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SXSW Film 2011 Cheat Sheet

SXSW Film 2011 Cheat Sheet (photo)

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…Or we should say “Cheat Sheets” since this year’s SXSW Film Festival boasts over 140 films, requiring more than just one page to cover every single one of the narrative and documentary features that will be playing in Austin from March 11th through 19th. While the festival has already provided a very helpful schedule to flip through and PDF of the screening grid online, consider this your quick hit guide to all the features at the festival – every title leads to its corresponding festival page in addition to links to trailers, official sites, filmmakers’ Facebook pages and Twitter accounts so you can follow the action from the festival or from home.

Meanwhile, there will be plenty of action during these next two weeks on IFC.com where, in addition to our live video page, Matt Singer (@mattsinger) and I (@mfrushmore) will be filing reviews and interviews throughout the film festival. (You might’ve also heard there’s an Interactive fest, which Alex Blagg (@BajillionHits) will be covering, and a music fest, which Brandon Kim (@theforlorn) will be checking out.) With that in mind, here’s the rundown for the films gracing the Paramount, the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz and South Lamar and all the other theaters in Austin for the festival ahead.

[Headliners and Spotlight Premieres] [Festival Favorites] [Narrative and Documentary Competitions] [Emerging Visions and Lone Star States] [24 Beats Per Second and SX Global] [Midnighters and SX Fantastic]


03082011_13Assassins.jpg


Headliners

“13 Assassins” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Japanese trailer)
The Cast: Koji Yakusho, Takayuki Yamada, Yusuke Iseya, Goro Inagaki, Masachika Ichimura, Mikijiro Hira, Hiroki Matsukata, Ikki Sawamura, Arata Furuta, Tsuyoshi Ihara
Director: Takashi Miike
Fest Cred: Venice, Toronto, Pusan, Sitges, London
Distributor Description: Cult director Takeshi Miike delivers a bravado period action film set at the end of Japan’s feudal era in which a group of unemployed samurai are enlisted to bring down a sadistic lord and prevent him from ascending to the throne and plunging the country into a war-torn future.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Before Takashi Miike makes his way to Austin for the film’s premiere, you can check out David Hudson’s roundup of reviews from Venice and Toronto.

“The Beaver” (IMDb, official site, trailer)
The Cast: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin, Jennifer Lawrence, Cherry Jones, Riley Thomas Stewart
Director: Jodie Foster
SXSW Description: Two-time Academy Award winner Jodie Foster directs and co-stars with two-time Academy Award winner Mel Gibson in “The Beaver” – an emotional story about a man on a journey to re-discover his family and re-start his life. Plagued by his own demons, Walter Black was once a successful toy executive and family man who now suffers from depression. No matter what he tries, Walter can’t seem to get himself back on track…until a beaver hand puppet enters his life.

“Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop”
Director: Rodman Flender
SXSW Description: After a much-publicized separation with his former employers, did Conan O’Brien hit the road on a 32-City tour to connect with his fans or fill a void within himself? Filmmaker Rodman Flender followed O’Brien on his “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny on Television Tour” and returned with an intimate portrait of an artist trained in improvisation, captured at the most improvisational time of his career.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Austin American-Statesman’s Dale Roe talks with director Rodman Flender.

03072011_KingofLuck.jpg“The King of Luck”
The Cast: Willie Nelson, Annie Nelson, Paula Nelson, Amy Nelson, Lana Nelson, Lukas Nelson, Micah Nelson, Bobbie Nelson, Paul English, Bee Spears
Director: Billy Bob Thornton
SXSW Description: This is a documentary about Willie Nelson: the man, the songwriter, the friend, the father, legendary performer and champion of the family farmer. It goes further, however, as a film, it is about the end of the old west and how troubadours such as Willie Nelson keep the legend alive through storytelling.

“Paul” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen (voice), Jason Bateman, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader, Blythe Danner, John Carroll Lynch, Sigourney Weaver
Director: Greg Mottola
SXSW Description: Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (“Hot Fuzz,” “Shaun of the Dead”) reunite for Universal Pictures’ comedy-adventure “Paul” as two sci-fi geeks whose pilgrimage takes them to America’s UFO heartland. While there, they accidentally meet an alien named Paul (voiced by Seth Rogen) who brings them on an insane road trip that alters their universe forever.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Collider has five clips from the film and a glimpse of the exclusive poster Mondo has created for the festival.

“Source Code “ (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan, Vera Farmiga, Jeffrey Wright
Director: Duncan Jones (“Moon”)
SXSW Description: When soldier Captain Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) wakes up in the body of an unknown man, he discovers he’s part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train. In an assignment unlike any he’s ever known, he learns he’s part of a government experiment called the “Source Code,” a computer program that enables him to cross over into another man’s identity in the last 8 minutes of his life.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: EW has a look at the exclusive posters created by Olly Moss for “Source Code” and “Moon” that will be sold at the festival. Badass Digest‘s Devin Faraci interviewed Jones about the film.

