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 FantasticFest.com 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.

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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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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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