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Alejandro Amenabar’s “Tesis” Statement and More New on DVD

Alejandro Amenabar’s “Tesis” Statement and More New on DVD (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD today:

“Tesis” (1996)
Directed by Alejandro Amenabar
Released by Widowmaker Films

Long out of print, “The Others” director Alejandro Amenabar’s debut about a grad student’s discovery of a snuff film is being remastered and rereleased by Widowmaker Films.

“Alice in Murderland” (2011)
Directed by Dennis Devine
Released by Brain Damage Films

A year after Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland” scared the bejeezus out of kids in multiplexes everywhere, this horror take on Lewis Carroll’s classic fairy tale aims to do so intentionally on DVD players around the country.

“America, America” (1963)
Directed by Elia Kazan
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

Elia Kazan’s most personal film based on the story of his uncle’s immigration to the United States from Turkey, where as a Greek his family is persecuted, was already released as part of last year’s Kazan boxed set, but now will be available on an individual disc for the first time on the format.

“Bad Day to Go Fishing” (2009)
Directed by Alvaro Brechner
Released by Film Movement

Uruguayan filmmaker Brechner’s drama revolves around a weightlifter and his manager who tour South American villages, putting on small-time wrestling matches, until their relationship threatens to be derailed when a major opportunity presents itself in the big city.

“Cake” (2011)
Directed by Will Wallace
Released by Osiris Entertainment

“Melrose Place”‘s Thomas Calabro and “Police Academy”‘s G.W. Bailey are two of the wedding guests in this comedy about a couple whose plans to elope are thwarted by relatives who want a big ceremony.

“Drop Dead Gorgeous” (2011)
Directed by Philip Alderton
Released by Peace Arch Trinity

Before his stint in “Celebrity Rehab,” Jeremy London starred in this comedy set in the world of modeling.

02062011_ForColoredGirls.jpg“For Colored Girls” (2010)
Directed by Tyler Perry
Released by Lionsgate

Perry assembled one of his most accomplished casts to date for this adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s much-beloved play comprised of a series of monologues detailing the African-American woman’s experience. Janet Jackson, Kerry Washington, Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashad, Whoopi Goldberg, Thandie Newton, Loretta Devine and Kimberly Elise star.

“French Gigolo” (2008)
Directed by Josiane Balasko
Released by MPI Home Video

“French Twist” writer/director Josiane Balasko returns with this comedy about a construction worker who earns a salary on the side by servicing rich women such as Nathalie Baye’s businesswoman before his marriage and emotions get in the way.

“The Girl” (2009)
Directed by Fredrik Edfeldt
Released by Olive Films

Winner of prizes at Berlinale and the Athens Film Festival in 2009, Fredrik Edfeldt’s character study follows a 10-year-old girl as she’s abandoned by both her parents and her aunt and must spend the summer fending for herself.

“Group Marriage” (1974)
Directed by Stephanie Rothman
Released by Code Red

The rare female exploitation director of the ’70s, Rothman’s comedy about six people (three of whom are former Playboy Playmates) living with and loving each other isn’t exactly a hard-hitting exposé on communal marriage.

“Hideaway” (2010)
Directed by Francois Ozon
Released by Strand Releasing

A young woman (Isabelle Carré) must cope with her husband’s fatal drug overdose while being pregnant with his child in this character study from “Swimming Pool” director Ozon.

02062011_HighLane.jpg“High Lane” (2009)
Directed by Abel Ferry
Released by MPI Home Video

A group of French teenagers have two obstacles to conquer as they attempt to evade a killer while hiking in the mountains of Croatia in this thriller from French director Abel Ferry.

“I Spit on Your Grave” (2010)
Directed by Steven R. Monroe
Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment

A remake of the highly controversial 1978 horror film about a woman who seeks her revenge on the group of men who gangraped her is updated with Sarah Butler in the lead and still isn’t for the faint of heart.

“It’s Kind of a Funny Story” (2010)
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
Released by Universal Home Video

Considered a bit of a misfire when released theatrically, the team behind “Half Nelson”‘s stab at a teen comedy may find a broader audience at home. Based on Ned Vizzini’s novel, “United States of Tara” star Keir Gilchrist plays a depressed teen who checks himself into a psych ward where he finds himself more comfortable around the likes of Zach Galifianakis and Emma Roberts. (Matt Singer’s review and his interview with Zach Galifianakis is here.)

“Kalamity” (2010)
Directed by James M. Hausler
Released by Screen Media Films

Nick Stahl stars in this thriller as Billy, who returns home after suffering a bad breakup and hopes to take comfort with close friends from the past. Unfortunately for him, his best bud Stanley (Joshua Jackson) has demonstrated increasingly erratic behavior as he becomes obsessed with a local girl who turns up missing, leading Billy to put his friend’s troubles before his own as things dangerously spiral out of control.