“Super” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Rainn Wilson, Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Kevin Bacon, Nathan Fillian, Andre Rovo, Sean Gunn, Stephen Blackehart
Director: James Gunn
Fest Cred: Toronto
SXSW Description: When sad-sack loser Frank (Rainn Wilson) sees his ex-addict wife (Liv Tyler) willingly snatched by a seductive drug dealer (Kevin Bacon), he finds himself bereft and wholly unable to cope. But soon he decides to fight back under the guise of a DIY superhero called Crimson Bolt. With a hand-made suit, a wrench, and a crazed sidekick named Boltie (Ellen Page), the Crimson Bolt beats his way through the mean streets of crime in hopes of saving his wife.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: My interview with Gunn from the Toronto Film Festival. Mubi‘s David Hudson’s roundup (third entry down) from Toronto is here.

“Win Win” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Cannavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, Melanie Lynskey, Alex Schaffer, Margo Martindale Director: Tom McCarthy (“The Station Agent,” “The Visitor”)
Fest Cred: Sundance
SXSW Description: Tom McCarthy once again explores the depths and nuances of human relationships in his new film about the allegiances and bonds between unlikely characters. Disheartened attorney Mike Flaherty, who volunteers as a high school wrestling coach, stumbles across a star athlete through some questionable business dealings while trying to support his family. Just as it looks like he will get a double payday, the boy’s mother shows up fresh from rehab and flat broke, threatening to derail everything. McCarthy’s deft touch with balancing drama and comedy, broken hearts and poignant humanity is at play in “Win Win.”
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: SlashFilm has two clips and a featurette from the film. The L.A. Times’ interview with McCarthy from Sundance. Filmmaker‘s Jamie Stuart also has an interview.

03072011_BagofHammers.jpg

Spotlight Premieres

“A Bag of Hammers” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Jason Ritter, Jake Sandvig, Chandler Canterbury, Rebecca Hall, Carrie Preston, Todd Louiso, Gabriel Macht, Johnny Simmons
Director: Brian Crano
SXSW Description: An offbeat comedy about two misfit best friends incapable of growing up, whose direction is tested by an abandoned child, worn beyond his years; together they invent the family they’ve always needed.

“Becoming Santa” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Jack Sanderson, Susen Mesco, Dee Sinclair, Carol Myers, Ernest Berger
Director: Jeff Myers
SXSW Description: “Becoming Santa” is the story of one man entering the culture and character of Santa Claus for a single season. We follow Jack as he bleaches his hair, goes to Santa School and tries to do everything that Santa is asked to do. He works as a sidewalk Santa, does home visits, a Polar Express Train and a parade. Along the way, Jack collects children’s wishes, learns about the benefits of belief, the history and origin of Santa and the ordinary people keeping the Santa spirit alive.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: The blog Pearl Snap Discount has an e-mail interview with Myers.

“Beginners” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Ewan McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Mélanie Laurent, Goran Visnjic
Director: Mike Mills (“Thumbsucker”)
Fest Cred: Toronto
SXSW Description: “Beginners” imaginatively explores the hilarity, confusion, and surprises of love through the evolving consciousness of Oliver (Ewan McGregor). Oliver meets the irreverent and unpredictable Anna (Mélanie Laurent of “Inglourious Basterds”) only months after his father Hal (Christopher Plummer) has passed away. This new love floods Oliver with memories of his father who – following 44 years of marriage – came out of the closet at age 75 to live a full, energized, and wonderfully tumultuous gay life. Now Oliver endeavors to love Anna with all the bravery, humor, and hope that his father taught him.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: David Hudson’s roundup of reviews and interviews from Toronto.

“Bob and the Monster” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
Director: Keirda Bahruth
SXSW Description: Six years in the making, this documentary film follows outspoken indie-rock hero Bob Forrest, through his life-threatening struggle with addiction, to his transformation into one of the most influential and controversial drug counselors in the US today. “Bob and the Monster” crafts contemporary footage, animation and compelling interviews with archival performances and personal videos from Bob’s past to reveal the complex layers of this troubled, but hopeful soul. Testimony from his peers, including Courtney Love, Anthony Kiedis and Flea add texture, but it’s the depth of Bob’s music, interwoven throughout the film, that illuminates this unforgettable and inspirational story.

03072011_Detention.jpg“Detention” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Josh Hutcherson, Dane Cook, Shanley Caswell, Spencer Locke, Aaron David Johnson, Walter Perez, Erica Shaffer, Parker Bagley, Alison Woods
Director: Joseph Kahn (“Torque”)
SXSW Description: “Detention” is a teen horror-comedy where the local students of Grizzly Lake must survive their final year of high school. Standing in their way is a slasher movie killer who has seemingly come to life. It becomes a race against time to stop the killer and save the world – if only they can get out of detention. The Detention cuts through prom. Most of them don’t have dates anyway.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Dread Central has new stills and a one-sheet for the film.

“Elevate” (IMDb, official site, Facebook)
The Cast: Amadou Gallo Fall
Director: Anne Buford
SXSW Description: Filmed over four years, from the dilapidated cement courts of Senegal to upscale American prep schools, “Elevate” documents the extraordinary personal journeys of four particularly tall West African Muslim teenagers. Recruited for both their physical and academic skills they accept basketball scholarships to schools in the United States–and face the daunting challenges of alienation, a foreign language, American-style basketball and an unfamiliar American culture rife with African stereotypes. But with courage, humor, and remarkable resilience, they relentlessly pursue their dreams–to obtain an education and a shot at the NBA.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Austin American-Statesman interview with Buford.

