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Comedy Indie

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Comedy Indie

Insights from home entertainment industry experts. Home Media blogs give you the inside scoop on entertainment news, DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, and the happenings at key studios and entertainment retailers. “TK's Take” analyzes and comments on home entertainment news and trends, “Agent DVD Insider” talks fanboy entertainment, “IndieFile” delivers independent film news, “Steph Sums It Up” offers pithy opinions on the state of the industry, and “Mike’s Picks” offers bite-sized recommendations of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases.

January 17, 2011
Indie ‘Kids Are All Right’ Cleans Up at Golden Globes

Annette Bening in
Annette Bening in The Kids Are All Right

Independent films did exceedingly well at the 68th Annual Golden Globes, with wins for Best Picture and Best Actress (Annette Bening), Comedy or Musical, for Focus Features’ The Kids Are All Right, which is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

That film’s win again raises the question as to how films benefit by having been released on DVD before major awards shows. Crash and The Hurt Locker famously won the Best Picture Oscar over bigger movies, possibly in part due to their easy availability on disc building hype. The Kids Are All Right was released on DVD and Blu-ray by Universal Studios Home Entertainment in November of 2010. The only other film nominated here that was available on disc was Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, although that film and the other nominees (Red, The Tourist and Burlesque) didn’t exactly give Kids a run for its money, critically speaking.

Indies, in total, won eight major awards at the ceremony. The King’s Speech (The Weinstein Co.) got a Best Actor win for Colin Firth, and Barney's Version (Sony Classics) scored a Best Actor, Comedy or Musical, win for Paul Giamatti. The Weinstein Co.’s The Fighter won Best Supporting Actress (Melissa Leo) and Supporting Actor (Christian Bale), Drama. Additionally, Denmark’s In a Better World won Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Mini-Series / TV Movie went to Sundance’s Carlos.

“We applaud the independents that have won tonight in a tough race,” said Independent Film & Television Alliance President-CEO Jean Prewitt. “HFPA’s nominations and awards have again highlighted the breadth of fine film-making from both studios and independents.”

The King’s Speech (which will be released by Anchor Bay Entertainment, the first Genius title releasing by Anchor Bay after a deal signed Jan. 4), Barney’s Version (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment), The Fighter (Paramount), In a Better World (Sony Pictures) and Carlos (MPI/IFC) have yet to be slated for home video release.

By: Billy Gil

November 30, 2010
Jay and Mark Duplass Graduate to the Studio System With ‘Cyrus’

Jay and Mark Duplass
Jay and Mark Duplass

Jay and Mark Duplass spent years paying their dues in the indie world before making their way into the mainstream with Fox Searchlight’s Cyrus, coming to DVD ($29.98) and Blu-ray Disc ($39.99) Dec. 14.

The brothers recently told KCRW’s The Business that each time they reached a benchmark, such as having a short film or feature screened at Sundance, they felt the need to improve. Cyrus represents that next step, as the film was their first to feature a bigger budget (about $7 million) and wide distribution (the film went on to make about $7.5 million at the U.S. box office and more than $9.5 million worldwide).

Starring John C. Reilly, the film tells the story of a man steeped in a funk years after his wife (Catherine Keener) has left him. At her urging, he slaps himself back into reality and finds mutual attraction with a single mother (Marisa Tomei) who has baggage of her own — a 21-year-old man-child (Jonah Hill) that won’t leave her side without a fight.

The film had a basic script written by the brothers, who also co-directed, but allowed the actors to improvise lines, which were then pieced together into the final product. Essentially, the Duplass brothers maintained their mumblecore roots (a style of filmmaking featuring naturalistic actors improvising lines, as shown in their previous films, The Puffy Chair and Baghead) while working within the studio system, altering minor details when necessary and working with big-name actors.

“What we learned on this movie is we can make the kind of movies we want to make in the studio system,” Jay Duplass said. “From our perspective, it’s like, we’re just trying to make the next best movie. We wouldn’t necessarily tailor the content for studio versus indie.”

The DVD and Blu-ray releases include two alternate scenes.

“There’s definitely lots and lots of extra material,” Jay Duplass said. “We’re trying lots of different things until the lightning strikes, but sometimes we’ll do a scene two ways. … This movie could have been cut 20 different ways.”

Mark Duplass added they’d include scenes that wouldn’t change the story, but rather are different iterations of the same themes, perhaps funnier or darker.

“For us there really is no difference in the comedy and drama and where they’re rooted,” Mark said. “What Jay and I are trying to do is find very truthful moments on the set that ring true to us.”

By: Billy Gil

May 27, 2010
New Indie Titles, May 27: ‘It Came From Kuchar’ and More

It Came From Kuchar
It Came From Kuchar

Title: It Came From Kuchar
Genre: Documentary
Studio: First Run
Street Date: 6/29
Price/Format: $24.95 DVD
Reserve for purchase
Reserve on Netflix

This documentary interweaves clips of films by notorious underground filmmaking twins George and Mike Kuchar, who helped create and inspire ‘B’-movie sleaze, with interviews by fans and followers such as John Waters, Buck Henry, Atom Egoyan, Wayne Wang, Bill Griffith, Gerard Malanga, B. Ruby Rich and Guy Maddin.

