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Sundance 2012 announces Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, and more

Sundance 2012 announces Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, and more (photo)

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Following up their initial competition announcement the folks at the Sundance Film Festival have released the names of thirty additional 2012 selections, in the Spotlight, Park City at Midnight, NEXT, and New Frontiers sections.

Although these sections tend to focus more on young and up-and-coming filmmakers (particularly the NEXT sidebar, which was created just a few years ago with that specific mandate), you might find a few names you recognize in the full list of invited films below. NEXT is where you’ll find the new film from “Great World of Sound” director Craig Zobel; it’s called “Compliance” and it’s described as the (based-on-a-)true story of what happens “when a prank caller convinces a fast food restaurant manager to interrogate an innocent young employee.” Lynn Shelton, director of “Humpday,” will premiere “Your Sister’s Sister” starring Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and “Humpday”s Mark Duplass. Duplass also wrote his wife Katie Aselton‘s follow-up to her debut feature “The Freebie.” It’s called “Black Rock” and it stars Aselton, Lake Bell, and Kate Bosworth as “three childhood friends set aside their personal issues and reunite for a girls’ weekend on a remote island off the coast of Maine” until something goes wrong and it turns into a “deadly fight for survival.” You may recall Duplass also stars in “Safety Not Guaranteed,” one of the competition films at Sundance 2012. The guy’s everywhere! He’s like Michael Fassbender only without the brazen frontal nudity.

Going a little further off the beaten path, keep your eye on a film called “Grabbers” in the Park City at Midnight sidebar. It’s a monster movie with a twist so clever it hurts my heart that I didn’t think of it myself: the evil sea creatures that attack the film’s remote Irish village are apparently allergic to alcohol, so being drunk is the only way to guarantee survival. That’s just flat-out brilliant. Also exciting: the film stars Richard Coyle, who UK television fans will fondly remember as Jeff, the hilariously awkward buddy on four seasons of “Coupling.” When the Sundance schedule comes out, I’d mark that one on my calendar.

SPOTLIGHT
“Corpo Celeste” / Italy (Director and screenwriter: Alice Rohrwacher) — After moving back to southern Italy with her mother and older sister, 13-year-old Marta struggles to find her place, restlessly testing the boundaries of an unfamiliar city and the catechism of the Catholic church. Cast: Yle Vianello, Salvatore Cantalupo, Anita Caprioli, Renato Carpentiere.

“Declaration Of War” / Belgium (Director: Valérie Donzelli, Screenwriters: Jérémie Elkaïm, Valérie Donzelli) — A young couple embark upon a painful, enlightening journey when they discover that their newborn child is very ill. Cast: Valérie Donzelli, Jérémie Elkaïm, César Desseix. North American Premiere

“Elena” / Russia (Director: Andrei Zvyagintsev, Screenwriter: Oleg Negin) — A meditative, modern-noir tale about an older woman, Elena, who marries the wealthy business man for whom she worked and, when his health fails, is forced to deal with his estranged daughter who threatens her inheritance. Cast: Andrey Smirnov, Nadezhda Markina, Elena Lyadova, Alexey Rozin.

“Monsieur Lazhar” / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Philippe Falardeau) — An elegant reflection on loss and death focused on an Algerian immigrant teacher who brings emotional stability to a Montreal middle school class shaken by the suicide of their well-liked teacher. Cast: Fellag, Sophie Nélisse, Émilien Néron, Danielle Proulx, Brigitte Poupart.

“The Orator” / New Zealand (Director and screenwriter: Tusi Tamasese) — A Samoan villager must defend his land and family when they are threatened by powerful adversaries. Cast: Fa’afiaula Sagote, Tausili Pushparaj, Salamasina Mataia, Ioata Tanielu.

