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Three Must-See Movies at the 2011 New York Asian Film Festival

Three Must-See Movies at the 2011 New York Asian Film Festival (photo)

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Get ready New Yorkers: the 2011 New York Asian Film Festival, two weeks of amazing (and sometimes amazingly weird) cinema, starts today at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater. This year’s lineup is massive, so here are a few recommendations to get you started. There are lots of other good films at the fest, but you absolutely cannot miss these three.

“Sell Out!”
Directed by Yeo Joon Han, 2008

If “Dr. Strangelove” and “Office Space” had a baby, and then that baby was raised in a karaoke bar, it might look something like “Sell Out!” a hilarious, demented, and wildly creative comic musical from Malaysia. The film opens with TV host Rafflesia Pong (Jerrica Lai) interviewing a totally nude man named “Yeo Joon Han” — a.k.a. the director of the movie we’re watching — in honor of his being named the Kryzhindangzhongbushaus Village Far Easter Film Festival’s Young Oversea-Chinese Women New Director’s Honorary Mention Award in the category of Films Suitable for Audiences Age 70 and Above. After pretentious Asian art films get brutally and brilliantly parodied (“Why are your movies so slow?” “…”), “Sell Out!” moves on to skewer even bigger targets: braindead corporate culture, shitty customer service, and lowest common denominator reality television. Unfairly buried for three years by its Malaysian distributors, “Sell Out!” might be the most perfect satire of our cynical, celebrity- and money-obsessed times ever made. And it has musical numbers!

Playing Friday July 1 and Monday July 4 at Walter Reade.

“Troubleshooter”
Directed by Kwok Hyeok-Jae, 2010

This movie is somewhat mislabeled as part of NYAFF 2011’s sidebar of Korean revenge thrillers. Only half right: there’s not much revenge going in “Troubleshooter” but there are plenty of thrills in the mold of Hitchcockian wrong man adventures like “The 39 Steps.” Sol Kyung-gu stars as Tae-sik, a private investigator who makes his living catching adulterers in the act. He cockily shows up at his latest gig, happily snapping away with his automatic camera, until he realizes he’s been set up: there’s a dead body where a couple of lovebirds should be and blood all over the floor. With the police hot on his trail, Tae-sik’s got to prove his innocence and figure out who’s framed him, all while also performing the tasks his mysterious blackmailer keeps sending him via cell phone in exchange for the only proof of his innocence. Luckily Tae-sik is a bad ass private eye, a master of technology and disguises who’s also not bad at kicking the crap out of bad guys either. From start to finish, this is just an immensely satisfying chase movie. Winner of the NYAFF 2011 award for the film most likely to get remade as a Jason Statham vehicle.

Playing Tuesday July 12 and Thursday July 14 at Walter Reade.

BKO: Bangkok Knockout
Directed by Panna Rittikrai, 2010

From the title alone, you might want to confuse this one with a crummy Nicolas Cage flick. But once the movie starts there will be no confusion: “BKO: Bangkok Knockout” is the apogee of the Thai martial arts flick, an exploitation extravaganza against which all future Thai martial arts flicks will be measured. From Panna Rittikrai, mentor and frequent collaborator of “Ong Bak”‘s Tony Jaa, comes the endearingly dopey story of a movie stunt team convinced they’ve been hired by big-time movie producer Mr. Sneed (!!!) to make a movie in Hollywood. They celebrate their new job with a big fancy dinner, too confident in their impending success to notice the caterers are acting a wee bit funny. Cut to the next day, and the whole stunt team finds themselves in a martial arts remake of “The Hangover,” drugged, confused, and lost in a giant abandoned construction site where they’re forced to battle an army of kung-fu caterers while evil millionaires wager on their lives with the mighty Mr. Sneed (!!!!!!!). There’s a lot of exposition to wade through in the early going, but from about the half-hour mark on “BKO” becomes an onslaught of amazing action sequences piled one on top of the other. There are fights in cages, fights in the air, fights on dirt bikes, even fights between dudes hanging underneath speeding tractor trailers. The good news here is this movie has already been picked up for U.S. distribution by Magnet Releasing, so even if you can’t make it to the New York Asian Film Festival, you’ll still be able to see this one in a few months. Lucky you.

Playing Saturday July 2 and Saturday July 9 at Walter Reade.

Also recommended at NYAFF 2011: “Bedevilled” (bleak and beautiful Korean revenge thriller); “Machete Maidens Unleashed!” (Poppy documentary on the history of Filipino exploitation cinema); “Horny House of Horror” (Troma-style horror/comedy set in brutal Japanese brothel); “Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky” (cartoonishly bloody future kung-fu campfest).

What do you want to see at NYAFF 2011? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

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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.
Die Hard restroom

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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