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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]


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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.

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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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Play along with movie trivia during "Scarface" tonight at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Tony Montana is all about money, power and respect. And while we can’t promise you’ll get money or power by taking our Scarface quiz below, you will get respect if you get a perfect score. One out of three ain’t bad. Click below to take the quiz, and catch Scarface this month on IFC.

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This week we're laughing at Hank's Tufts commencement speech, Jason Alexander's shark facts and more.

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Photo Credit: YouTube/Tufts University

We’ve made it! Memorial Day weekend! But before we can complain that it’s over too quickly, take a moment to bask in the pre-break lack of productivity and enjoy some lighthearted videos.

From Hank Azaria channeling Chief Wiggum and other Simpsons characters while talking to college grads to “Shark-spert” Jason Alexander sharing questionable shark facts, here are five funny things from this week you need to watch.

1. Kermit Informs Fozzie Bear That They’ve Been Canceled

It’s never easy to see someone receive bad news, much less a Muppet. But if anything, Kermit’s poise and acceptance during a time of crisis is impressive, admirable even. Fozzie Bear, on the other hand, reacts with greater similarity to how we would: with baseless anger and utter despair.


2. Jason Alexander Offers Shark “Fin Facts”

Memorial Day weekend means the start of beach season, aka Shark Feeding Season. As part of IFC’s Shark Half-A-Day Memorial Day marathon, “sharks-pert” Jason Alexander offers up some interesting “fin facts” about our sharp-toothed friends from the deep. You can also check out Jason’s beach tips, and catch the Jaws movies with more “fin facts” from Jason this Memorial Day on IFC.


3. Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke Confirms Dothraki Is a Real Language

With eyes still dewy from the climax of this past Sunday’s Game of Thrones (Hold the door!), the Mother of Dragons herself Emilia Clarke dropped by Late Night with Seth Meyers to throw the diehard fans a reason to smile: Yes, Dothraki is a real language. Watch Clarke discuss the phonetics and grammar involved with vying for Westeros rule.


4. Hank Azaria Gives Advice Through Simpsons Characters

Hank Azaria — star of The Simpsons, The Birdcage, and Brockmire, premiering in 2017 on IFC — gave the commencement speech at his alma mater Tufts University. In the hilarious speech, Azaria discusses how he got through college, recounts his early career struggles, and offers up life advice via fan favorite Simpsons characters like Chief Wiggum and Comic Book Guy.


5. X-Men: The Animated Series Gets Honest

Screen Junkies are back this week with another round of Honest Trailers. This entry focuses on the cartoon mutants that comprise X-Men: The Animated Series — an ultra-’90s Marvel property that predates the comic book adaptation boom of the 21st Century. But looking back at the decade of Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane, this video finds much to mock.

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Weird Al comes to Comedy Bang! Bang! starting June 3rd at 11P on IFC.

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With a career spanning five decades, “Weird Al” Yankovic has defined the song parody genre and become a beloved pop culture icon. Starting June 3rd, you’ll be able to catch him as the brand new Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader Fridays at 11P on IFC.

We recently chatted with Al about joining Scott Aukerman on the new season, his upcoming tour, favorite CB!B! characters and his future dream projects. (Hint: it might involve actors spontaneously breaking into song.)

The Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader gig seems like a natural fit for you. Did it take any time to get acclimated?

Weird Al: Yeah. It’s a slightly different skill set. The accordion is my main act, but I don’t use it on the show at all. It’s a keyboard setup. The actual setup is a little bit of a combination of what Reggie [Watts] had and [Kid] Cudi had. And a few extra things thrown in. So I’m trying to do my own version of what they brought to the show.

You’ve been on the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast and the show many times. Do you have a favorite CB!B! character?

Weird Al: I’d probably have to say Doctor Time. Every time Scott wants me to do an evil character, he’s always got a bad English accent. [Laughs] Any time my character goes evil, he becomes sort of British.

Any favorite guests you’ve worked with?

Weird Al: Gosh, I love them all. Paul F. Tompkins is always fun. His Andrew Lloyd Webber character, Cake Boss, everything he does. And Andy Daly as well. They’re so versatile and so amazing at improv. That’s the one thing I was a little nervous about because I’ve never been super confident with my improv skills. But Comedy Bang! Bang!, particularly the TV version, is good for that because it’s all heavily edited. So it kind of gives me permission to try out whatever comes to my mind, so if it really sucks, they’re not gonna use it. [Laughs]

Scott Aukerman Weird Al

Your upcoming tour is a continuation of your Mandatory Fun tour from last year. Any new elements to the show?

