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DID YOU READ

Brokeback in Baby’s Arms.

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"That sounds VERY manly!"Rejected headlines: Baby Got Brokeback, Brokeback to the Future, If It Ain’t Brokeback, Don’t Fix It, It’s All Coming Brokeback to Me Now.

We apologize if we’re a little irregular and scattered over the next few weeks — one of our colleagues left and we’re picking up her workload until they hire someone else, which is kind of putting a damper on our blogging schedule.

We’ve finally made it to the week of the most-hyped film of the year thus far — "Brokeback Mountain" is beloved to nearly all who’ve written about it as yet, and while we didn’t think it was perfect, we certainly liked it lots ourself. We’re in the process of writing a review with Matt to post later in the week, but in the meantime, a few thoughts:

We don’t buy David Thomson‘s half tongue-in-cheek thoughts that this is the grand cowboy-on-cowboy romance that was always waiting to burst out from beneath the coded subtext of "Rio Bravo," "Red River" and "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (well, okay, scratch that last one), but "Brokeback Mountain" does derive much of its significant power from how it toys with that particularly cinematic American icon: the taciturn, masculine, denim-clad cowboy. The film is a romance between two people who stumble into a great love and simply don’t have the words for it. Heath Ledger, whose performance is every bit as good as it’s been talked up to be, plays Ennis as a man who can hardly find it in him to participate in conversation, much less be open in a relationship, and he’s heartbreaking, particularly in the scene when he first says goodbye to Jake Gyllenhaal‘s Jack. After rebuffing Jack’s attempt for a "same time, next year," he send him off with a nod, and then, after watching him drive away, runs to throw up in an alley and bloody his knuckles against the side of the building. Violence, physicality, and, with a refreshing lack of coyness, sex, are all things that come far more easily than words to Ennis. It’s the best inarticulate screenplay we can think of.

Also, it’s inherent to a romance to have interference — if people live happily ever after in the first half hour of a film, what are you going to fill the next 60-90 minutes with? And so misunderstandings occur, wacky hi-jinks ensue, one party thinks the other party can’t stand them, or is already attached, or is…something. In a way, "Brokeback Mountain" has more in common with, oh, "Pride & Prejudice" than any other recent romance we can think of, because at least in Austen, below all of the plot happenings, there is always the very real problem of societal differences to overcome. For years since the fading away of the aristocracy, filmmakers have wracked their brains to come up with new reasons for why two people would have such trouble making a connection when they ostensibly are in love, and here we finally arrive at what must be the unforced, undeniable obstacle of any tragic romance writer’s dreams. Love is never the issue in "Brokeback"; at the same time, we see the world Jack and Ennis live in, and never doubt that, even if they got to walk off into the sunset, hand in hand, it’d be impossible for them to live happily ever after.

Anyway, at indieWIRE, Strand Releasing’s Marcus Hu discusses waiting on the film since he first read the short story in 1997:

Personally, even after four viewings, I still get a lump in my throat by the film’s conclusion. While the "New Queer Cinema" has produced some substantial GLBT films, this film just feels like an intelligent, smart piece of cinema that happens to have at its core a gay love story.

At the Chicago Tribune, Robert K. Elder sums up post-screening questions fielded by Ang Lee and producer James Schamus, while Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times (link via Ray Pride at Movie City Indie) takes a look at "Brokeback" and Tommy Lee Jones"Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada" as neo-neo-Westerns.

+ First Person: Marcus Hu on "Brokeback Mountain" (indieWIRE)
+ Lee sees his ‘Brokeback Mountain’ as a unifying force (Chicago Tribune)
+ The Cowboy rides again (Financial Times)

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.