“The Raid” / Indonesia (Director and screenwriter: Gareth Evans) — All hell breaks loose when an elite SWAT team, given orders to raid a run-down Jakarta apartment building that houses the city’s most notorious crime boss, is forced to fight their way to freedom or die trying. Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah. U.S. Premiere

“Where Do We Go Now?” / France, Lebanon, Italy, Egypt (Director: Nadine Labaki, Screenwriters: Nadine Labaki, Jihad Hojeily, Rodney Al Haddad, with the collaboration of Thomas Bidegain) — A group of Lebanese women try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village. Cast: Claude Baz Moussawbaa, Layla Hakim, Nadine Labaki, Yvonne Maalouf, Antoinette Noufaily. U.S. Premiere

“Wuthering Heights” / United Kingdom (Director: Andrea Arnold, Screenwriters: Andrea Arnold, Olivia Hetreed) — A freshly conceived retelling of Emily Bronte’s classic novel about Heathcliff and Cathy, two teenagers whose passionate love for each other creates a storm of vengeance. Cast: Kaya Scodelario, James Howson, Solomon Glave, Shannon Beer, Steve Evets. U.S. Premiere

“Your Sister’s Sister” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lynn Shelton) — While still mourning the recent death of his brother, a bereft and confused man finds love and direction in a most unexpected place. Cast: Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, Mark Duplass. U.S. Premiere

PARK CITY AT MIDNIGHT
“Black Rock” / U.S.A. (Director: Katie Aselton, Screenwriter: Mark Duplass) — Three childhood friends set aside their personal issues and reunite for a girls’ weekend on a remote island off the coast of Maine. One wrong move turns their weekend getaway into a deadly fight for survival. Cast: Katie Aselton, Lake Bell, Kate Bosworth.

“Excision” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Richard Bates, Jr.) — A disturbed and delusional high school student with aspirations of a career in medicine goes to extremes to earn the approval of her controlling mother. Cast: AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Roger Bart, John Waters.

“Grabbers” / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Jon Wright, Screenwriter: Kevin Lehane) — When the residents of an idyllic Irish fishing village are attacked by mysterious, blood-sucking sea creatures, a high blood alcohol content could be the only thing that gets them through the night. Cast: Richard Coyle, Ruth Bradley, Russell Tovey, Bronagh Gallagher.

“The Pact” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Nicholas McCarthy) — As a woman struggles to come to grips with her past in the wake of her mother’s death, an unsettling presence emerges in her childhood home. Cast: Caity Lotz, Casper Van Dien.

“SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS” / United Kingdom (Directors: Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace) — A documentary that follows LCD Soundsystem front man James Murphy over a crucial 48-hour period, from the day of their final gig at Madison Square Garden to the morning after, the official end of one of the best live bands in the world.

“Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim) — After two guys are given a billion dollars to make a movie, their Hollywood dreams run off course and they decide to rehabilitate a run-down shopping mall in an attempt to make the money back. Cast: Tim Heidecker, Eric Wareheim.

“V/H/S” / U.S.A. (Directors: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, Radio Silence, Screenwriters: Simon Barrett, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Radio Silence) — When a group of misfits is hired by an unknown third party to burglarize a desolate house and acquire a rare VHS tape, they discover more found footage than they bargained for. Cast: Joe Swanberg, Calvin Reeder, Adam Wingard, Sophia Takal, Kate Lyn Sheil.

NEXT <=>
“COMPLIANCE” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Craig Zobel) — When a prank caller convinces a fast food restaurant manager to interrogate an innocent young employee, no one is left unscathed. Based on true events. Cast: Ann Dowd, Pat Healy, Dreama Walker, Bill Camp, Philip Ettinger.

“I AM NOT A HIPSTER” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Destin Daniel Cretton) — Set in the indie music and art scene, this is a character-driven story exploring themes of love, loss and what it means to be creative in the face of tragedy. Cast: Dominic Bogart, Alvaro Orlando, Brad William Henke, Tammy Minoff, Kandis Erickson, Lauren Coleman.