“Fambul Tok” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
Director: Sara Terry
SXSW Description: Victims and perpetrators of Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war come together for the first time in an unprecedented program of tradition-based truth-telling and forgiveness ceremonies. Through reviving their ancient practice of fambul tok (family talk), Sierra Leoneans are building sustainable peace at the grass-roots level — succeeding where the international community’s post-conflict efforts failed. Filled with lessons for the West, this film explores the depths of a culture that believes that true justice lies in redemption and healing for individuals — and that forgiveness is the surest path to restoring dignity and building strong communities.

“Fubar: Balls to the Wall” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Paul Spence, David Lawrence
Director: Michael Dowse
Fest Cred: Toronto, Edmonton
SXSW Description: Headbanger relics, Terry and Dean, are tired of trying to give’r while barely scraping by, so they head up North to make sweet cash working on the pipelines. Flush with money and confidence, Terry starts dating Trish, a local waitress, and things get serious in a hurry. Meanwhile, Dean is playing up the part of ‘cancer survivor’, and upon hearing about the glories of Worker’s Compensation, purposely bungs up his leg in an attempt to qualify.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Shortly after it was announced the film would play SXSW, Screen Media Films picked up the North American rights for a VOD/video release on April 19th.

“Girl Walks Into a Bar” (IMDb, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Carla Gugino, Zachary Quinto, Josh Hartnett, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Robert Forster, Aaron Tveit, Alexis Bledel
Director: Sebastian Gutierrez
The Gist: Perhaps the only time it will be shown in theaters, “Women in Trouble” and “Elektra Luxx” director Sebastian Gutierrez returns to SXSW with another all-star cast in tow for this comedy divided into 10 vignettes spread across 10 speakeasys in Los Angeles over the course of a single night involving a dentist plotting his wife’s murder and the wild aftermath that follows. The film will debut the same day as its SXSW premiere on YouTube for all to see.

03072011_TheInnkeepers.jpg“The Innkeepers” (IMDb, Twitter)
The Cast: Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, Kelly McGillis
Director: Ti West
SXSW Description: After over one hundred years of service, The Yankee Pedlar Inn is shutting its doors for good. The last remaining employees – Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy)- are determined to uncover proof of what many believe to be one of New England’s most haunted hotels. As the Inn’s final days draw near, odd guests check in as the pair of minimum wage “ghost hunters” begin to experience strange and alarming events that may ultimately cause them to be mere footnotes in the hotel’s long unexplained history.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Fangoria has the film’s poster. TwitchFilm visited West on the set.

“It’s About You” (IMDb, trailer)
The Cast: John Mellencamp and T Bone Burnett
Director: Kurt Markus and Ian Markus
SXSW Description: This is a personal journey film about singer/songwriter John Mellencamp. It was made during his summer 2009 tour with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson; Mellencamp also recorded his new album in three historical locations during the month and a half tour. The story is told through the eyes of the father/son film making team of Kurt and Ian Markus, neither of whom had ever made a film before. The entire 90-minute film is shot on super8, to stunning effect. This is not a retrospective film with interviews. It is of the moment.

“LBF” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Toby Schmitz, Bianca Chiminello, Gracie Otto, Septimus Caton, April Rose Pengilly, Iren Skaarnes
Director: Alex Munt
SXSW Description: A pop-art film based on the novel ‘Living Between Fucks’ by Cry Bloxsome. Goodchild, a young writer, lands back home, direct from Paris, to attend his ex-girlfriend’s funeral, The Dead Girl. At an afternoon motel party he encounters The Beautiful Financial Backer who works in advertising. At the wake she commissions him to write ‘The Love Enterprise’. The past and present collide as Goodchild slides through a hot Australian summer. Haunted by the twin ghosts of love and death, he is pushed to his very limits. LBF is a modern story of love, loss and desperation.

“The Other F Word” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, movie clips)
The Cast: Jim Lindberg, Flea, Mark Hoppus, Tim McIlrath, Tony Hawk, Lars Fredrikson, Duane Peters, Fat Mike, Art Alexakis, Ron Reyes
Director: Andrea Blaugrund Nevins
SXSW Description: What happens when a generation’s ultimate anti-authoritarians — punk rockers — become society’s ultimate authorities — dads? With a large chorus of Punk Rock’s leading men — Blink 182’s Mark Hoppus, Red Hot Chili Pepper’s Flea, Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath – “The Other F Word follows Jim Lindberg, 20 year veteran of skate punk band, Pennywise, on his hysterical and moving journey from belting out his band’s anthem, “Fuck Authority”, to embracing his ultimately pivotal authoritarian role in mid-life, fatherhood.

