DID YOU READ

Fantastic Fest 2011: “Manborg,” reviewed

Fantastic Fest 2011: “Manborg,” reviewed (photo)

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The plot keywords for “Manborg” on the Fantastic Fest website are: action, comedy, sci-fi, and bizarre. To which I would add the following: goofy, violent, funny, cheap, and charming. The mythos of this film is huge. There’s a cataclysmic war between the armies of man and hell, a dystopian future ruled by drippy-skinned demons, chase scenes on hoverbikes, and massive sci-fi battles. If Hollywood tried to remake “Manborg,” the movie would cost at least $150,000,000. I suspect director Steven Kostanski’s budget had at least five less zeros.

Stylistically, the movie looks and sounds like a really impressive cinematic from a Sega CD launch title circa 1992. The backgrounds are flat, the effects are crude, the voice dubbing is laughable, and the entire film looks like it was shot in front of a green screen with an old camcorder. All of that is by design. “Manborg” follows in the footsteps of recent movies like “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra” and “The FP” in celebrating a time in genre filmmaking when imagination and creativity were more important than photorealism. No one will mistake anything in “Manborg” for reality, and that’s the point. The movie is a crazed fantasy, freed of the limitations of budget, taste, realism, or good common sense.

It is about the aftermath of a war between man and the armies of hell, in a broken world controlled by an evil dictator named Count Draculon (Adam Brooks). A soldier who died in the war (Matthew Kennedy) awakens into this dark future with most of his body replaced, “Robocop”-style, by cybernetic enhancements. When someone asks him his name, he looks at his hands, one still marginally human, one covered with robotics. “Man…borg…” he replies. All righty, then.

Captured by Draculon’s forces, Manborg is forced into gladiatorial combat alongside a few other feisty human survivors, including a karate fighter (Ludwig Lee), a marksman (Conor Sweeney), and a knife wielding hot chick (Meredith Sweeney). Together they rebel against their overlords and plot to destroy Draculon. Along the way there are some surprisingly effective, anime-influenced fight scenes and some really good comic relief from a character called The Baron (Jeremy Gillespie), a future demonspawn warlord who has a crush on the knife wielding hot chick but doesn’t know how to talk to her. “You may be Prisoner #7, but you’re Prisoner #1 in my heart,” he stammers through a lipless, desiccated mouth held permanently in place by metal clamps.

Manborg himself is a fun character, but he’s also a living, breathing declaration of principles for high-flying, low-fi-ing Canadian filmmaking collective Astron-6, whose five members — Kostanski, Kennedy, Brooks, Sweeney, and Gillespie — did basically everything on the film from the acting to the special effects to the screenplay, and who assert on their website that their films, inspired by the “obscure VHS movies of the ’80s,” are financed “by pure, naive passion and ignorance alone.” Manborg, this hideous beast of a hero cobbled together from spare parts, symbolizes the power of discarded junk.

I don’t know how many people are going to find “Manborg.” But I suspect a lot of the people that do won’t be so quick to throw it away.

“Manborg” does not currently have U.S. distribution. If you see it, we want to know what you think. Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter. We’ve embedded the film’s trailer below.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar

via GIPHY

IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”


Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”


But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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