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IFC.com’s 2011 Fall Movie Preview Guide

IFC.com’s 2011 Fall Movie Preview Guide (photo)

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Summer may be the season of the blockbuster, but September through December is where studios release their most varied titles. From sci-fi thrillers to dramas and potential Oscar nominees, Hollywood unleashes a veritable storm of A-list talent and often brilliantly original films. Here are our picks for the highlights of Fall 2011.

Select a monthSept | Oct | Nov | Dec

9/2 – “APOLLO 18” (Dimension – Gonzalo López-Gallego – Sci-Fi Thriller)

darby2-05302011.jpgWhat Is It: Apollo 17, which launched in December 1972, was NASA’s last official manned mission to the moon. However, in December 1974, the Department of Defense sent two astronauts on a top secret, under-the-table kind of mission, and the found footage from that journey reveals why we’ve never returned to the moon since. What’s up there? Aliens? Ghosts? Russians? A bunch of sound and light cues? Or something even more terrifying?

Why We Care: We cry foul with the whole “the reason why we never returned to the moon” angle, ’cause if there was anything resembling life (or afterlife, or whatever it is) on that rock, we’d be up there every day and twice on Sundays with scores of military types, scientists, psychics, hippies, you name it. Still, the premise does succeed in giving us a bit of the heebie-jeebies, especially since it involves something as seemingly innocuous as the moon (versus, say, Mars, which everyone knows is crawling with nasty aliens). We’ll call it right now as a mix of “Paranormal Activity,” “The Blair Witch Project” and “Alien,” and we’re surprised the whole “found footage” horror gimmick hadn’t been translated to an outer space setting earlier — there are plenty of opportunities with such an approach to shell out some good jump scares (and rake in some decent box office) on a low budget. Let’s just hope “Apollo 18” turns out to be actually scary, and if it has to have a twist ending, let’s hope it actually enhances the movie we’ve just seen rather than negates it.


9/2 – “SHARK NIGHT 3D” (Relativity – David Ellis – Horror)


darby2-05302011.jpgWhat Is It: Sexy and inexplicably/unnecessarily obnoxious young people show off their Hollywood-perfect abs and bikini bodies during a weekend getaway at a lake and find that sharks don’t need salt water to wreck havoc on the attractive. Sara Paxton plays (lest anyone be confused) a gal named Sara, a hot, smart and sensitive blonde who might last a little longer than any of her idiot friends — though, if you remember “Deep Blue Sea,” being “hot, smart and sensitive” doesn’t necessarily mean you’re completely safe from harm all the way up to the closing credits.

Why We Care: Because it’s called “Shark Night 3D,” which means there are sharks and when they bite people in half, that shit’s gonna fly out into your face. We’re not quite sure about that “Night” part, though, as every scene in the trailer seems to take place during the day — are we actually going to get some nocturnal shark attacks, or is that part of the title supposed to be meta-ironic-cool and stuff? Anyway, director David Ellis is right at home when it comes to this kind of outrageous mayhem, whether it be in three dimensions (“The Final Destination”) or not (“Snakes on a Plane”) — the only thing kind of disheartening is that PG-13 rating, which means the kill scenes won’t be too graphic, which seems a bit self-contradictory with this sort of flick (and, uh, basic premise). Maybe we’ll get a more visceral Director’s Cut on Blu-ray… and some more night scenes.


9/9 – “CONTAGION” (Warner Bros. – Steven Soderbergh – Action Thriller)

darby2-05302011.jpgWhat Is It: Famous movie stars get really, really sick in director Steven Soderbergh’s ensemble examination of a worldwide epidemic in which a highly dangerous (and wildly infectious) super-virus lays waste to the population and spreads fear, suspicion and panic. The impressive dramatis personae includes Matt Damon as a husband and father whose wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) is one of the earliest victims of the bug; Lawrence Fishburne, Marion Cotillard and Kate Winslet as three of the doctors racing against time to find a cure (or at least containment); and Jude Law as a San Francisco journalist.

Why We Care: Steven Soderbergh pulled off a compelling portrait of several characters from radically different walks of life all linked by a multinational crisis with “Traffic” (which, believe it or not, is almost 11 years old now), and “Contagion” looks like it could be just as powerful an examination (if a bit louder and more frantic). As usual, he’s managed to gather a terrific cast, and he’s already thrown us for a loop with the trailer revealing that one of his all-stars dies pretty early on. It’s good to see Soderbergh back where he belongs: telling talented (and expensive) movie stars what to do and delivering a compelling story on time and under budget. No more talk of “retirement,” okay. Steven? We kind of need you out here.


