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DID YOU READ

Odds: Friday – Hasty weekend edition.

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"Because life is the way we audition for God; / Let us pray that we all get the job."We scored an 8/10 on the Guardian‘s remakes quiz — if you did better, don’t let us know.

Both J. Hoberman in the Village Voice and Caryn James in the New York Times look back on the complicated four-film span of Elaine May‘s directorial career (which infamously ended with "Ishtar" in 1987) on the occasion of the Film Society at Lincoln Center’s "Focus On Elaine May" retrospective. Hoberman:

Elaine May is…a director who—film for film—has to be considered alongside her more prolific peers Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. Or maybe, given the brazen auteurism of her movies, alongside somewhat younger representatives of the (old) New Hollywood like Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma. But really, May is sui generis: the only major Hollywood director of the much mythologized ’70s who happened to be female.

James apparently would disagree:

It would be hard to find four works less like one another than the sparkling comedy "A New Leaf" (1971), the gritty and dark "Mikey and Nicky," the crowd-pleasing "Heartbreak Kid" (1972) and the crowd-dispersing "Ishtar." She does not have, and hasn’t gone for, the instantly recognizable style that a director like Woody Allen has. And while she may not be a natural filmmaker, she is a natural artist who collided with the financial realities of Hollywood, as her rampant perfectionism often led to budget overruns, feuds with the studios and lawsuits that flew both ways.

Ella Taylor has a great essay on families in film and on TV in LA Weekly:

Coming from a family that kept such a tight lid on its emotions, I’ve
always had a soft spot for that maligned and neglected form, the
melodrama. Watching old movies on television when I was a teenager, I
throbbed with schadenfreude as the rich clans in Orson Welles’ "The
Magnificent Ambersons"
and "Citizen Kane" went down in flames of jealousy
and bile. With my mother, I guzzled 1940s maternal melodramas on TV,
glancing cagily sideways at her as Claude Rains’ psychiatrist counseled
Bette Davis’ helpless Charlotte in "Now, Voyager" to "Stick to your guns
without firing" when her demanding mater (a virago who made my own
strong-minded mum look like Mrs. Miniver) threatened to overwhelm her.
I thrilled to Charlotte’s liaison with married Paul Henreid and her
stealthy nurturing of his child, and fantasized myself as both mother
and daughter in some similarly boho domestic arrangement. In the 1970s,
when American movies were dominated by paranoid political thrillers, I
was wondrously creeped out by the insidious clans in "The Godfather"
Parts I and II, with their taciturn patriarchs and sidelined
matriarchs, their bursts of futile resentment and rebellion. Melodrama,
a form too lush and intense for our low-key, therapeutic age and yet
peculiarly suited to the emotive mess that is family life today, is
long overdue for a splashy comeback, and I had high hopes for a rebirth
when Todd Haynes’ wonderfully florid Douglas Sirk homage, "Far From
Heaven"
(2002), tore down the 1950s suburban family from its pedestal
and recast it as a viper’s nest riddled with mendacity and
self-deception. No one (unless you count Andrew Jarecki‘s "Capturing the
Friedmans,"
a tale of one family’s sexual malignancy all the more
powerful for being a documentary) followed up, though, and it may be a
sign of our evasive times, and the poverty of genre cinema, that the
nearest thing I’ve seen to a powerful melodrama that addresses the way
the secrets and lies of family life bubble up, unbidden, at the worst
possible moments, even in the most silent and laconic of families, is
last year’s "Junebug" — a comedy.

Speaking of, at Film Stew, Brett Buckalew discusses how Amy Adams‘ performance in "Junebug" and Catherine Keener‘s in "Capote" (both are up for Best Supporting Actress) restore depth and dignity to the often-not character of Southern women on film.

Quote to dwell on for the closing ceremonies, from Seth Stevenson last week at Slate:

When I hear about skiing over "moguls," I half expect the competitors to be racing not over artificial snow mounds but rather over the supine torsos of Ron Perelman and Harvey Weinstein. I picture the well-fed executives compressed farther down into the snow as each racer slides his ski-tips up and across their bespoke-suited midsections. By midway through the event, a small trail of blood runs down the slope from Weinstein’s abdomen. Stray Italian dogs enter the course and lap at the red-tinged ice as the film exec moans in agony.

+ The (original) remakes quiz (Guardian)
+ May Days (Village Voice)
+ The Fireworks of Elaine May (NY Times)
+ Family Viewing (LA Weekly)
+ Southern Womanhood (Film Stew)
+ How To Watch the Winter Olympics (Slate)

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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.