“KID-THING” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Zellner) — A rebellious girl whose existence is devoid of parental guidance, spends her time roaming the land, shoplifting, and vandalizing. Her routine is broken one day while playing in the woods when she hears a woman calling from a mysterious hole in the ground, asking for help. Cast: Sydney Aguirre, Susan Tyrrell, Nathan Zellner, David Zellner.

“Mosquita y Mari” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Aurora Guerrero) — A friendship between two 15-year-old Latinas becomes complex as they struggle to recognize the sexual undercurrent in their relationship. Cast: Fenessa Pineda, Venecia Troncoso, Joaquín Garrido, Laura Patalano, Dulce Maria Solis.

“My Best Day” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Erin Greenwell) — Karen’s life as a small-town receptionist is turned upside down when the father she never knew calls for a refrigerator repair. That day she encounters a sister addicted to off track betting, a brother struggling with grade school heartache and bullies, and a load of fireworks. Cast: Rachel Style, Ashlie Atkinson, Raúl Castillo, Jo Armeniox, Robert Salerno, Harris Doran.

“Pursuit of Loneliness” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Laurence Thrush) — An elderly patient dies in a county hospital leaving no known next of kin. Over the next 24 hours, four central characters try to find a family member to contact regarding the death of this anonymous individual. Cast: Joy Hille, Sandra Escalante, Sharon Munfus, Kirsi Toivanen, Natalie Fouron.

“Sleepwalk With Me” / U.S.A. (Co-directors: Mike Birbiglia and Seth Barrish, Screenwriters: Mike Birbiglia, Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia, Seth Barrish) — Reluctant to confront his fears of love, honesty, and growing up, a budding standup comedian has both a hilarious and intense struggle with sleepwalking. Cast: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn, Cristin Milioti.

“That’s What She Said” / U.S.A. (Director: Carrie Preston, Screenwriter: Kellie Overbey) — Armed with nothing but their addictions and lots of personal baggage, two best friends and a mysterious young interloper battle a series of misadventures on their quest for love in New York City. Cast: Anne Heche, Marcia DeBonis, Alia Shawkat.

“TWENTY-EIGHT HOTEL ROOMS” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Matt Ross) — Seen only as fragments in the secret world of hotel rooms, a long-term affair becomes perhaps the most significant relationship of a couple’s lives. Cast: Chris Messina, Marin Ireland.

NEW FRONTIER
“Bestiaire” / Canada, France (Director: Denis Côté) — The boundaries we place around animals are provocatively and formally explored in this meditation on the relationship between nature and humanity. World Premiere

“An Oversimplification of Her Beauty” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Terence Nance) — A quixotic young man humorously courses live action and various animated landscapes as he tries to understand himself after a mystery girl stands him up. Cast: Terence Nance, Namik Minter, Chanelle Pearson. World Premiere

“THE PERCEPTION OF MOVING TARGETS” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Weston Currie) — A segmenting journey into the dreams of four neighbors. Cast: Brighid Thomas, Cherie Blackfeather, Gerald Casey, Tom Wood, Jin Camou.

“Room 237” / U.S.A. (Director: Rodney Ascher) — This experimental documentary explores the numerous theories about the real meaning of Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining. World Premiere

“whiteonwhite:algorithmicnoir” / U.S.A., Kazakhstan (Directors: Eve Sussman | Rufus Corporation, Screenwriters: Eve Sussman, Kevin Messman, Jeff Wood) — A computer program assembles raw elements of music, dialogue, sound and footage shot in Kazakhstan into a generative noir mystery film in this live algorithmic performance. Cast: Jeff Wood, Marina Fedorenko.

What looks good to you at Sundance 2012? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

Janet Varney -Photo Credit: Kim Simms/IFC

Jan Against Evil

10 Things You Need to Know About Janet Varney

Catch Janet Varney on Stan Against Evil premiering November 2nd at 10P with back-to-back episodes.

