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A Week Of Discoveries on DVD* (Not Requiring a Gun to Find Them)

A Week Of Discoveries on DVD* (Not Requiring a Gun to Find Them) (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD today:

“Meskada” (2010)
Directed by Josh Sternfeld
Released by Anchor Bay Entertainment

When this thriller premiered at Tribeca this past spring, Alison Willmore wrote, “the second film from writer/director Josh Sternfeld (“Winter Solstice”) has ambitions reaching beyond being a straightforward police procedural,” though critics, including her, were mixed about the end result. Nick Stahl and Rachel Nichols star as small-town sleuths who investigate a botched home invasion case that claims the life of a young child in an affluent community and enflames class divisions when the main suspects are from the poorer community nearby. Grace Gummer, Meryl Streep’s second daughter to go into the family profession, makes her film debut.

“Anywhere USA” (2008)
Directed by Chusy Haney-Jardine
Released by Cinevolve Studios

Winner of a Spirit of Independence prize at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival, Chusy Haney-Jardine’s collection of three comic vignettes involves a relationship that threatens to go sour when a woman consistently beats her boyfriend at tennis, an elder gentleman’s epiphany, and a young girl whose curiosity gets the best of her. Writing for Cinematical, James Rocchi approved quite heartily of the film back during its debut, though it may have been too absurdist for a wider release.

“The Associate” (1979)
Directed by Rene Gainville
Released by Pathfinder Home Entertainment

This French comic thriller stars Michel Serrault as a down-on-his-luck businessman who finds success after creating a fictional partner only to become jealous when his wife and child become infatuated with the partner they’ve never seen, leading Serrault to plot a murder of the man who doesn’t really exist.

“Battle of Los Angeles” (2011)
Directed by Mark Atkins
Released by The Asylum

Kel Mitchell and Nia Peeples headline this disaster flick that has completely, absolutely, positively nothing to do with the Aaron Eckhart blockbuster “Battle: LA,” though both share a premise of aliens descending upon Los Angeles and the words “Battle, Los, and Angeles” in the title.

“Bedrooms” (2010)
Directed by Youssef Delara
Released by Osiris Entertainment

“Dexter”‘s Julie Benz, Xander Berkeley, and Moon Bloodgood are all part of this ensemble drama featuring several couples facing make-or-break moments in their relationship as a married couple (Benz and Berkeley) grapple with one sleeping with the pizza delivery man, an older couple (Dee Wallace Stone and Barry Bostwick) who are threatened by a past relationship, and a younger couple (Jordan Belfi and Bloodgood) who are having problems connecting to each other intimately.

“The Big I Am” (2010)
Directed by Nic Auerbach
Released by Entertainment One

Nic Auerbach’s first feature fits nicely into the tradition of British crime dramas as it features a low-level hood (Leo Gregory) on the rise if only he can come to terms with how ruthless he must become. Michael Madsen co-stars because why not?

“Blood” (2010)
Directed by Ten Shimoyama
Released by Well Go USA

A vampire (Aya Sugimoto) bewitches both a swordsman (Jun Kaname) and a detective (Kanji Tsuda) looking into a murder committed at her home in this Japanese thriller with a horror twist.

“Consinsual” (2010)
Directed by Paul Hannah
Released by Entertainment One

Director Paul Hannah explores the aftermath when a woman accuses her husband of rape in this martial drama.

“Dark Fields” (2009)
Directed by Doug Schulze
Released by Entertainment One

The slow march of the late David Carradine’s final films continues with Doug Schulze’s horror film (originally called “The Rain”) about a family farm cursed over three generations to sacrifice one of their own to bring rain. Dee Wallace Stone and Richard Lynch co-star.

03222011_Devolved.jpg“Devolved” (2011)
Directed by John Cregan
Released by MPI Home Video

The much-beloved cult DVD label Severin dipped their toe into first-run distribution with this teen comedy about a group of high schoolers whose spring break doesn’t go according to plan when their cruise ship gets lost off the Mexican coast and the already existing tensions between two cliques deepen further between those who are ready to leave high school and those who are afraid to face the future. At least they have kegs and Chris Kattan to keep them company.