9/9 – “WARRIOR” (Lionsgate – Gavin O’Connor – Action/Drama)

darby2-05302011.jpgWhat Is It: Director Gavin O’Connor delivers a punchy Irish melodrama with this story of family and fightin’ (sounds pretty Irish, no?), as Tom Conlon (Tom Hardy), a high school teacher and former boxer, is trained to get back in the ring by his alcoholic father (Nick Nolte). And wouldn’t you know it — his opponent in a big mixed martial arts tournament ends up being his own brother, Brendan (Joel Edgerton). Jennifer Morrison plays what appears to be the only female in this story’s universe.

Why We Care: No other sport lends itself to serving as a backdrop for a good screaming/crying/hugging family drama quite like boxing. “Warrior” definitely isn’t a new story — we’ve seen many variations of it over the years, from “Rocky” to “The Champ” to “Raging Bull” to last year’s excellent “The Fighter.” But when this type of story is done well (and it often is), there’s nothing quite like it — nothing can get your blood pumping quite like a good boxing movie. “Warrior” definitely looks to be another entry in the “good” category; the casting of Nolte as a drunken Irish trainer is inspired, and the two stars, Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton, are both about half a millimeter from complete and total movie stardom — this might be the film that makes them both Hollywood heavyweights. Director Gavin O’Connor’s last film, “Pride and Glory,” was nothing if not passionate and, rather admirably, completely and unapologetically earnest — expect the same treatment here.


9/16 – “STRAW DOGS” (ScreenGems – Rod Lurie – Crime Thriller)

darby2-05302011.jpgWhat Is It: “Superman Returns” couple James Marsden and Kate Bosworth reunite for this sweaty Southern gothic in which a Hollywood screenwriter and his trophy wife move to her Dixie hometown, where they’re promptly terrorized by her hunky thug of an ex-boyfriend (Alexander Skarsgard) and his gang of redneck ne’er-do-wells. A remake of the now-classic 1971 thriller starring Dustin Hoffman and directed by Sam Peckinpah, which was based on the book “The Siege at Trencher’s Farm” by Gordon Williams.

Why We Care: Because it’s certainly been a while since we’ve had a sweaty Southern gothic! The original “Straw Dogs” was a harrowing tale about a meek pacifist driven to arguably psychotic levels of bloody retribution when violent men invade his home (and wife) — it’s the kind of movie that made your stomach turn, as only Sam Peckinpah could do. They just don’t make ’em like that any more, but this remake doesn’t seem like it’s trying to compete with its classic predecessor on any level, apparently content to deliver what looks like a well-made revenge flick that’s heavy on the sticky, dangerous atmosphere. This is a perfect role for James Marsden, who can pull off the crazy behind the eyes, and Kate Bosworth gets to prance around showing off her wet, scantily-clad body for the first time since “Blue Crush,” though this time in a much more sinister (and decidedly grown-up) context. And watch out for that Alexander Skarsgard fella — it’s only a matter of time before the “True Blood” vamp explodes and emerges Phoenix-like from his own ashes as a bona fide Hollywood superstar.


9/16 – “RESTLESS” (Sony Classics – Gus Van Sant – Drama)

darby2-05302011.jpgWhat Is It: Gus Van Sant’s oh so quirky melodrama chronicles the romance between a terminally ill cutie (Mia Wasikowska) and a weirdo who likes to attend funerals (Henry Hopper) whose best friend is the ghost of a WWII kamikaze pilot (Ryo Kase). No, we didn’t suddenly timewarp back to the ’90s; this bizarro indie flick was actually made in the past year — and if it doesn’t make you tear up at least once, you’re a sad, cold-hearted bastard who doesn’t believe in love (or ghosts).

Why We Care: Gus Van Sant could vomit on the sidewalk and exclaim “Hey, look at this!” and we’d probably at least nod and “appreciate” it. Few directors have been more idiosyncratic than he; he’ll try everything and anything without fear (or concern that it will make either sense or money) and yet all of his work is distinctly and recognizably his. It’s a good thing we love Van Sant so much, ’cause “Restless” (horrible title, that) looks like it’s going to require a lot of that love if we’re going to get through it without going into sugar shock. However, as ridiculous (way ridiculous) and obnoxiously sentimental as it looks, it’s also got Mia Wasikowska in its corner (or front and center, rather), which definitely goes a long way — and, through thick and thin, we believe in Gus, even when he tries to give us reasons not to.