“The Last Play at Shea” (2010)
Directed by Paul Crowder and Jon Small
Released by Lionsgate

The story of both Billy Joel’s career and the famed New York stadium collide in this documentary about the singer/songwriter’s final concert at Shea. (Matt Singer’s review from the Tribeca Film Festival is here.)

“Life As We Know It” (2010)
Directed by Greg Berlanti
Released by Warner Home Video

Katherine Heigl and Josh Duhamel struggle to raise the child of their friends who died in an accident in this dramedy from Greg Berlanti, who returned to the screen 10 years after “The Broken Hearts Club” and making his fortune in television, creating shows like “Everwood” and “Brothers and Sisters.”

02062011_MiddleMen.jpg“Middle Men”
Directed by George Gallo
Released by Paramount Home Entertainment

The film about the Internet that dealt with its seedier side, Gallo’s lighthearted look at the early days of the World Wide Web centers on the invention of secure credit card transactions, popularized of course by their use on porn sites. Luke Wilson stars as the entrepreneur who gets involved in the underworld that accompanies such a business, alongside James and Scott Caan, Giovanni Ribisi, Jacinda Barrett and Kelsey Grammer.

“My Soul to Take” (2010)
Directed by Wes Craven
Released by Rogue Pictures

A young cast including “Half Nelson” star Shareeka Epps and “Jumper”‘s Max Thieriot are tormented by a serial killer who were all born on the same day in the latest from Wes Craven.

“Nora’s Hair Salon 3: Shear Disaster” (2011)
Directed by Rico Johnson
Released by 1-2-3-4-Go

Amazingly, this “Barbershop” knockoff for the ladies has stuck around for one more film than the original that inspired it, bringing Miguel A. Nunez Jr. into the fold as a reality show producer who wants to do a series on the salon, but may not be as benevolent as he appears.

“Ominous” (2011)
Directed by Justin Bergonzoni
Released by Midnight Releasing

This low-budget horror flick features a family haunted by some all-too-literal ghosts from their past when they’re on vacation in a cabin in the woods.

“Ong Bak 3” (2011)
Directed by Panna Rittikrai
Released by Magnolia Home Entertainment

Only a month after it hit theaters, the latest installment of Rittikrai and Tony Jaa’s deathdefying Muay Thai martial arts series centers on our hero Tien’s (Jaa) discovery of the more dance-like Nathayut fighting style as he struggles to break free from his captors from “Ong Bak 2” and faces off against the supernaturally-charged Lord Crow Ghost.

“Paranormal Activity 2” (2010)
Directed by Tod Williams
Released by Paramount Home Entertainment

“The Door in the Floor” director Williams scored the gig of helming the spooky followup to Oren Peli’s surprise haunted house hit that moves the action over to the house of the sister (Sprague Grayden) of the first film’s Katie (Katie Featherston) and her husband (Brian Boland) where they believe they’re under attack from evil spirits, but find that their young son is strangely unharmed.

“Political Promise” (2011)
Directed by Sef DeChristopher
Released by Maverick Entertainment Group

Sef DeChristopher’s comedy stars Jack Shepherd as a governor who discovers politics is easy compared to what happens when one of his constituents makes a voodoo doll that accidentally lands in the hands of a group of children who have their way with the politician.

02062011_RepoChick.jpg“Repo Chick” (2009)
Directed by Alex Cox
Released by CAV Distribution

A greenscreen-heavy “spiritual sequel” to Cox’s landmark cult hit “Repo Man,” Jaclyn Jonet (star of Cox’s last film “Searchers 2.0”) is a surrogate for Emilio Estevez’s Otto as Pixxi De La Chasse, a spoiled brat who turns the repossession of her own car into an opportunity to become “Repo Chick,” a position that somehow requires her to stop a group of tree-hugging terrorists from using the missiles on board an antique train to blow up Los Angeles.

“Riot” (1969)
Directed by Buzz Kulik
Released by Olive Films

Gene Hackman and Jim Brown team up to attempt to stage a riot in the prison yard and make a break for it in this William Castle-produced thriller based on the book by Frank Elli.

“Role/Play” (2011)
Directed by Rob Williams
Released by Guest House Films

An actor who’s just been publicly brought out of the closet and a gay marriage activist licking his wounds from a divorce both repair to a Palm Springs resort and discover they have a lot to talk about in this drama from writer/director Rob Williams.

“The Romantics” (2010)
Directed by Galt Niederhoffer
Released by Paramount Home Entertainment

Romance gets ugly in Galt Niederhoffer’s adaptation of her own novel about an incredibly tight-knit group of friends (including Malin Akerman, Adam Brody and Elijah Wood) who gather for the wedding of Tom and Lila (Josh Duhamel and Anna Paquin), though Tom may still carry a torch for the couple’s mutual best friend Laura (Katie Holmes).

