DID YOU READ

Tribeca 2011: “Stuck Between Stations,” Reviewed

Tribeca 2011: “Stuck Between Stations,” Reviewed (photo)

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As someone that only watches films rather than make them, my favorite thing about the RED camera, the digital camera that has democratized high quality imagery amongst low budget filmmakers, is the clarity not only of the imagery, but the specificity it allows for regional writer/directors to bring out the best in their hometown. In recent years, we’ve seen Portland as it’s never been shot before by Aaron Katz and crew in “Cold Weather,” the Joe Maggio-directed Tribeca selection “The Last Rites of Joe May” captures Chicago in a different light and then there’s “Stuck Between Stations,” the feature debut of Brady Kiernan, a Minneapolis native who, with cinematographer Bo Hakala, creates a portrait of the city that wouldn’t seem out of place if it were framed in the Walker Art Center.

Ultimately, that’s what separates Kiernan’s film from the so many others that have been born in the wake of “Before Sunrise,” the platonic yet romantic drama that launched a thousand walk-and-talk independent films that make up for limited budgets with lots of profound (or so the filmmakers would think) statements about life. If reading that alone makes you instantly recoil, you may want to stop reading now, though it was to my great surprise while watching “Stuck Between Stations” that there is still a place for them when they have strong performers at their center and an interesting place to stroll.

04232011_StuckBetweenStations2.jpgWith the streets, biking trails and bridges of Minneapolis at their disposal, Becky (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Casper (Sam Rosen) spend an evening together after running into each other at a local bar, a first since the two went to high school together, though they actually didn’t have much contact except for occasional random pairing in class. In fact, Becky doesn’t recognize Casper immediately as he’s describing her to a friend on his cell phone as she was once an unattainable dream girl and still is, to some degree, when she stands before him after hearing her name. As it turns out for Becky, Casper is a perfect companion for a night since he’s familiar enough to feel comfortable around, particularly if he still feels slightly inferior, and yet won’t be dismayed by her recent dalliance with a professor (Michael Imperioli) that’s at the forefront of her mind, particularly since she needs to retrieve a computer from the prof’s house, which is being guarded like a hawk by his wife (Nadja Dajani).

The two share war stories both literal and figurative since Casper’s on leave from a tour in Afghanistan since his father died and grant themselves the diversions of basketball with an aluminum can, makeshift parties with circus performers and trips to psychedelic public access shows on the way to discovering that their shared pain over the years and joy over this evening has resulted in bringing them closer together than they ever were in the 3rd grade. The script, written by Rosen and Nat Bennett, is chock with enough wonderfully playful exchanges to keep the film humming even when it veers towards the grim conventions of the genre such as when exactly each of the pair will launch into a monologue about their self-destructive behavior or ultimately when or if they’ll share a kiss, and there’s a palpable chemistry between Lister-Jones and Rosen that makes such a transient bond feel possible and full of possibilities.

Still, it’s the way Kiernan develops the film’s third character of Minneapolis that resounded most, a place not known to be all that romantic but is shot with such specificity, whether it’s during a 3 a.m. midnight supermarket run or a bike ride (with a perfectly pitched cameo from locally-bred Josh Hartnett as a frenemy of Casper’s) on unpaved territory, that a love for the area and its characters floods off the screen. In that sense, “Stuck Between Stations” has a very homemade feel in the best way possible, even if neither Casper or Becky can ever truly go home again.

“Stuck Between Stations” does not yet have U.S. distribution, but will play the Tribeca Film Festival on April 24th, 25th and 28th.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
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Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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