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Janet Varney is about to go big time. She’s been on our radar for years, always popping up on that show, Web series or podcast we couldn’t get enough of. Now, Janet’s about to star on Stan Against Evil, the new IFC horror comedy series from the folks behind The Simpsons and The Walking Dead. As a little homework, we thought we’d dig into this talented performer’s past, and see what’s helped make her such a star on the rise.

Bone up on all things Janet Varney below, and be sure to stay tuned to IFC.com for more Stan Against Evil news before the big premiere on November 2nd at 10P.

10. She’s an Animation Voice Acting Superstar.

Korra
Nickelodeon Animation Studio

While Janet might be a new face to some folks, animation fans know she’s been the voice behind some beloved animated characters. Probably best known for bringing the heroic Korra to life on The Legend of Korra, she’s also provided her talents to shows and movies like Norm of the North, Sanjay and Craig and Dante’s Inferno.


9. The San Francisco Sketchfest? She co-founded it.

SF Sketchfest
SF Sketchfest

Now entering its 15th year, the SF Sketchfest started as an excuse by Varney, and friends David Owen and Cole Stratton, to give Bay Area comedians a place to perform. Over the years it has transformed into a comedy hotbed, with everyone from Zach Galifianakis to the original cast members of SNL taking part.


8. She’s Been Known to Perform Old Time Radio Plays.

Shawn Robinson / The Daily Quirk

Shawn Robinson / The Daily Quirk

The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a stage show and podcast that performs in the style of the radio plays of yore. Varney began as a guest, popping up in numerous productions, until she finally just went ahead and joined the troupe. Some of the show’s more notable regulars include Nathan Fillion, Comedy Bang! Bang! favorite Paul F. Tompkins and Linda Cardellini.


7. She Nailed a Classic Key & Peele Sketch.

Key & Peele was always at its best when deconstructing race in America. In this classic sketch, Janet Varney and comedian Natasha Leggero starred as two women who vacillated between the good and the bad of having preconceived notions about black people. Are stereotypes always racist? Can you use people’s ignorance to your own advantage? Is it wrong to have sex with a racist girl? No, seriously, is it? Because Key and Peele would like to know.


6. She’s Riffed Movies with the MST3K gang.

Footloose Rifftrax
ColeStratton.com/Rifftrax

From the warped minds behind Mystery Science Theater 3000RiffTrax Presents is a series where comedians are set loose on lousy movies, taking them down one sarcastic comment at a time. Varney, along with longtime collaborator Cole Stratton, are frequent guests on the show.


5. She claims June Diane Raphael is an Amazing Kisser.

Burning Love
Yahoo! Studios

While doing an AMA on Reddit, Janet coughed up some juicy gossip. Varney was one of the stars of the Yahoo! series Burning Love, making it all the way to the end of the parody dating series. At one point, she was fortunate to lock lips with Mrs. Raphael, and gives the experience a big thumbs up.


4. Her Podcast The JV Club Perfectly Captures Our Awkward Years.

The JV Club
Nerdist

A renaissance woman if there ever was one, Varney curates her own art exhibition called Fleeting Immersion, writes music, and hosts her own podcast, The JV Club, on the Nerdist Network. A weekly look back at all of our awkward years, the show is consistently featured in The Onion’s AV Club “Best Podcasts” lists. Guests from all areas of entertainment have stopped by to dish about their formative years, including Portlandia‘s own Carrie Brownstein.


3. She Had Puppet Dreams with Neil Patrick Harris.

Neil's Puppet Dreams
Nerdist

Varney helped bring Neil and his partner David Burtka’s puppet fantasies to life with the Web series Neil’s Puppet Dreams. She raved about working on the Jim Henson Company series, telling Nerdist that “[Neil’s Puppet Dreams is] my baby. I had a baby with two gay men and that’s what came out.”


