Tribeca 2011: “Saint,” Reviewed

Tribeca 2011: “Saint,” Reviewed (photo)

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If Santa Claus ever wanted to sue the movie business for slander, he’s starting to have a case. As if the kind interpretations of the North Pole denizen such as Tim Allen’s “The Santa Clause” series or that terrible 1985 film starring John Lithgow weren’t bad enough, he’s had to deal in recent years with the Icelandic Finnish “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale,” which imagined Santa as a psychotic child abuser, and now Dick Maas’ “Saint,” which suggests the Dutch holiday of Sinterklass is all a big ruse so that Saint Nicholas, a renegade bishop, can return from the dead to seek vengeance in the village where he met his demise in 1492.

The St. Nick in “Saint” doesn’t pretend to like children – he carries around a golden sceptre with a scorpion-like ornamentation on the tip to decapitate them, should he see fit. But since this is R-rated fun, he doesn’t bother with the little ones, instead tormenting a group of college students in the present day as part of his tradition every 32 years to come out during the full moon. He did, however, traumatize one young boy named Goert, a child who was asked to check on the family’s pigs one Sinterklass while inside his parents are slaughtered back in 1968 and now when a rash of killings begins to take place around the holidays, the grown Goert, who has an itchy trigger finger around gifts, is asked to lead the investigation.

“Saint” doesn’t develop much further beyond your average slasher film from there, although the kills are inventive enough and it remains fascinating to see what Europeans have been doing with studio-level special effects to enhance their set-pieces, which take the film into the realm of the spectacular. One sequence in particular – a thrilling police chase where the cops try to shoot down St. Nick as he gallops on his white steed across the rooftops of Amsterdam – seems as though it came out of Timur Bekmambetov’s bag of tricks, but feels fresh with the energy it brings to what at first feels like a smaller-scale film.

When you add in the relatively serious tone Maas brings to an otherwise ridiculous enterprise much like Bekmambetov or Tommy Wirkola (the Norwegian director of “Dead Snow”) – both of whom are now making Hollywood productions – it feels like a potential calling card for future gigs, especially since the film is constantly jumping from one genre to another, starting out as a horror film and ending up as a siege thriller when its protagonists end up on a boat lying in wait for St. Nick. That may not have been the intention since Maas has been making films in the Netherlands since the ’80s, yet just as the film is constantly reinventing itself, perhaps Maas is as well.

Regardless, “Saint” feels like the work of a younger director, with all the messiness that comes with it, but also the sharp edge. Of course, that’s a good thing if you’re in the mood for a St. Nicholas that’s more likely to leave corpses under the tree than gifts.

“Saint” was picked up for U.S. distribution by IFC Midnight and will play the Tribeca Film Festival once more on April 27th.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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