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“Taxi Driver” is Indeed Talkin’ to You and More New DVDs

“Taxi Driver” is Indeed Talkin’ to You and More New DVDs (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD and Blu-ray today:

“Taxi Driver” (1976)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

One can read about the extensive restoration of what many consider to be Martin Scorsese’s finest film at The Digital Bits, but if you’re a film fan, you might not need convincing to pick up the latest edition of the film about the disillusioned cabbie, which includes all the special features from the previous DVDs of the film (a feature-length making of doc, a score of shorter featurettes) while adding the commentary track between Scorsese and writer Paul Schrader that originally appeared on the 1986 Criterion laser disc. All in all, it’s the definitive edition that the film deserves.

“Casino Jack” (2010)
Directed by George Hickenlooper
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

Even at the height of his powers, disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff might not have been able to maneuver his way through all the pre-release craziness that plagued Hickenlooper’s dramedy about Abramoff’s rise and fall as a political power player, beginning with the “Factory Girl” director’s tussle over the film’s title with documentarian Alex Gibney and then ultimately the director’s untimely death before it made it into theaters. However, Hickenlooper’s final film sees Kevin Spacey in his element, wheeling and dealing with partner-in-crime Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper) to swindle from Indian gaming interests to win favor with politicians like Tom DeLay (Spencer Garrett). (Matt Singer’s review is here.)

“The Heroes of Telemark” (1965)
Directed by Anthony Mann
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

It’s been a long wait for this Anthony Mann World War II drama, but for fans of the Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris, it should be well worth it as the two stars go head-to-head leading the Norwegian resistance to destroy a water plant the Nazis have commandeered to aid their efforts to create a nuclear bomb.

“Little Fockers” (2010)
Directed by Paul Weitz
Released by Universal Home Video

If you were to go by the advertising for the third installment of the Robert DeNiro-Ben Stiller family comedy, you’d believe the central plot would involve a staring contest, but alas, it concerns Greg Focker (Stiller) once again proving his worth to his father-in-law when he starts selling pharmaceutical drugs to compliment his salary as a male nurse to support his growing family and a series of complications result from when Jack (DeNiro) doesn’t believe him. Barbara Streisand, Owen Wilson, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner and Dustin Hoffman are all back, in addition to newcomers Laura Dern, Harvey Keitel and Jessica Alba.

“I Love You Phillip Morris” (2009)
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Released by Lionsgate

As Jim Carrey told Matt Singer at Sundance ’08, the directorial debut of “Bad Santa” scribes Ficarra and Requa is just about “a guy who needs love and goes to any lengths to get it.” For a script he rated as high as “The Truman Show” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Carrey went to great lengths to get the role of Steven Jay Russell, a police officer-turned-con artist who leaves his wife (Leslie Mann) in Texas to live an openly gay lifestyle in Miami, only to find his true love (Ewan McGregor) in prison when one of his schemes goes awry.

“The Mountain” (1956)
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Released by Olive Films

Spencer Tracy stars with Robert Wagner in this drama about brothers who must scale a treacherous peak to reach the survivors of a plane crash, but although Tracy’s motivations are purely altruistic, Wagner is after the monetary remains of the dead.

“The Night of the Generals” (1967)
Directed by Anatole Litvak
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

A Sam Spiegel production, his “Lawrence of Arabia” stars Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif lead the cast of this World War II-set thriller about three German generals (O’Toole, Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray) who are the suspects in an investigation into the death of a Warsaw prostitute.

“The Taqwacores” (2010)
Directed by Eyad Zahra
Released by Strand Releasing

Michael Muhammad Knight’s novel about the Islamic punk rock scene serves as the basis for Zahra’s feature debut about a Pakistani college student (Dominic Rains) who falls in with a group of Koran-reading punk rockers in Buffalo.

“Tron”/”Tron: Legacy” (1982/2010)
Directed by Steven Lisberger/Joseph Kosinski
Released by Disney Home Entertainment

Ah, remember those terrible days of December 2010 shortly before “Tron: Legacy” opened when the DVD of the 1982 original was going for more than $100 on the open market since it had been long out of print? Well, of course, only four months later, it is being released once more separately or in a five-disc package with its sequel, which tell the story of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) in the original and his son (Garrett Hedlund), both hackers who are drawn into the computer world and have to win a series of games to escape. Besides seeing those pretty lightcycles once more, the main attraction on the “Legacy” disc is the inclusion of a short epilogue called “The Next Day,” featuring original “Tron” star David Warner that acts as a bridge to a follow-up film, should there ever be one. (Evan Narcisse’s review of “Tron: Legacy” is here.)

New to Blu-ray: “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence”, “Benny & Joon”, “Jawbreaker”, “Lars and the Real Girl”, “Much Ado About Nothing”, “Mystic Pizza”, “The People Vs. Larry Flynt”, “Peter Pan”

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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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