2. Remember Dinner and a Movie? She Cohosted it!

Dinner and a Movie
TBS

What better way to enjoy a movie than with a delicious dinner inspired by a pun? From “Snow Coens” to “The Hippocratic Loaf” to “The Beets Go On,” if there was an adorably corny food-related joke to mine, the good people behind Dinner and a Movie found it. Thankfully, that was far from the only reason to tune in. From 2005 to 2011, Janet got to stuff her face and flaunt her film knowledge as the host of the late night dinner party. Unfortunately, the show was canceled, but Varney says she’s still extremely close with cohosts Paul Gilmartin and Claud Mann.


1. She Plays Becca on You’re The Worst.

Janet Varney You're the Worst
FX

Prior to signing on to fight demons in Stan Against Evil, Janet was channeling inner demons on the FX dysfunction-com You’re the Worst. Her role as Becca, sister to Lindsay and Jimmy’s ex, is both integral to the show (her wedding is where Jimmy meets Gretchen) and earned Varney rave reviews.

Check out Janet in a clip from Stan Against Evil below.

The Wicker Man Nic Cage Bees

Great Moments in Rotten History

10 Classic Rotten Movie Moments

Catch "Too Rotten to Miss" movies Fridays at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Warner Brothers/courtesy Everett Collection

Sometimes you don’t need to watch an entire movie to know how bad it is. Sometimes, just knowing about infamous scenes is enough to know why some movies have entered the cultural lexicon of badness. As we kick off a new month of “Too Rotten to Miss” movies on IFC, here are ten of the most infamous rotten movie moments — notorious even if you haven’t seen the movie from which they spawned.

1. “Not the bees!,” The Wicker Man

Nic Cage bees
Warner Bros.

There could be an entire list of these moments starring just Nicolas Cage. But despite a wealth of moments to choose from, the actor’s most infamous rotten moment comes from The Wicker Man, in which a fragile masculine fever dream in the form of a neo-pagan cult dumps a bucket of bees on Nic’s head.

This one is particularly beloved in bad movie circles — it was even made into a techno remix.


2. “I was being trained…to conquer GALAXIES!,” Battlefield Earth

Though I’m partial to all of the scenes on this list, this one has a special place in my heart. Battlefield Earth‘s badness is mostly stylistic, a film that positions itself as epic and badass but is really just…well, it’s something.

In this scene, John Travolta’s alien character Terl is getting drunk to drown his woes, so his line read is exceptionally ridiculous in a film full of already ridiculous line reads. And while you can’t say the failure of Battlefield Earth is entirely Travolta’s fault, he’s not blameless, either.


3. “Man, everybody got AIDS and shit!,” Showgirls

Showgirls hand wave
United Artists

Picking only one scene from this fruit salad of wonderful, terrible ideas was a challenge — what could possibly outdo “Different PLACES!“? Or Nomi’s empowering beating of her friend’s rapist while topless with lipstick on her nipples? Or any scene between Elizabeth Berkley and Gina Gershon?

Showgirls whorey
United Artists

But really, one must go with that exercise in David Lynchian surrealism where Nomi is warned off by her friend/mentor(?) James against…unsafe sex? Metaphorical promiscuity? Actual promiscuity? Because everybody got AIDS. AND shit. #90s.


4. “Daddy would you like some sausage?,” Freddy got Fingered

Like with Showgirls, Freddy Got Fingered is also a stacked deck — do I choose, for instance, the scene in which Gord (Tom Green) manually stimulates a horse while merrily shrieking, “Look at me, daddy! I’m a farmer!”? Or, perhaps I could go with the one where he shoots elephant semen at Rip Torn out of an ejaculating elephant like an anti-aircraft missile? But no, perhaps because it’s more absurd than disgusting, Gord trying to tap into his creativity by chanting a monotone “Daddy, would you like some sausage?” has probably become the most infamous scene from an already infamously terrible movie.


