed by William E. Jones
Released by Facets

Documentarian Jones describes his coming out process in this impressionistic autobiography divided into three chapters about the small town of Massillon, Ohio where he grew up, the adversity to homosexuality in his community and a look at Santa Clarita, California.

“Mesrine: Killer Instinct” (2010)
Directed by Jean Francois Richet
Released by Music Box Films

Richet, who last made his American debut with the “Assault on Precinct 13” remake a few years back, returned to France to make a biopic of Jacques Mesrine, the legendary French criminal who terrorized an entire country through a run of robberies, home invasions, kidnappings and murders that earned him the title of “Public Enemy No. 1” during the 1970s. Vincent Cassel’s Mesrine is joined by Jeanne Schneider (Cecile de France) on the run from the police in the first part of four-hour epic. (Aaron Hillis’ interview with Vincent Cassel is here.)

“Midsummer Madness” (2007)
Directed by Alexander Hahn
Released by Vanguard Cinema

Alexander Hahn’s ensemble comedy from 2007 takes place on the Latvian celebration of Janu Nakts where a group of friends and lovers meet and reflect on their lives.

“The Patriot” (1979)
Directed by Alexander Kluge
Released by Facets

A take-off on Kluge’s “Germany in Autumn” segment about a teacher, this 1979 drama follows Hannelore Hoger’s educator as she discovers the body of a deceased German soldier who begins to speak to her about his experience at Salingrad during World War II as the director presents documentary footage, illustrations and recreations to reconcile the story of Germany’s past.

02202011_PurpleSea.jpg“Purple Sea” (2011)
Directed by Donatella Maiorca
Released by Strand Releasing

The romantic relationship between two women in Sicily during the 19th century shakes up the whole community in this true-life drama from director Donatella Maiorca.

“Psych: 9” (2010)
Directed by Andrew Shortell
Released by Lionsgate

Sara Foster, Cary Elwes and Michael Biehn star in this thriller about a woman (Foster) with a shaky psychological past who begins to see things while working the night shift at a hospital that make her think there’s a doctor there may be involved in a series of murders that are going on in the community.

“Room in Rome” (2010)
Directed by Julio Medem
Released by MPI Home Video

While we’re on the subject of European sapphic romance like “Purple Sea,” “Sex and Lucia” director Julio Medem’s latest pretty much revolves around two women who check into a hotel, make love and let the personal revelations follow.

“See What I’m Saying” (2010)
Directed by Hilari Scarl
Released by New Video Group

Hilari Scarl spends a year with four deaf entertainers — actor Robert DeMayo, Beethoven’s Nightmare drummer Bob Hiltermann, stand-up comedian CJ Jones, and singer TL Forsberg — as they cross paths and endure the usual struggle for stardom, albeit with additional hurdles towards mainstream acceptance.

“Senso” (1954)
Directed by Luchino Visconti
Released by The Criterion Collection

Expect this Technicolor-bursting romantic drama from the master filmmaker Luchino Visconti to test the color settings on your television as it tells the story of an Italian countess who turns to the arms of an Austrian soldier and risks the reputation of her nation while at war. The Criterion package is packed to the gills with a making-of documentary, a new doc on Visconti as well as a 1966 one from the BBC, a visual essay from Peter Cowie, and much more.

“Sunny & Share Love You” (2007)
Directed by Matthew Buzzell
Released by Vanguard Cinema

Matthew Buzzell’s comedy stars Michele Mulroney and Micah Craft as a rock duo that’s turned to the world of children’s music when they feel they’ve run their course, yet beome something parents wouldn’t want to take their kids to see. Chris Parnell and Diedrich Bader co-star.

“Sweet Smell of Success” (1957)
Directed by Alexander Mackendrick
Released by The Criterion Collection

Burt Lancaster stars as the most ruthless gossip columnist ever in this classic from Alexander Mackendrick, who gets the recognition he deserves with this Criterion edition of his most famous film that includes a 1986 documentary about the filmmaker, an interview with his pupil, “3:10 to Yuma” director James Mangold, a 1973 doc on the film’s cinematographer James Wong Howe and plenty more.