“Eclipse Series 26: Silent Naruse”
Directed by Mikio Naruse
Released by Criterion Collection

Despite being nearly as acclaimed in his native Japan as the internationally worshipped Yasujiro Ozu, Mikio Naruse’s character studies aren’t nearly as well known, yet Criterion aims to change all that with this collection of the director’s only five silent films to survive, which have never been released in the U.S. on DVD before, including “Flunky, Work Hard,” “No Blood Relation,” “Apart From You,” “Every Night Dreams” and “Street Without End.”

“Family Secret” (2010)
Directed by Geno McGahee
Released by Tempe Video

The grandmother in Geno McGahee’s horror film is not kind.

“How Do You Know” (2010)
Directed by James L. Brooks
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

James L. Brooks’ much-maligned romantic comedy may get a second life on home video where the more eccentric charms of this Reese Witherspoon-Owen Wilson-Paul Rudd love triangle. Witherspoon stars as a softball player who’s set up on a blind date the same day she gets cut from her team, which coincidentally is also when the man she’s going to meet (Rudd) becomes the target of a massive criminal indictment. Jack Nicholson co-stars.

“Kluge in the Beginning”
Directed by Alexander Kluge
Released by Facets

Facets’ dedication to the pioneering German director continues with this four-disc collection of his earliest work including the features “Part-Time Work of a Domestic Slave,” “Artists: Under the Big Top: Perplexed,” “The Big Mess,” and “Willi Tolber and the Decline of the 6th Fleet,” in addition to six of his short films.

“Looking for Palladin” (2009)
Directed by Andrzej Krakowski
Released by Monterey Media

Ben Gazzara stars as an ex-pat movie star enjoying life in Guatemala who needs to be wooed back to Hollywood by a young agent (David Moscow) in this comedy that also features Talia Shire and Vincent Pastore.

“Our Hospitality” (1923)
Directed by Buster Keaton and Jack Blystone
Released by Kino

In addition to already sterling editions of “Steamboat Bill Jr.” and “The General” on Blu-ray, Kino is releasing yet another Buster Keaton classic in high definition with this comedy where he takes a train ride to claim his inheritance and discovers it is nothing like he thought it would be. There’s a score by Carl Davis, a making-of documentary, a 49-minute alternate cut of the film called “Hospitality” and more.

03222011_PeopleIveSleptWith.jpg“The People I’ve Slept With” (2009)
Directed by Quentin Lee
Released by Maya Entertainment

“My So-Called Life” star Wilson Cruz stars in Quentin Lee’s ensemble comedy about a woman (Lynn Chen) whose promiscuity leads to a pregnancy where she doesn’t know who the father is.

“The Perfume of the Lady in Black” (1974)
Directed by Francesco Barilli
Released by RaroVideo

Another rarity brought to you by the folks at RaroVideo, Barilli’s giallo stars Mimsy Farmer as a chemist named Sylvia who is haunted by the titular “Lady in Black” that appears in mirrors, though Sylvia doesn’t know who she is and must recall some particularly painful moments in her past to figure it out.

“The Quiet Arrangement” (2009)
Directed by David C. Snyder
Released by HWIC Filmworks

Chuck D puts in an appearance in this thriller from David C. Snyder about an attorney frustrated by efforts to retrieve his wife from a kidnapping plot who takes action to get revenge.

“Sasha” (2011)
Directed by Dennis Todorovic
Released by Strand Releasing

Dennis Todorovic’s drama centers on a young gay pianist (Sascha Kekez) who hides his sexuality from his father, though his secret may be revealed when his best friend who pretends to be his girlfriend starts an affair with his brother.

“Siren” (2011)
Directed by Andrew Hull
Released by Lionsgate

Andrew Hull’s British thriller starts as many do, with a group of vacationing pals who make the mistake of following a beach babe to their potential demise when they reach a set of islands where they’re not alone.