5. “They’re eating her…,” Troll 2

Troll 2 is so terrible it even has a documentary (Best Worst Movie) chronicling its terrible-ness. But the truth about Troll 2 (which happens not to really be a sequel to Troll, or have much at all to do with it, really) is that, unlike Freddy Got Fingered and Showgirls, Troll 2 doesn’t have a litany of delightfully terrible sequences to choose from, and is comparatively forgettable. But the scene in which Arnold (Darren Ewing) witnesses a girl turn into plant matter, and reacts…accordingly(?) is definitely one for the books.

This one also has a dubstep remix!


6. Basketball scene, Catwoman

Catwoman is cited by many as the film that single-handedly killed superhero movies starring women, a genre which has been basically non-existent until next year’s Wonder Woman film (finger’s crossed, everyone). Here, a newly powered Catwoman (Halle Berry) goes one-on-one with her love interest, played by Eric Roberts. I think what they were going for is light-hearted and sexy, but the result defies not only logic, but spatial relativity, from a point-of-view shot where Berry is awkwardly shaking her booty to the confusing rapid fire cuts. Why, God why, are there so many cuts?


7. “Hi doggy!,” The Room

The Room is more a collection of surreal one-liners than scenes with intent or purpose. With that in mind, which do I go with as the most rotten moment? The “I definitely have breast cancer” scene? Or perhaps, even more memorable, “Everyone betray me!” (Watch it above.)

But I have to go with “Hi doggy!” for being the scene that wholly embodies the strangeness of The Room. Aside from the fact that the scene doesn’t really need to be in the movie, it looks like the crew only had this flower shop available to shoot in for ten minutes, and the rushed, surreal nature of the clipped dialogue just puts it over the edge.


8. “Turkey Time,” Gigli

And thank you, Jennifer Lopez, for basically ensuring that the boyfriends of an entire generation of women would never, ever go down on them. Alternately, if you’re not a fan of oral sex and want to make sure he never tries, this line is guaranteed to kill any mood, possibly forever.


9. Peter Parker dance, Spider-Man 3

When people want to explain why Spider-man 3 was the worst of the Spider-Man movies, perhaps the worst of any movie, this is the go-to example for why. People generally enjoyed Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man run for its ability to straddle a line between dramatic realism and comic book-y chicanery, but this scene alone brought the whole franchise dangerously close to Batman & Robin territory.


10. “Stop lubricating the man,” Transformers

Personally, I don’t think this one gets enough credit for the awful moment it is. Beloved character actor John Turturro gets pissed on by a precocious mute giant space robot named Bumblebee.

Oh, there are many terrible moments in later Transformers films, and yes, most of them do involve John Turturro…

But the first time I saw the Bumblebee golden shower scene, I legitimately thought I had dreamed it until a friend reminded me of its existence days later, including the little “byooiing!” as his…lubricant cap pops off? Truly, this was a landmark of badness.

Kick back with The Matrix Revolutions this Friday at 8P on IFC!

John C. McGinley -Photo Credit Kim Simms/IFC

Necessary Evil

Get Freaky With New Stan Against Evil Photos

Stan Against Evil haunts IFC starting November 2nd at 10P with back-to-back episodes.

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From the warped minds behind The Simpsons and The Walking Dead comes your next horror comedy obsession.

Stan Against Evil employs ghoulish horror and pitch-black comedy that’ll both tingle the spine and tickle the ribs. And before the demon-possessed festivities kick off Wednesday, November 2nd at 10P ET with back-to-back episodes, we’ve got a glimpse at stars John C. McGinley and Janet Varney as mismatched small New England town sheriffs Stan Miller and Evie Barret who find themselves pitted against witches, demonic goats and other bizarre horrors.

Check out the Stan Against Evil stars — both living and undead — in the brand new photos below. Follow Stan on Facebook and Twitter for more updates as we approach the scarifiying November 2nd premiere.

Janet Varney Stan Against Evil

Witch Stan Against Evil

Book Stan Against Evil

Demon Stan Against Evil

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