02202011_SwordofWar.jpg“Sword of War” (2009)
Directed by Renzo Martinelli
Released by Lionsgate

Rutger Hauer stars as the German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who sought to quell the insurrection by the Italian province of Lombardy in order to firm his grasp on the German empire in this historical epic from Renzo Martinelli, co-starring F. Murray Abraham.

“Teenage Paparazzo” (2010)
Directed by Adrian Grenier
Released by HBO Home Video

“Entourage” star Adrian Grenier’s documentary follows around 14-year-old paparazzi photographer Austin Visschedyk, who started following the actor when he took an interest in Paris Hilton. Noam Chomsky and Alec Baldwin are among those offering perspective.

“The Temptation of St. Tony” (2009)
Directed by Veiko Ounpuu
Released by Olive Films

Estonian writer/director Õunpuu follows up the well-received 2007 film “Sügisball” with an equally visually dazzling religious drama about a middle-aged manager (Eelmaa) who contemplates his goodness as a series of gradually surreal events begin to test him.

“Ten Inch Hero” (2007)
Directed by David Mackay
Released by Phase 4 Films

One young woman’s attempt to find the daughter she gave up at 15 by working at the same sandwich shop she believes her daughter’s working at is the driving force behind David Mackay’s ensemble dramedy, co-starring Clea Duvall, Sean Patrick Flanery, John Doe and Jensen Ackles.

“Two in the Wave” (2010)
Directed by Emmanuel Laurent
Released by Lorber Films

This documentary chronicles the rivalry and friendship between contemporaries Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, who both made the transition from writing about films for Cahiers du Cinemato making them and sharing Jean-Pierre Léaud as a lead before a falling out in 1968 separated them. Former Cahiers editor Antoine de Baecque wrote and narrates this look back through archival footage and rare interviews.

02202011_WaitingforHockney.jpg“Waiting for Hockney” (2007)
Directed by Julie Checkoway
Released by Littlest Birds Films

Julie Checkoway’s documentary takes on a bit of a thriller aspect as she unspools the story of Billy Pappas, a Baltimore waiter who harbors dreams of being an artist and has worked tirelessly for years on a single sketched-out recreation of Richard Avedon’s famous portrait of Marilyn Monroe before seeing whether he’s got the goods from no less of an authority than David Hockney. (My interview with Checkoway is here.)

“Water” (1985)
Directed by Dick Clement
Released by Image Entertainment

Michael Caine stars in this comedy about a small island that becomes a big interest of a host of nations looking to tap into its recently discovered mineral water supply. Valerie Perrine, Brenda Vaccaro and Billy Connolly co-star.

“Where Were You My Son?” (2008)
Directed by Robert Alfoldi
Released by Facets

Robert Alfoldi brings a melodramatic flair from his days as an opera director to this Hungarian drama about a mother and son whose questionable relationship has reached its boiling point when he brings home a new girlfriend.

“Zenith” (2010)
Released by Cinema Purgatorio

Ever see those posters around New York of this film saying “In Theaters Soon” and wonder where it would be? Well, the conspiracy thriller “directed by Anonymous” is hitting DVD where it follows a son’s quest to finish his father’s work to understand a world in which everyone is drugged into happiness after the apocalypse.

New to Blu-ray: “48 Hrs.”, “Killshot”, brace yourself for Radley Metger in hi-def with “The Lickerish Quartet”, “Memento: The 10th Anniversary Edition”

[Additional photos: “Armless,” A/M Entertainment, 2010; “Due Date,” Warner Bros., 2010; “Last Train Home,” Cinema Guild, 2010; “The Purple Sea,” Strand Releasing, 2010; “Sword of War,” Lionsgate, 2010; “Waiting for Hockney,” Littlest Birds Films, 2009]

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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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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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