“PressPausePlay” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Moby, Hank Shocklee, Seth Godin, Olafur Arnolds, Robyn, Hot Chip, Lena Dunham, Andrew Keen, Zach Hancock, Keith Harris
Director: David Dworsky and Victor Köhler
SXSW Description: The digital revolution of the last decade has unleashed creativity and talent of people in an unprecedented way, unleashing unlimited creative opportunities. But does democratized culture mean better art, film, music and literature or is true talent instead flooded and drowned in the vast digital ocean of mass culture? Is it cultural democracy or mediocrity? This is the question addressed by “PressPausePlay,” a documentary film containing interviews with some of the world’s most influential creators of the digital era.

03072011_SomethingVentured.jpg“Something Ventured” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter)
The Cast: Po Bronson (narrator), Tom Perkins, Arthur Rock, Don Valentine, Dick Kramlich, Nolan Bushnell, Gordon Moore, Jimmy Treybig, Herbert Boyer, Mike Markkula
Director: Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine
SXSW Description: Apple. Intel. Genentech. Atari. Cisco. Behind these revolutionary technology companies are a handful of men who saw opportunity where others did not: these are the original venture capitalists. All were backing and building companies before the term ‘venture capital’ had been coined: companies that led to the birth of biotechnology, microprocessors, personal computers and the internet. “Something Ventured” uncovers the dramatic ups and downs of how these companies came to be, and the hidden dramas behind some of the most famous names in business.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Zeitgeist Films snapped up the film’s distribution rights in late February, presumably for release later this year.

“Square Grouper: The Godfathers of Ganja” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
Director: Billy Corben (“Cocaine Cowboys”)
SXSW Description: In 1979, the US Customs Service reported that 87% of all domestic marijuana seizures were made in the South Florida area. Due to the region’s 5,000 miles of coast and coastal waterways and close proximity to the Caribbean and Latin America, South Florida was a pot smuggler’s paradise. In sharp contrast to the brazenly violent cocaine cowboys, Miami’s marijuana smugglers were cooler, calmer, and for the most part, nonviolent. “Square Grouper” paints a vivid portrait of Miami’s pot smuggling culture in the 1970s and 1980s through three of the city’s most colorful stories.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Magnolia bought the doc with plans for a 40-city college tour following SXSW.

“Undefeated” (official site)
Director: Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin
SXSW Description: Set against the backdrop of a football season, “Undefeated” is a coming-of-age vérité documentary centering on three underprivileged student-athletes from inner-city Memphis and an unexpected volunteer coach who struggles to provide them with the discipline, resources and inspiration they’ll need to not only overcome their bleak surroundings, but also to win the first playoff game in the high school’s 110-year history.

“Yelling to the Sky” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, Twitter, trailer)
The Cast: Zoe Kravitz, Jason Clarke, Antonique Smith, Gabourey Sidibe, Tim Blake Nelson
Director: Victoria Mahoney
Fest Cred: Berlinale
SXSW Description: As her family falls apart, seventeen year old Sweetness O’Hara’s future feels uncertain. At the abusive hands of her father, her mother and sister take off, leaving Sweetness to fend for herself. Determined to correct the mistakes of the past, Sweetness takes control of her life.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: David Hudson rounds up reviews out of Berlinale (under the second photo).

“You Instead” (IMDb, Facebook, Twitter)
The Cast: Luke Treadaway, Natalia Tena, Sophie Wu, Ruta Gedmintas, Kari Corbett
Director: David Mackenzie (“Young Adam,” “Spread”)
Fest Cred: Glasgow
SXSW Description: Shot on location at the world famous music festival ‘T in the Park,’ American pop star, Adam, and minor British rock chick, Morello, are playing at the same festival. The only other thing they have in common is their mastery of sarcastic wisecracks. As their childish spat escalates, a mischievous preacher handcuffs them together as punishment, before disappearing in to the crowd with the only key. All attempts to break free are thwarted. Respective band mates and romantic partners are caught in the crossfire but can only look on as Adam and Morello begin to realize there is no escape.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Positive notice from Variety‘s Leslie Felperin out of Berlin.

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Special Events

“Bridesmaids” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper, Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, Matt Lucas, Jill Clayburgh, Rebel Wilson, Michael Hitchcock
Director: Paul Feig
The Gist: Billed as a “work in progress” screening since it doesn’t come out until May, this Judd Apatow-produced comedy was penned by Kristen Wiig (and friend Annie Mumulo) to star in as a maid of honor trying to help her friend (Maya Rudolph) make her way down the aisle while trying to control her wild group of friends and relatives (Rose Byrne, “Reno 911″‘s Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ellie Kemper and Melissa McCarthy). “Freaks and Geeks” co-creator Paul Feig captures the chaos.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Set visits with Vanity Fair, Moviefone and HitFix.

“Red Riding Hood” (IMDb, official site, Facebook, trailer)
The Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas, Julie Christie
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
SXSW Description: For years, the village of Daggerhorn has maintained an uneasy truce with a ferocious werewolf that prowls outside their village. But under a blood red moon, the wolf ups the stakes, taking the life of one of their own. Hungry for revenge, the people call on werewolf hunter Father Solomon to help them kill the beast. But Solomon arrives with a warning: the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As suspicion and panic grips the town, a beautiful young woman discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast–one that makes her both suspect…and bait.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: ComingSoon.net has an interview with Hardwicke. Collider has seven clips from the film.

