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Don’t look back (you can never look back).

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"I guess if it wasn't for Sam, I'd have missed it, whatever it is."
So the bumper sticker says. And yet, in the LA Times, Peter Bogdanovich recalls and mourns the experience of going to a movie theater as if such structures were already long extinct.

Larry McMurtry‘s novel, "The Last Picture Show," and the movie version of it which I directed were both at least partly about the loss to a small Texas town of its single movie theater, a great diminishment in community and sharing. We all now live in a more insular, distanced society. And though our communication capability has never been faster or more inclusive, it does not have the ability to let us experience the silent interrelating that happens in a live theater, at church or at a movie house.

Over the years I’ve noticed that audiences, just before the show starts, radiate a kind of innocence. Considered person by person, that may not be the case, but as a group they share the ability to be taken wherever the film chooses to take them, either to the stars or the gutter, and their communal experience will alter them for better or worse. Let’s not let all that possibility fade away further than it already has.

James Parker at the Boston Globe muses that "We enjoy watching B-movies because life is a B-movie: life, with its ungroomed edges, its humdrum pauses, its inability to sustain an atmosphere or be wholly convinced by a plotline." He revisits the original "The Hills Have Eyes," and lists what the slickly made, pseudo-meaningful Alexandre Aja remake has lost.

At the Guardian‘s Culture Vulture blog, Xan Brooks takes umbrage with two other remakes, the Coen brothers"Ladykillers" and Neil LaBute‘s upcoming "The Wicker Man," for what he sees as lack of respect and understanding from the respective directors for the British originals:

[D]ismissing [1955’s] "The Ladykillers" as "genteel" totally misses the point of what a nasty, vicious and downright subversive animal it really is. Small wonder the Coen brothers remake was so bland and redundant (and yes, genteel). I’m betting the new, improved "Wicker Man" won’t be much cop either.

David Gritten at the Telegraph uses the occasion of "The White Countess"‘s UK release to look back at Merchant Ivory’s heyday, and outline how the company’s time has passed.

Film audiences have maintained their taste for costume drama, but not for the reticent manner in which Merchant Ivory presented it. Three films made in Britain, all adaptations of Jane Austen, hammered the point home. Roger Michell‘s "Persuasion," originally made for television, brought dirty realism and muddied hems to period pieces. Ang Lee‘s "Sense and Sensibility" located a strain of desperate emotion and gave it full expression. And last year Working Title infused "Pride and Prejudice" with a healthy dose of adolescent lust.

All three films work because they engage audiences on a visceral level. These days, all manner of films, struggling to compete in a crowded entertainment industry, aim to deliver a big-screen jolt unavailable from other media. "Hip", "dark" and "edgy" are the adjectives of choice among film marketing types – but Merchant Ivory are simply not in that business. Film culture has moved away from them: those who warmly embraced the pace and flow of the recent "Pride and Prejudice" would never sit still for their conventional and frankly uninvolving adaptation of Henry James’s "The Golden Bowl."

At the Independent, James Mottram, whose "The Sundance Kids: How The Mavericks Took Back Hollywood" comes out in May, casts an eye back on what is, give or take a director or two, David Gritten’s "Class of ’99," and declares it done — those wacky late 90s Sundance darlings have brought their "maverick sensibilities" to Hollywood, and now loom large and heedlessly hip over Tinseltown. It’s a sunshiny take that willfully ignores certain details, such as the fact that David Fincher hasn’t managed to squeeze a film out in four years. At the New York Daily News, meanwhile, Jack Mathews reexamines his prediction back in 1983 ("For a while, I was a sage.") that the animated film as a genre was on its way out. 23 years and billions of dollars later, he’s willing to admit he might have been a little hasty.

Finally, back at the LA Times, Mimi Avins on how Sharon Stone‘s "iconoclastic bitch-goddess" Catherine Tramell has held up (and changed) in the 14 years between "Basic Instinct" and "Basic Instinct 2."

In 1992, who’s on top, men or women, was still a question. In the "Basic Instinct" sequel, there’s no contest. Catherine today is a man-eating cartoon. She’s smarter and more dangerous than any man she encounters. And she definitely can’t be trusted. Although the script was written by a husband-and-wife team, the film has moved from a tale of masculine backlash to one of capitulation.

+ Moving pictures (LA Times)
+ Scare me once. Scare me twice. (Boston Globe)
+ Repeat offenders (Guardian)
+ Why we should love and leave the world of Merchant Ivory (Telegraph)
+ Maverick directors enjoy their day in the sun (Independent)
+ Back to the drawing board (NY Daily News)
+ Feminism after the fact (LA Times)


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.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

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:


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.


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!


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.


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.



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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GIFs via Giphy

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.”


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. 


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.