DID YOU READ

“Last Days Here,” Reviewed

“Last Days Here,” Reviewed (photo)

Posted by on

Though it wouldn’t necessarily be fair to label Don Argott and Demian Fenton’s latest film “Last Days Here” as a bookend to their wonderfully inspiring 2005 doc “Rock School,” there are definitely parallels between the two. Covering both ends of rock ‘n’ roll spectrum, the latter featured pre-teens picking up guitars and discovering the joys of Black Sabbath while the former depicts the painful descent of Bobby Liebling, the lead singer of the heavy metal band Pentagram who looks like death when we first meet him after drugs, alcohol and a host of bad decisions have left him in his parents’ basement with little hope for recovery at the age of 54.

Liebling’s story certainly isn’t how all rock star stories turn out, but it’s also not exactly atypical, which is why “Last Days Here” would appear to be a more nuanced episode of “Behind the Music” at first, except for the fact that Liebling’s journey probably wouldn’t immediately warrant much interest amongst the mainstream since the singer was too self-destructive to ever allow Pentagram to break through to a mass audience and he is far too gone to speak for himself. Yet Fenton (an editor on Argott’s previous project who gets a co-directing credit here) and Argott spent six years waiting for the story to reveal itself and that patience has been rewarded with a tale that’s sad, sometimes frustrating and ultimately triumphant.

Commitment runs throughout those closest to Bobby since it has to- Diane and Joe Liebling, his parents who look spry in comparison to their son, bring him fig newtons on their couch without complaint, and Sean “Pellet” Pelletier, a metal fan who compares meeting Liebling to “being a devout Christian and you bump into Jesus,” has kept the flame alive for one of his favorite bands by putting out compilation albums and steadily urging Bobby to clean up his act so he can get back in front of the mic. This is, despite the fact, as one interview subject puts it concisely, “Everybody who helps [Bobby] gets crapped on,” but even in his frail condition, each of them can somehow see the promise he had a young man when his trembling body was a result of some powerful pipes as opposed to a drug-induced symptom.

But then a funny thing on the way down Bobby’s downward spiral when he meets Hallie, a young fan from Philadelphia who, like many others in her generation rediscovered Pentagram in the early aughts when doom metal made a comeback with acts like Queen of the Stone Age, and somehow allows Bobby into her life. A May-December romance ensues, one that Hallie insists isn’t about money since “Bobby has none,” and it’s at this point that “Last Days Here” becomes something special as it separates itself from the tragic narratives of most rock docs or even the ones that have a happy ending.

“Last Days Here” could involve both of those things, but it never tips its hand and asks its audience to care for a central figure who is thoroughly unsympathetic because of what others see in him. As has usually been the case in Argott and Fenton’s work to date, it’s their ability to bring the stories out of the supporting characters, like the infectious passion of Pelletier, that make the film worthwhile, even as everyone on screen seems to more or less accept that Bobby is a lost cause. But “Last Days Here” isn’t weighed down by history, or much of anything for that matter as it uses a traditionally straightforward, slightly shaggy narrative to tell of Liebling’s rise and fall. Instead, it’s always looking forward as one strange turn in Liebling’s life after he meets Hallie begets another until ultimately, the film does reach a more traditional “will he or won’t he perform?” climax before surprising the audience one last time.

It would’ve been enough for “Last Days Here” to reintroduce Pentagram into the cultural lexicon since, in fact, their music is worthy of rediscovery, but the film goes far beyond that. As Pelletier remarks late in the picture, “Anything bad Bobby Liebling will do for his heart, he’ll do it – love, drugs, bacon pizza.” Seeing his story is good for everybody else’s.

“Last Days Here” plays once more on March 18th and currently does not have U.S. distribution.

Watch More
JaniceAndJeffrey_102_MPX-1920×1080

Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

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.

JaniceAndJeffrey_106_MPX-1920x1080

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.

Watch More
IFC-Die-Hard-Dads

Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

Posted by on
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.

Watch More
IFC-revenge-of-the-nerds-group

Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

Posted by on
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.

geowash_flat

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.

Watch More
Powered by ZergNet