“The Rime of the Modern Mariner” (official site, trailer)
The Cast: Mark Donne, Carl Barat, Anthony Rossomando
Director: Mark Donne
Fest Cred: East End
SXSW Description: A journey out through the husks of the ancient London Docks, through sea-faring mythology, magic and superstition and back home via North Africa to discover the heart of the Modern Mariner in a globalized world.
Pre-Festival Buzz Bin: Vice has an extensive interview with Donne and Rossomando.

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Leslie Nielsen Naked Gun trilogy

Nielsen Ratings

10 Leslie Nielsen Comedies Ranked From Best to Worst

Catch the Naked Gun movies this month on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Paramount Pictures/courtesy Everett Collection

Leslie Nielsen has had a long and varied career with his comedies being some of the best of all time. But not every film was a winner, with his Rotten Tomatoes scores ranging from 97% to 0%. So, as you enjoy The Naked Gun movies this month on IFC, you can reflect upon the highs and lows of everyone’s favorite straight man.

1. Airplane!

Paramount
Paramount Pictures

Airplane! is one of the best comedies of all time and managed two historic feats: It popularized the film parody genre and introduced the world to the comedy side of Leslie Nielsen. Though Nielsen was already a very successful actor — playing mostly romantic leads, captains and cops — Airplane! was the first example of his stellar deadpan delivery. With a bevy of classic quotes, critics and audiences agreed that this was surely a seminal comedy. But don’t call him Shirley.


2. The Naked Gun: From the Files from the Police Squad!

Based on the underrated freeze-frame filled TV show Police Squad!, Leslie Nielsen honed his performance of Lt. Frank Drebin in The Naked Gun. His most definitive character, the first Naked Gun is just as funny today as it was in 1988. The memorable moments are endless, from “Nice beaver” to Drebin’s enthusiastic appearance as a baseball umpire. Though many more parody films were made, none ever topped this take down of cop dramas. (Click here to see all airings of The Naked Gun on IFC.)


3. The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear

Paramount
Paramount Pictures

Though the sequel doesn’t match the original, it still features tons of the high-level slapstick and absurd dialogue that we came to love from the Leslie Nielsen parody genre. Plus, this one features Robert Goulet as a criminal mastermind, so it certainly gets point for that.


4. The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult

Paramount
Paramount Pictures

Usually, comedy trilogies end on a disappointing note. (Looking at you, Hangover III!). But even though Naked Gun 33 1/3 was critically panned, its mix of crass jokes and “celebrity” cameos helped it to be chosen as one of IFC and Rotten Tomatoes’ movies that are “too rotten to miss.” Fans of the series get great moments of Frank going undercover in jail and ruining a dance routine at the Academy Awards. Most importantly, it has the best sequel title since Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.


5. Wrongfully Accused

Warner Bros
Warner Bros

Airplane! and the Naked Gun series were outliers in the parody genre that got both great reviews from critics and audience acclaim. Now we come to the first of Nielsen’s comedies that didn’t fare so well amongst the critics. Sure, this 1998 spoof from Naked Gun cowriter Pat Proft only got 22% on Rotten Tomatoes, but you can’t help but enjoy some great riffs on the “falsely accused man on the run” genre. Mostly parodying The Fugitive (though there’s a Titanic parody thrown in because, you know, late ’90s), Wrongfully Accused has a great train chase scene and silly, absurd sight gags akin to the Naked Gun series. Plus, Nielsen nails it as always.


6. Dracula: Dead and Loving It

Warner Bros
Warner Bros

Sure, this isn’t Mel Brooks’ greatest film, but it’s still Mel Brooks. Here, Nielsen plays Dracula with Brooks as Van Helsing and the perfectly cast Peter MacNicol as Renfield. This parody veers a little bit more towards puns and Borscht Belt-style punch lines, but Nielsen makes for a pretty great Dracula. Honestly, if Gary Oldman and Leslie Nielsen were pitted against each other in a ’90s Dracula-off, one, that would be amazing and two, our vote would go for Nielsen.


7. Spy Hard

Disney
Disney

Released in 1996 after the Naked Gun films had sputtered out at the box office, Spy Hard is mostly an action movie parody with a bit of James Bond thrown in. (And a catchy theme song from Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader and musical parody genius “Weird Al” Yankovic.) Partially because of the movie’s lack of focus and specificity, the jokes never quite work. Plus, the Hot Shots! movies did action parody better and Austin Powers came along a year later to perfectly send up James Bond. Despite the film’s poor reviews, no one said a bad word about Nielsen. They just wanted better for him.


8. Repossessed

New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema

A lame spoof of The Exorcist, Repossessed has a rare honor of a 0% Rotten Tomatoes rating. (That’s right, Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill fared better than this thrown-together parody.) Linda Blair gets possessed by the devil again and seeks out Nielsen’s Father Mayii to exorcise her. There’s not much to say about this other than it was made 17 years after The Exorcist came out and no one was clamoring for more gags about Linda Blair’s pea soup vomit. While an abysmal movie by every definition, there are a few chuckles here and there for Nielsen completists.