9/23 – “MONEYBALL” (Sony – Bennett Miller – Drama)

darby2-05302011.jpgWhat Is It: A sports story on a low budget, “Moneyball” chronicles Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane’s (Brad Pitt) successful attempt to put together a baseball club by shunning the hopelessly dated insight of baseball “insiders” and instead using computer-generated analysis to create a sort of hand-picked “Island of Misfit Toys” of great players. He is a assisted by Peter Brand (Jonah Hill), a statistics whiz kid just out of college. Victory ensues.

Why We Care: The crusade of Billy Beane and his radical reinvention of baseball recruitment and management is one of the strangest and most interesting true-life sports stories out there. Really, this guy shunned decades-long traditions and practices and tried something so bizarre and out there that there’s really no way it should’ve not only succeeded but hit a home run straight out of the park and into the next neighborhood (figuratively and literally). Brad Pitt is the perfect choice to play Beane, and his knack for sly comedy should come in handy for his scenes with Hill, who looks to be doing wonders with what’s probably little more than a reactionary role. Add Philip Seymour Hoffman (who we just don’t see enough of these days) reuniting with his “Capote” director Bennett Miller and a screenplay co-written by Aaron Sorkin and you’ve got yourself an Oscar contender covering all the bases.


9/23 – “MACHINE GUN PREACHER” (Relativity – Marc Forster – Drama)

darby2-05302011.jpgWhat Is It: Marc Forster (“Quantum of Solace,” “Monster’s Ball”) directs the true-life story of Sam Childers (Gerard Butler), a former drug-dealing biker who found God and became a crusader for hundreds of Sudanese children who’ve been forced to become soldiers. Childers and his wife Lynn (played by Michelle Monaghan) founded and currently operate Angels of East Africa, the Children’s Village Orphanage in Nimule, Sudan.

Why We Care: Yes, thank you, Marc Forster, for giving Gerard Butler a role in something that’s not a lame romantic comedy co-starring Jennifer Aniston or Hilary Swank or whoever. Don’t let the somewhat goofy, “Hobo with a Shotgun”-esque title throw you off — the story of Sam Childers is a strange but true fable; whatever inspired a hard-drinking biker thug to drop his hellraising ways and go save the children in the name of the Lord can only be described as “miraculous.” Michael Shannon is in this, too, which is awesome, but we’re most looking forward to seeing Butler sink his teeth into his first truly lusty/juicy role since screaming (often) about Sparta as King Leonidas in “300.” Call this a Saul/Paul yarn for those who know their Bible, and Childers certainly knows his — and hundreds of kids thank him for it.


9/30 – “50/50” (Summit – Jonathan Levine – Drama/Comedy)

darby2-05302011.jpgWhat Is It: A bittersweet portrait of dying young, “50/50” tells the story of a 27-year-old who’s suddenly diagnosed with cancer (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and how this affects his best friend (Seth Rogen), girlfriend (Bryce Dallas Howard), mother (Anjelica Huston) and, above all, himself. Determined to beat the odds, he befriends both his young therapist (Anna Kendrick) and several fellow cancer patients (including Philip Baker Hall and Matt Frewer). Directed by Jonathan Levine (“The Wackness”) and based on the real-life experiences of screenwriter Will Reiser.

Why We Care: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is fast becoming a national treasure. His performances in “Brick,” “Mysterious Skin” and “The Lookout” were all top-notch, and now he’s transitioning nicely into more mainstream fare with featured roles in “Inception” and the upcoming “The Dark Knight Rises” (though let’s just forget about his turn as Cobra Commander in “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” shall we?). He owned as a punk rock guardian angel/trickster earlier this year in “Hesher,” and now “50/50” looks like it could very well be his breakout hit. It’s extremely difficult subject matter handled with an Apatow-ian sense of humor and sensitivity — hopefully audiences won’t shy away from what’s bound to be an unapologetic tearjerker that won’t hold your hand through the rough patches.

Extra: Watch the “50/50” trailer with exclusive audio commentary from director Jonathan Levine

Continue to October »

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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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