DID YOU READ

“Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” – First impressions from the Sundance world premiere

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By Jordan Hoffman

Not since John Waters’ “Desperate Living” has a feature film ever been more dedicated to stream-of-consciousness shock humor as Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim’s “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie.” It will simultaneously blow your mind and test your patience, offering bathtubs full of gross-outs, character oddities, baffling post-production tweaks, and, on occasion, some really well-crafted jokes. It is hilarious and innovative, but relentless and exhausting, and will no doubt cause even their greatest supporters to wonder if the fifteen minute format of their “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” might be the perfect clay from which they should sculpt.

The film opens with the greatest series of false starts since “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” but once the story gets rolling our two idiot heroes find themselves in debt to a gangster-businessman played by Robert Loggia after blowing a billion dollars on an awful three minute movie. After a night of hard drinking and body piercing they look to the sky and see their future in the stars: Doing Business.

Doing Business is shortened to DOBIS, a word that is said roughly seven hundred and fifty thousand times in the film (and it gets funnier every time.) DOBIS is a PR consulting firm (or something) and a whacked out, “Top Gun”-loving Will Ferrell convinces then they will find fortune by turning around a decrepit, 1980s looking mall.

The mall, which is overrun by an angry wolf, is a collection of horrible shops like a used toilet paper store and a restaurant where they only serve bread. It’s a perfect way to incorporate the sketch comedy feel into this loose narrative. (Well, that as well as fourth-wall breaking cheap informercials to help you “Learn From Your Film.”)

Some of the sketches are more creative than others, but all of them are funny. And herein lies the problem. “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie” is in desperate need of cutting, but I would have no idea what to cut. There’s an “in for a penny, in for a pound” type of deal you have to make with yourself when you watch a type of movie like this.

I’d say that perhaps it is a movie best seen at home, where you can pause the DVD and take a break for a while, but then you would miss out on the thrills of a group experience. Watching the silhouettes of the older couple in front of me who were NOT amused by the spiritual healing via teen diarrhea is something I’ll treasure for quite some time.

My experience with this ludicrous movie began in an appropriate manner. Prior to the big midnight premiere the film’s publicity team threw a rather swank dinner at a hotel atop a giant mountain, then gave some of us a lift in a brightly lit karaoke RV. It got into a light fender bender along the way so we had to hoof in the snow while someone else dealt with the cops.

During the post-screening Q & A Eric was stunned that he counted only six walkouts, and Tim expressed nothing but self-deprecating apologies. Some of the questions got a little silly, like a mom asking if Tim & Eric would sign her son’s nipples, and Tim joked that, “Hey, this was Sundance, maybe ask me what my favorite Godard film is?”

As the crowd filed out, it was clear that the reaction was mixed. Die-hard fans were gleeful and already quoting the film. But one woman looked clearly disgusted and was overheard saying, “They lost me with the masturbation scene.”

Are you looking forward to checking out “Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie”? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

“This [Trailer] Must Be the Place” to watch Sean Penn as a goth rock star Nazi hunter

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By my count, it’s been almost twelve years since Sean Penn made a comedy (Woody Allen’s “Sweet and Lowdown”). Most of the work he does these days, while often excellent, is also often humorless — “The Tree of Life,” “Fair Game,” “All the King’s Men,” “The Interpreter,” “21 Grams,” and on and on. So “This Must Be the Place” is already an unusual project for Penn. But it gets even more curious when you add in the director: Paolo Sorrentino, the Italian filmmaker best known in the United States for “Il Divo,” an atmospheric drama about former Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti. Does that sound like the right team to make a movie about a bored, retired goth rock star on a quirky quest across America to find a Nazi war criminal on behalf of his dead father? With music by David Byrne?

Well they are, and they did. Penn and Sorrentino’s “This Must Be the Place” premiered last spring at the Cannes Film Festival and will make its first appearance on this side of the Atlantic at next month’s Sundance Film Festival. Here’s the trailer:

At Cannes, reviews ranged from “diverting if derivative” to “occasionally charming” to “bewildering” to “embarrassing”. Wait, derivative? Of all the other movies about zonked out Robert Smith look-alikes who go hunting Nazis?

Nevermind. According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Weinstein Company plans to release the film in March of 2012. And, of course, we’ll see if the film fares better with critics and audiences up in Park City. I hope so. Serious Sean Penn’s good, but I miss Funny Sean Penn, too. Funny Sean penn gave us Spicoli. He should flex those comedy chops a little more often.

What do you think of the trailer for “This Must Be the Place?” Give us your thoughts in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

Sundance adds premieres by Spike Lee, Stephen Frears, and more

Sundance adds premieres by Spike Lee, Stephen Frears, and more (photo)

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Just about every film at Sundance is a world premiere. So why is there a “Premieres” section, and how is it different than the Competition or the Spotlight or the New Frontiers or the NEXT or…okay, I think that’s all of them. Sundance describes Premieres as “a showcase of some of the most highly anticipated dramatic films of the coming year from new and established directors” and Documentary Premieres as “about big subjects or by master filmmakers that showcase the power of the form.”

Basically, what it really means is here’s where you find the attention-grabbers at Sundance. These are the big honking movies, the movies featuring Hollywood directors and talent coming down from their Valhalla of craft services and video village to get their hands dirty with the independents. These are the movies that have the biggest red carpets and the majority of the press coverage (see this post).

True to form, it’s a pretty star-studded Premieres lineup for 2012. Chris Rock joins Julie Delpy for “2 Days in New York,” the sequel to her 2007 film “2 Days in Paris.” “How I Met Your Mother”‘s Josh Radnor returns to Sundance, where his “Happythankyoumoreplease” was a big hit in 2009, with “Liberal Arts,” co-starring Richard Jenkins, Allison Janney, and last year’s Sundance It-Girl, Elizabeth Olsen. Director Stephen Frears reteams with his “High Fidelity” co-screenwriter D.V. Devincintis for “Lay the Favorite,” a movie about “geeky older men who have found a way to work the sportsbook system in Las Vegas to their advantage” with Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Rebecca Hall. And Spike Lee comes to Park City with “Red Hook Summer,” a story of “a young Atlanta boy [who] spends his summer in Brooklyn with his grandfather, who he’s never seen before” that also features Lee himself returning to the character Mookie that he played in “Do the Right Thing.”

On the documentary side of things, Ice-T directs “Something From Nothing” about the art of rap and “Dogtown and Z-Boys” director Stacy Peralta has a new skateboarding doc, “Bones Brigade.” But the most discussed film in the Doc Premieres will surely be Amy Berg’s “West of Memphis,” a new documentary on the infamous West Memphis 3 murders in Arkansas which premieres at Sundance the same month “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory,” the last installment in the long-running documentary series that first brought the case into the public’s consciousness, premieres on television. The New York Times recently covered the rivalry and competition between the two films for access to suspects, victims, and witnesses of the crime; read more about it there. The fact that “Paradise Lost” co-director Joe Berlinger will be at Sundance with his latest film, an untitled project on singer Paul Simon, means you are going to see a lot of questions about those two movies.

The full list of premieres is below. And you can find all our “premiere” Sundance 2012 coverage here.

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