9. Mr. Magoo

Mr Magoo
Walt Disney Productions

With a whopping 4% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the 1997 big screen adaptation of the cartoon character of the same name was offensive to both the blind and Nielsen fans alike. Basically 87 minutes of tasteless jokes at the expense of sightless people and the elderly, Mr. Magoo is a low point even by the standards of the ’90s trend of big screen versions of forgettable TV shows. (It makes McHale’s Navy look like a comedic masterpiece.)


10. An American Carol

Vivendi
Vivendi

Though Mr. Magoo and Repossessed technically have lower Rotten Tomatoes ratings than An American Carol (which comes in at 11%), this political-themed “parody” from Airplane! and Naked Gun director David Zucker is offensive garbage, which kicks it to the bottom of the list. The story, so to speak, is about Michael Malone (a Michael Moore proxy), a filmmaker who hates America and wants to cancel the 4th of July. Eventually he’s visited by ghosts and is asked to make movies for terrorists. While a parody of Michael Moore could be great, this film sadly paints every liberal like a moronic, terrorist-loving hippy and indulges in other base stereotypes. Luckily for Nielsen, his part is small. Unluckily for us, he plays a dual role of Grandpa and Osama Bin Nielsen. Yes, Osama Bin Nielsen. Sadly, An American Carol was one of a number of subpar parodies Nielsen popped up in towards the end of his career.

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Bill and Ted Bogus Journey Wyld Stallyns

We Salute You

11 Movie Bands That Rocked

Rock out with the Bill & Ted movies this week during IFC's Rotten Fridays.

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It is the rare film that succeeds in creating a fictional band that taps into our primordial need to bop our heads and for a brief moment in the theater, live out our teenage rock n’ roll dreams of groupie chasing, hotel room trashing and agent firing. In honor of those Wyld Stallyns Bill & Ted kicking out the jams during IFC’s Rotten Fridays, check out some fictional bands who rock hard enough to earn being on a list that — like Spinal Tap once said — goes to 11.

11. The Lone Rangers, Airheads

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

The former high school burnouts/metal heads/wannabe rock stars who take over the radio station in Airheads definitely have the proper reverence for the metal god that was Motorhead frontman Lemmy. In fact, Lemmy actually has a hilarious cameo as part of the crowd of metal fans waiting to see the Lone Rangers play. Brendan Fraser had more than his share of goofy performances in the ’90s, but he looked the part as the Lone Rangers frontman, which also consists of Steve Buscemi on bass and Adam Sandler on drums. You have to like any movie that casts Joe Mantegna as a Dr. Johnny Fever-type DJ who delivers the prophetic line about rock that, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old.”


10. Steel Dragon, Rock Star

Based on the true story of Tim “Ripper” Owens, a singer in a Judas Priest tribute band who went on to replace Priest frontman Rob Halford, Rock Star tells the epic tale of a fan of fictional ’80s metal band Steel Dragon who gets a shot at playing with his idols. In a memorable scene, Mark Walhberg’s Chris Cole auditions for the Steel Dragon members, including founder and guitarist Kirk Cuddy (Dominic West). Cole rocks out the Steel Dragon tune “We All Die Young,” a song written and performed by real life metal band Steelheart.


9. Aldous Snow and Infant Sorrow, Get Him to The Greek

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

Despite being fictional, Aldous Snow (Russell Brand) is the quintessential British rocker. He’s got loads of charisma, and an impulsive personality mixed with an inclination for heroin, awkward threesomes and putting his record company rep (Jonah Hill) in uncomfortable positions (like sitting in an airplane with heroin stuffed up a body cavity). Brand was the perfect choice to make Aldous Snow a pompous rock star who performs songs like “Bangers, Beans & Mash,” “The Clap” and of course “Furry Walls.” Brand stole all his scenes in Forgetting Sarah Marshall and this spinoff film tells Snow’s rock star story as Jonah Hill’s Aaron Green has to get him to The Greek theater to perform. In the end, both Aldous and Aaron learn the important life lesson that “when the world slips you a Jeffrey, stroke the furry walls.”


8. Citizen Dick, Singles

Singles didn’t just try to reflect the Seattle grunge rock scene of the ’90s — it was at the forefront of a new rock explosion that was taking hold with music fans ready to embrace bands that rocked without hair spray. Several of the biggest Seattle bands of the time were not only on the soundtrack but appeared in the movie, including Soundgarden, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam. The plot of Singles revolves around a group of Seattle twentysomethings experiencing life and love in flannel shirts, all while being lucky enough to go out to shows in a city where Alice in Chains just happens to be playing their local bar. Sure, Citizen Dick frontman Cliff Poncier (Matt Dillon) might have been too wrapped up in his music to say “Bless You” when his girlfriend Janet (Bridget Fonda) sneezed, and he might have earned less stellar reviews than his bandmates (including drummer Eddie Vedder), but he did lead the group to huge acclaim in Belgium.