Weird Al: Well, it is the same tour, so it’s not that much different. I might freshen some video a little bit. I’m hoping to use a bit or two from the current season of Comedy Bang! Bang! and slip that into the show somewhere.

The tour starts June 3rd in St. Petersburg, Florida and ends September 24th at Radio City Music Hall. How do you keep up the pace? 

Weird Al: It’s just a mindset. I’m really only working for two hours a day, so I basically just save up my energy for the show. I relax, surf online, watch satellite TV, read a book, rest my voice, and then give it all I got when I’m onstage.

Looking back at your vast song catalog, was there ever a parody that came to you immediately upon hearing the song?

Weird Al: Yeah, that’s happened a few times. More often than not, I have to think about it and analytically work out all the variations on a theme that I can and pick out the one with the most potential. But there’s been a few times where the idea came to me spontaneously. I think the first time I saw Michael Jackson’s “Bad” video, before it was even over, I thought, “Oh! I gotta do ‘Fat’! Super-plus-sized actors trying to get through a turnstile on a subway! I gotta do that!”

Do you have a favorite of your many hilarious videos?

Weird Al: Oh boy, it’s hard to say. “White and Nerdy” has been my biggest hit and that was a really fun video to do. But in terms of making a video, “Tacky” was really fun to do because it was so easy and I got to work with amazing people like Jack Black, Margaret Cho, Kristen Schaal, Eric Stonestreet, and Aisha Tyler. And we knocked it out in a couple of hours. We were having so much fun while making it, I kinda wish we weren’t so efficient and professional. [Laughs] I could’ve done that all night.

Was it filmed all in one take or was it stitched together?

Weird Al: That was all one take. Some people say, “Oh, I see where the edit is,” but it was all one shot. We did a total of six takes, and I think four of those takes were usable, but the last one was the best.

And you were directing while performing?

Weird Al: I directed that one, yeah. We location scouted and found a building in downtown LA that I thought was good for the shoot. I’ve since seen that building in a lot of other movies and TV shows — I think it was used in The Big Lebowski and a few others. It was difficult because I start the video in one set of clothes and I also end the video in a completely different set of clothes. So while the cameras were off me, because there’s only one elevator in the building, I had to run down five flights of stairs, quickly change my clothes, and hit my mark for the end. And after the take, we’d all just watch what we did, and say, “OK, let’s do it again.”

Is there a director you’d love to work with in the future?

Weird Al: Oh gosh, yeah, but I mean, music videos are notoriously low-budget so that’s why I end up directing them myself. [Laughs] But I’d love to be in a movie codirected by Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino.

Do you have a particular genre of music that you love parodying the most? Or is it more of the moment and different for each song?

Weird Al: It doesn’t necessarily revolve around personal taste so much. It really depends more on the song than the genre. But I found rap songs tend to lend themselves to parody, mostly because there’s a lot of words to play with. A lot of pop songs are repetitive, and that’s sometimes been an issue. With rap, there’s no shortage of syllables to mess around with.

Given that you’ve been so prolific and done so much, is there any type of art left that you’d like to dip your toe in? Dramatic acting, perhaps?

Weird Al: Well, if Spielberg and Tarantino want me for their film, I wouldn’t want to turn them down. But there’s no burning desire to do drama. I love doing comedy and feel comfortable doing that. Writing a musical might be something I do down the line. I don’t know when but I might take a shot at something in that area. Other than that, I’ve done pretty much all I wanted to do in my life so far. A lot of it not successfully. [Laughs] But I took a stab at it and feel gratified by that.

You’ve had such a eclectic career in music and comedy. What do you attribute your longevity to?

Weird Al: [Laughs] I don’t know what I’d attribute the longevity to. There’s a modicum of talent, but it’s mostly because I surround myself with very talented people. I’ve got a great support group, I’ve got the same band since the early ’80s, and I’ve worked with the same people for decades. And I got a very loyal fan base and I love what I do. And somehow I’ve been very lucky and it’s worked out so far.

Watch “Weird Al” in an episode from the new season of Comedy Bang! Bang! right now, before the season premiere on Friday June 3rd at 11P.

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