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Fantastic Fest 2011 Preview: Five movies that look fantastic

Fantastic Fest 2011 Preview: Five movies that look fantastic (photo)

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We’re at T-minus two days to the magic, mystery, and movies of Fantastic Fest, the film’s world’s premiere celebration of weird, wild, and wonderful cinema. It’s also a really good place for alliteration, apparently.

With the opening night world premiere of “The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence” bearing down on us, it’s time to game plan. It’s not an easy task. There are so many good movies at Fantastic Fest and they’re all playing opposite one another. What to pick?

To make things a little easier on you (or maybe harder on you if you’d already penciled in something else), here are my selections for the five most intriguing looking movies on this year’s schedule. I didn’t pick anything I’ve already seen (like Jeff Nichols’ “Take Shelter” — which is absolutely outstanding, by the way), and I didn’t pick anything with big-name directors or talent. I did that for two reasons. One, you don’t need me to tell you to see “Melancholia.” Two, Fantastic Fest is the place to discover amazing stuff you’d never have a chance to see anywhere else. Here’s what I’m personally looking forward to discovering this week.

Title: “Aardvark”
Director: Kitao Sakurai
Country of Origin: USA
Showtimes: 9/24 at 1:25pm, 9/26 at 9:30pm
Official Festival Synopsis: “Director Kitao Sakurai live in person! Larry (‘Aardvark”s blind-since-birth protagonist) has an innate curiosity that lands him smack in the middle of a bizarre criminal underworld replete with mixed martial arts, intrigue, murder, and pillow humping.”
Why It Looks Fantastic: This one sounds like a classic Fantastic Fest film: a movie about a blind martial artist that stars a man who is, in real life, a blind martial artist. How autobiographical is it? The writer of the detailed plot synopsis on doesn’t even seem to know (“It’s hard to tell what aspects of the film are fact and/or fiction,” Rodney Perkins writes). Director Kitao Sakurai was previously the cinematographer of Ry Russo-Young’s 2009 film “You Won’t Miss Me.” I have no idea what to make of this thing. That’s why I’m dying to check it out.

Title: “Invasion of the Alien Bikini”
Director: Oh Young-doo
Country of Origin: South Korea
Showtimes: 9/23 at 3:15pm, 9/28 at 6:15pm
Official Festival Synopsis: “An ultra-stylized, super-cheap action/comedy/sci-fi/bikini flick that will be the best under $5000 film you’ll see all year.”
Why It Looks Fantastic: Fantastic Fest definitely looks favorably on movies made with no money and a lot of creativity. Based on that description, it sounds like “Invasion of the Alien Bikini” is such a movie. A sci-fi-/comedy/action flick for under five grand? I’m down. The mustaches look sweet too.

Title: “The Squad”
Director: Jaime Osorio
Country of Origin: Colombia
Showtimes: 9/22 at 8:00pm, 9/26 at 2:00pm
Official Festival Synopsis: “A feuding special ops unit is tasked to uncover the mystery of what happened at a desolate military base in this tense and claustrophobic South American thriller.”
Why It Looks Fantastic: When Fantastic Fest head honcho Tim League was asked by Entertainment Weekly what movies were going to have people talking at this year’s festival, the first movie he picked was “The Squad.” He called it “pretty creepy.” Good enough for me; the man knows what he’s talking about.

Title: “You’re Next”
Director: Adam Wingard
Country of Origin: USA
Showtimes: 9/24 at 11:40pm and 9/26 at 11:30pm
Official Festival Synopsis: “From the team behind the Fantastic Fest-award winning film ‘A Horrible Way to Die,’ ‘You’re Next’ traps a family inside a secluded mansion in the middle of nowhere. Outside the home is a group of animal-masked killers who take a stab at making sure none of them leave alive.”
Why It Looks Fantastic: I never saw “A Horrible Way to Die,” but this film got some very strong reviews out of the just-concluded Toronto Film Festival. indieWIRE called it “gory fun” and The Hollywood Reporter described the frenzied scene after its Toronto screening where indie film buyers scrambled to acquire the film (according to Deadline, Lionsgate is close to signing a deal to release the film). Sounds like I’ll have the chance to see this one in theaters at some point in the future, but I don’t want to wait that long.

Title: “You Said What?”
Director: Nini Bull Robsahm
Country of Origin: Norway
Showtimes: 9/24 at 6:50pm, 9/29 at 4:30pm
Official Festival Synopsis: “The producers of ‘Dead Snow’ reimagine Takashi Miike’s ‘Audition’ as a rom-com and make Peter Stormare ride a paper mache dragon shrieking that he is the King of Darkness.”
Why It Looks Fantastic: Because it sounds like a terrible idea until you take a look closer and realize it makes perfect, perverse sense. The plot of “Audition” — man organizes an audition for a film that doesn’t exist as a way of helping a friend meet women — could totally be the plot of a romantic comedy (I see the American version starring Tom Hanks and Jennifer Aniston). Throw in this business of Peter Stormare (“Fargo,” “Armageddon”) and the paper dragon, and there’s no way this isn’t, at the very least, a wild, fascinating mess.

What movies are you looking forward to checking out at Fantastic Fest? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


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

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.