7. Cassandra and Crucial Taunt, Wayne’s World

“And her name was Cassandra,” sang the smitten Wayne Campbell (Mike Myers). There’s good reason that Wayne heard the song “Dream Weaver” the moment he saw Tia Carrere bring out her inner Joan Jett onstage as Cassandra Wong. She was not only a “fox” but she wailed as the lead singer and guitarist for Crucial Taunt. Sure, Crucial Taunt may not have the bizarre historical knowledge of Milwaukee that Alice Cooper displayed but they certainly rock harder than The Jolly Green Giants and “The Sh—y Beatles.” There may be have been two Darren Stevenes on the show Bewitched but there was only one Cassandra to rock Wayne’s world.


6. Wyld Stallyns, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

The Wyld Stallyns are Bill S. Preston Esquire and Ted “Theodore” Logan and if you read this in the year 2668, you would totally know both dudes since the music that Bill and Ted created became the foundation for a world that lives in peace and harmony. In Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the duo, played by Alex Winter and someone named Keanu Reeves, travel in a phone booth time machine to retrieve historical figures (and some princess babes) who they bring back to San Dimas to help them with their rockin’ history presentation. By the end of the sequel, Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, the dimwitted boys can finally play their instruments, and are joined by Death, Rufus (George Carlin), some aliens and their robot doppelgangers for an epic concert performance.


5. School of Rock, School of Rock band

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

The kids are more than alright in the musical comedy School of Rock — in fact, it’s their teacher who’s a mess. Jack Black is at his animated best as Dewey Finn, a failing rocker who pretends to be his roommate in order to take a substitute teaching job. Under the initially misguided tutelage of Black’s substitute teacher, the class of private school fourth graders come together to form a kickass rock band that embraces breaking the rules and learns to “get mad at the man.” They also piss off their uptight principal, played hilariously by Joan Cusack, who lets her inner Stevie Nicks loose in a classic scene. Of course the School of Rock band wins over the crowd at the Battle of the Bands, with an amazing lead guitarist, a tight group of backup singers and a sufficiently snarky manager.


4. Sex Bob-omb, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Universal Studios
Universal Studios

“We are Sex Bob-omb. 1,2,3,4!” Sure Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) plays a mean bass and is dorky cool (for a Canadian) and Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) is the front man with “the talent,” but even Sex Bob-Omb’s two hardcore fans know that the ferociously angry drumming of Kim Pine (Alison Pill) is what gives the band its punk/garage rock edge. Most of their shows are interrupted by fights, except it’s not the music that instigates the aggression. As Scott shows off his video game martial arts skills to battle Ramona Flowers’ (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) seven evil exes, the band continues to play hard and fast on songs that “make you think about death and get sad and stuff.”


3. Stillwater, Almost Famous

Stillwater runs deep and so does director Cameron Crowe’s love for music. Almost Famous is Crowe’s love letter to his experience as a young rock journalist in the 1970s. Watching the film through the eyes of William Miller (Patrick Fugit) will make anyone wish they could have toured with the likes of Led Zeppelin and The Allman Brothers Band. The actors portraying the fictional ’70s hard rock band Stillwater don’t just look the part — Crowe made sure they could play together as a band before filming. 1970s guitar superstar Peter Frampton served as a technical consultant and Crowe’s wife at the time, Nancy Wilson of Heart, co-wrote some of Stillwater’s songs. “Fever Dog” has an authentic classic rock sound and all the songs in the movie will take you back to a time of bellbottoms, vinyl records and groupies loving a band so much “it hurts.”


2. Tenacious D, Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny

The comedy/guitar rock duo of Jack Black and Kyle Gass get their feature film debut in Tenacious D and the Pick of Destiny as their epic story is told in the form of a rock opera with songs that will make you bang your head and laugh your ass off. JB and KG have always paid homage to the gods of metal in their songs and sketches and their love of all things thrash is in full display in the song that tells the origin of KG’s path to rock greatness. Not only does Meatloaf play JB’s Bible-thumping father but legendary Black Sabbath front man Ronnie James Dio emerges from a poster on the wall to send him on his journey to Hollywood. JB and KG team up to form “The D” and embark on their quest to pay the rent and defeat the Devil himself (Dave Grohl) in the rock-off of all rock-offs. (Catch Tenacious D at the 2016 Festival Supreme on October 29th in Los Angeles.)


1. Spinal Tap, This is Spinal Tap

MGM
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Embassy Pictures, StudioCanal, MGM Home Entertainment

If there was a heavy metal Mt. Rushmore, Spinal Tap would clearly be on it. (Or at the very least, they would have a tiny 18-inch version of it next to the real thing.) David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) need no introduction to hardcore rock and comedy fans. The groundbreaking mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap follows the fictional veteran rockers as they promote a new tour, discuss amps that “go to 11” and get lost inside of a concert venue. Spinal Tap’s performances are so loud that their drummers tend to explode although it may not be related to drumming, as “dozens of people combust each year. It’s just not that widely reported.”

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Religuous Bill Maher

Politics Now!