“Skyline” (2010)
Directed by Greg and Colin Strause
Released by Universal Home Video

Don’t be distracted by the Universal logo or the Strauses’ inauspicious directorial debut on “Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem” — their second feature was purely independent, financed and created by their special effects shop Hydraulx, which has worked on films ranging from “2012” to “Avatar.” Inspired by the success of “District 9” and “Paranormal Activity,” the brothers set out on their own to make an alien invasion tale with a small crew and big “crazy shit that when you try to get it through the 20 other producers and studio people, everyone always filters down,” as Colin told audiences at Comic-Con. The result is a film no one knows much about yet, other than it’s a race-against-the-clock thriller for a group of Angelenos who fear being sucked into the sky by ginormous spaceships.

“A Streetcar Named Desire” (1995)
Directed by Glenn Jordan
Released by Image Entertainment

This much-hyped TV adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ drama that featured Alec Baldwin as Stanley Kowalski and Jessica Lange as Blanche DuBois, not to mention John Goodman and Diane Lane in supporting roles, will finally make its debut on DVD after more than 15 years.

03222011_JohnnyDeppTourist.jpg“The Tourist” (2010)
Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Now best known in the U.S. as one of Ricky Gervais’ most wicked punchlines on the Golden Globes, this Angelina Jolie-Johnny Depp throwback to the globetrotting thrillers of the 1960s wherein a chance encounter on a train between the two leads to Depp’s American adventurer unwittingly being caught up in a web of international intrigue. Paul Bettany and Timothy Dalton co-star in the latest from “The Lives of Others” director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.

“The Twist” (1976)
Directed by Claude Chabrol
Released by Pathfinder Home Entertainment

Bruce Dern and Ann-Margret appear in this comedy about a poet (Dern) frustrated by both his work and his wife’s sexual fantasies that the French master Chabrol considered to be one of his lesser works, perhaps explaining why it’s taken so long to see an American DVD release. Stéphane Audran, Jean-Pierre Cassel and Sybil Danning help fill out an all-star cast.

Directed by Dean Gold
Released by Magnolia Home Entertainment

Writer/Director Dean Gold’s low-budget sci-fi flick is set in the future where a salesman (Ben Seton) comes to confront the technological virus he once sold and becomes the charge of a stealthy, ass-kicking agent (Dominika Wolski).

“The Windmill Movie” (2008)
Directed by Alexander Olch
Released by Zeitgeist Films

A New York Film Festival selection in 2008, this documentary is the end product of Alexander Olch’s attempt to finish what his mentor, the late filmmaker Richard P. Rogers, had started by collecting over 200 hours of footage from his life to make his autobiography.

“Women on the Verge: Rembetiko / Another Sky” (1983/1954)
Directed by Gavin Lambert and Costas Ferris
Released by Facets

For this decidedly estrogen-heavy double bill, Facets pairs Ferris’ 1983 Greek drama “Rembetiko” about a blues singer who channels her struggles into her music and Lambert’s 1954 British drama “Another Sky” about a governess who travels to Marrakesh and becomes enchanted with the exoticism of Morocco.

“Yogi Bear” (2010)
Directed by Eric Brevig
Released by Warner Home Video

Sadly, Warner Brothers probably isn’t including that awesome (fake) alternate ending where Boo Boo reluctantly puts an end to his relationship with Yogi in no uncertain terms, but instead you can see Dan Aykroyd and Justin Timberlake yukking it up as the voices of the CG-animated bears who find their beloved Jellystone Park under the threat of closure until a documentarian (Anna Faris) and Park Ranger Smith (Tom Cavanagh) team up to try to keep the park open.

New to Blu-ray: The Jeff Bridges-Rachel Ward romance “Against All Odds”, the 1997 animated flick “Anastasia”, “Awakenings”, Wayne Wang’s 2005 children’s film “Because of Winn Dixie,” John Huston’s “The Bible”, the Eddie Murphy remake of “Dr. Dolittle,”, “Ernest Goes to Camp/Ernest Goes to Jail”, “Flicka”, “Random Hearts”, the 2005 CG animated “Robots”, “Scary Movie 4”, “Stand by Me”, “The Times of Harvey Milk” (Criterion)

[Additional photos: “Devolved,” Severin Films, 2011; “The People I’ve Slept With,” Maya Entertainment, 2009; “The Tourist,” Sony Pictures, 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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