“See You in September” (2009)
Directed by Tamara Tunie
Released by Maya Entertainment

“Law and Order: SVU” actress Tamara Tunie recruited Estella Warren and Justin Kirk to star in her directorial debut, a romantic comedy about a commitment-phobic woman (Warren) who enters panic mode when her therapist goes on holiday, leaving her to develop her own support group.

“Speed Dating” (2010)
Directed by Joseph A. Elmore
Released by Image Entertainment

It’s not often you’ll see a cast including Clint Howard, Chris Elliott and Chingy, but that’s the case with Joseph A. Elmore’s urban comedy about three bachelors on the prowl who put together a speed dating night to meet women while making money in the process.

“Still Walking” (2008)
Directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda
Released by Criterion Collection

Criterion has put together a package of video interviews and an on-set documentary to accompany Kore-eda’s delicate drama about a family who comes together on the anniversary of the death of their eldest son and focuses in on the ripple effect that’s had on each of their lives. (Mike D’Angelo’s review is here.)

02062011_TamaraDrewe.jpg“Tamara Drewe” (2010)
Directed by Stephen Frears
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

An underseen gem when it was released in the fall, Frears’ latest film is a cheeky update of Thomas Hardy’s “Far From the Maddening Crowd” by way of Posy Simmonds’ wicked graphic novel about a young woman (Gemma Arterton) who upsets the balance in a small, sleepy village that is home to a writers’ commune when she arrives to help prep the sale of her parents’ home and attracts the attention of a rock star (Dominic Cooper). (James Rocchi’s review and my interview with Stephen Frears can be found here.)

“Trapped: Haitian Nights” (2010)
Directed by Jean-Claude La Marre
Released by 1-2-3-4-Go

Vivica A. Fox stars in this thriller as a detective investigating the mysterious disappearance of a doctor’s wife in Haiti.

“Unmade Beds” (2009)
Directed by Alexis Dos Santos
Released by MPI Home Video

Threesomes, crazy costumes and wild parties are just a part of the sophomore feature from Dos Santos, which follows Axl (Fernando Tielve) and Vera (Deborah François), two young, foreign-born bohemians in London as the former pursues his long-estranged father and the latter attempts to forget her recent heartbreak. (R. Emmet Sweeney’s interview with Dos Santos is here.)

“When I Rise” (2010)
Directed by Mat Hames
Released by PBS

A documentary about the struggle of African-American mezzo-soprano Barbara Smith Conrad, who raised the ire of some members of the Texas legislature when she was cast in an opera opposite a white classmate while at the University of Texas in 1957.

02062011_WildTarget.jpg“Wild Target” (2010)
Directed by Jonathan Lynn
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

Emily Blunt and Bill Nighy can’t help but be winning in this occasionally funny conman comedy about a hitman (Nighy) who loses his passion for the job when he meets his latest intended bullseye (Blunt), an art forger, and decides to protect her from the man she duped (Rupert Everett) and the assassin who he’s hired (Martin Freeman) to chase after them. (My review is here.)

“WUSA” (1970)
Directed by Stuart Rosenberg
Released by Olive Films

Paul Newman plays a radio deejay who goes off-script at the right-wing station in the Deep South in this drama that reteamed him with “Cool Hand Luke” director Stuart Rosenberg.

“Year of the Fish” (2007)
Directed by David Kaplan
Released by Gigantic Pictures

Adding a bit more whimsy to the time-old Cinderella story by applying the rotoscoping technique used in Richard Linklater’s “Waking Life,” Kaplan’s drama set in New York’s Chinatown finds an immigrant (An Nguyen) living a rough life in the U.S. until she meets an accordion player (Ken Leung) who could hold the key to her happiness. (Aaron Hillis’ interview with Leung is here.)

“You Again” (2010)
Directed by Andy Fickman
Released by Disney Home Entertainment

Somehow Kristen Bell’s high-flying publicist doesn’t learn that her brother (James Wolk) is about to marry the girl who tormented her in high school (Odette Yustman) until the weekend of the wedding, nor does her mother (Jamie Lee Curtis) seem to realize that she had the same problem with the girl’s aunt (Sigourney Weaver) a generation earlier. However, that’s what makes the fur fly in this comedy that throws Betty White into the mix.

New to Blu-ray: “Amarcord” (Criterion), “Barb Wire”, the Jodie Foster drama “Five Corners”, “Flipper”, “Legends of the Fall”, the Michael Palin comedy “A Private Function”, “The River Wild”, “Thelma & Louise”, “Uncle Buck”, “Waist Deep”

[Additional photos: “For Colored Girls,” Lionsgate, 2010; “High Lane,” IFC Films, 2009; “Middle Men,” Paramount Vantage, 2010; “Tamara Drewe,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2010; “Wild Target,” Freestyle Releasing, 2010]

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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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GIFs via Giphy

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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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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