10 Hilarious Political Documentaries You Need to See

Documentary Now! gets political with "The Bunker" premiering September 14th at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: ©Lionsgate/Courtesy Everett Collection

Who says political documentaries can’t be hilarious? The best political docs — like The War Room, the 1993 depiction of the Clinton presidential campaign that Documentary Now! pays homage to with “The Bunker” — have plenty in them to make you laugh. Here are 10 political documentaries that will elicit more than just bitter laughter.

1. The Yes Men

Activist duo Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos are responsible for not just one, but three funny and scathing political documentaries: The Yes Men (2003), The Yes Men Fix the World (2009) and The Yes Men are Revolting (2014). The pair impersonate bad guys from the worlds of business and government, and often end up fooling the media. They also stage elaborate pranks like having dozens of people don inflatable ball outfits called SurvivaBalls to help survive catastrophes resulting from climate change. Along the way they’ve racked up numerous awards and almost as many arrests.


2. Weiner

“Hilarious…like a Spinal Tap of politics,” said the New York Post about the doc Weiner, of course adding, “…it’s the full package.” This doc follows the disgraced Congressman, who had to resign due to a sexting scandal, in his quest for a comeback, running for Mayor of New York City. Incredibly, yet another sexting scandal explodes during the course of filming. You’ll laugh, you’ll cringe, as the whole sordid story unfolds before the cameras, featuring Weiner and his wife, longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin. It’s the film that puts the (Carlos) “danger” back in politics.


3. Please Vote for Me

Politics on a scale much smaller but just as riveting are on display in this 2007 documentary. A third grade class in China is given the task of holding an election for class monitor. The resulting web of intrigue, dirty tricks and bare-knuckle politics among this group of 8-year-olds are reminiscent of something Karl Rove or Lee Atwater would come up with. And the parents are worse. A fascinating look at the roots of democracy, with a touch of Lord of the Flies.


4. Roger & Me

Filmmaker Michael Moore could have any one of a number of his movies in this list (his is the first name most people think of when the subject of funny political docs comes up). But his first doc, Roger & Me, remains one of his funniest and — with its focus on the economic impact of globalization on American workers — still remains one of his timeliest. The film centers around Moore’s attempts to confront then CEO of General Motors Roger B. Smith. Moments from the film including scenes with former game show host Bob Eubanks and another with a luckless rabbit have become iconic.


5. Bronx Obama

The first feature-length documentary from filmmaker Ryan Murdock, Bronx Obama follows the story of Louis Ortiz, a lifelong resident of the South Bronx. Unemployed and with a young daughter, Ortiz is told by a friend in 2007 that he looks like a rising young politician. Before long, he’s making a living as a Barack Obama impersonator. The award-winning doc shows many hilarious moments intentional and otherwise as Ortiz comes to grips with his new life over the course of three years during Obama’s first term and deals with an unscrupulous manager.


6. Religulous

Bill Maher brings his scathing satire of organized religion to his 2008 documentary Religulous. In the course of the film he travels to The Wailing Wall, The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City and The Vatican, among other places. But some of the best scenes are in cheesy locales like The Creation Museum and a Christian theme park in Orlando called Holy Land Experience. He even finds a Muslim gay bar in Amsterdam. Maher is merciless in his mockery of the main Western religions, but even if you disagree with his viewpoints, his comedy is always spot on.


7. Al Franken: God Spoke

From the makers of The War Room, this doc shows the evolution of Al Franken from comedian to political pundit during the first term of George W. Bush. We see Franken touring in promotion of his book Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, broadcasting at Air America Radio and touring with the USO in Iraq. The most memorable encounters in the film are clashes with right-wing pundits like Bill O’Reilly, Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity. It’s a funny look at a man on a journey from SNL to the US Senate.


8. Journeys with George

In the year 2000, Alexandra Pelosi (daughter of Nancy Pelosi) was covering the presidential campaign of then-Texas Governor George W. Bush for NBC. For 18 months, she also used a handheld camcorder to record Journeys with George. The result is a remarkably warm and funny portrait of a somewhat goofball politician. Pelosi went on to become a filmmaker. Bush went on to bigger things as well. From the vantage point of 16 years later, the big takeaway from Journeys with George is that George W. Bush seemed a lot funnier before we had eight years of him as president.


9. Mitt

You may have suspected that George W. Bush could make a goofily entertaining subject for a documentary. What you never suspected was that Mitt Romney could ever be anything other than stiff and robotic. For the film Mitt, documentarian Greg Whiteley was given unprecedented access to Romney in his runs for president in both 2008 and 2012. What emerges is a surprisingly human portrait of Romney and his family. There’s an amazing scene in the hotel on the night Mitt lost to Barack Obama revealing that he never even contemplated the possible need for a concession speech.


10. Sarah Palin: You Betcha!

No list of things both political and funny can avoid having at least one entry about Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin: You Betcha! is from noted British documentarian Nick Broomfield (Kurt & Courtney) and should not be confused with the fawning Palin doc The Undefeated. In 2011, after she had become a conservative icon, Broomfield went to Alaska and documented his attempts at getting an interview with Palin in a Roger & Me-esque pursuit. In interviews with Palin family, friends, fans and foes, Broomfield manages to make the self-described “mama grizzly” seem both dangerous and ridiculous, both of which are undoubtedly true.

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