Title: Machine Gun McCain
Genre: Cult/Thriller
Studio: E1/Blue Underground
Street date: 8/24
Prebook: 7/27
Price/Format: $19.98 DVD, $29.98 Blu-ray
Reserve for purchase (DVD or Blu-ray)

No, not that McCain. This 1969 Cannes favorite stars John Cassavetes as an ex-con who stages a heist after his mob employer turns on him. The film co-stars Peter Falk, Gene Rowlands, Britt Ekland and Florinda Bolkan, and features music by Ennio Morricone.

Title: An American Journey: In Robert Frank’s Footsteps
Genre: Documentary
Studio: Kino-Lorber
Street date: 8/24
Prebook date: 7/27
Price/Format: $29.95 DVD

Filmmaker Philippe Seclier traces influential photographer Robert Frank’s trips across the United States that inspired his intimate images.

Title: A Town Called Panic
Genre: Animated
Studio: Zeitgeist
Street date: 7/20
Prebook date: 6/22
Price/Format: $29.99 DVD
Reserve for purchase
Reserve on Netflix

Based on a Belgian cult TV series, three plastic toys named Cowboy, Indian and Horse share a house in a village that attracts crazy events.

Title: Lights Camera Dead/F.A.R.T. the Movie
Genre: Cult/Horror
Studio: MVD
Street date: 7/27
Price/Format: $19.95 DVD/$9.95 DVD
Reserve for purchase (Lights/F.A.R.T.)

Nope, IndieFile is not too stuffy for this: MVD Visual and SRS Cinema are releasing two cult, er, “classics.” One is about two filmmakers who will stop at nothing to finish their zombie masterpiece. The other is about a man with two passions — television and flatulence — whose passions are about to come together in a big way. Guess which description is for which film.

By: Billy Gil

May 26, 2010
SXSW Titles on IFC On Demand in June

IFC’s fertile on-demand offerings are getting two new titles that showed at the 2009 South By Southwest (SXSW) festival.

First up on Sundance Selects is Dia Sokol’s Sorry, Thanks (coming June 4). The Mutual Appreciation director tells another tale of misguided youths in their 20s, this time of a girl who’s reeling from a breakup and sleeps with a man who’s in a relationship, sparking his voyage into discovering if he is “an ass.”


Coming June 11 is SXSW grand jury prize for narrative film winner Made in China. Judi Krant’s film tells of a novelty inventor from Texas who travels to China in hopes of creating “a humorous domestic hygiene product.”

Both films will appear in the main on-demand category for such cable carriers as Comcast, Cox, Cablevision and Time Warner.

By: Billy Gil

May 06, 2010
New Indie Titles, May 6: ‘Shinjuku Incident’ and More

Title: Shinjuku Incident
Genre: Action
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Street date: 6/8
Prebook date: 5/6
Price/Format: $24.94 DVD
Reserve for purchase
Reserve on Netflix

What’s a Jackie Chan movie doing in IndieFile? Well, this one is a throwback to his classics and has been nominated for four Hong Kong Film Awards, including best picture. Chan stars as a Chinese immigrant to Japan who rises through the ranks of a black market mob to become the head of the infamous Shinjuku district. Special features include commentary on select scenes with Chan, as well as a behind-the-scenes featurette. 

Title: Fuel
Genre: Documentary
Studio: Cinema Libre
Street Date: 6/22
Prebook Date: 5/11
Price/Format: $24.95 DVD
Reserve on Netflix

The Sundance Audience Award-winning doc about alternative fuels features Sheryl Crow, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Larry David, Richard Branson and Robert Kennedy Jr.

Title: For My Father
Genre: Foreign/Thriller
Studio: Film Movement
Street date: 6/1
Price/Format: $24.95 DVD
Reserve for purchase
Reserve on Netflix

For My Father is an Israeli-German drama about a young Palestinian man on a suicide mission who finds forbidden love while awaiting the completion of his mission. It was nominated for seven Israeli Academy Awards. The Film Movement short film included on this DVD is Ali & the Ball, an Australian film about a young boy in a refugee detention center who must protect his mother and sister.

Title: Dark Arc
Genre: Dark Comedy
Studio: Vanguard
Street date: 8/24
Prebook date: 7/16
Price/Format: $19.95 DVD

A strange love triangle ensues when a visual performance artist and his muse stage visual events to influence the life of a down-to-earth graphic designer. Writer-director Dan Zukovic wrote and directed the ’90s cult film The Last Big Thing.

Title: Soundless Wind Chime
Genre: Drama/Gay/Lesbian
Studio: TLA
Street date: 6/22
Prebook: 5/25
Price/Format: $19.98 DVD
Reserve for purchase
Reserve on Netflix

This dreamlike film about a Swiss pickpocket and shy Chinese man falling in love has won numerous queer film festival awards, and it’s nice to see a low-key, atypical gay love story for a change.


By: Billy Gil


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