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DID YOU READ

Looking back fondly on the days of antagonism.

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"Pink" is the new blech.
20th Century Fox decided against having press screenings for "The Pink Panther" before opening the film in the UK, probably because of the lousy reviews the film generated in the US. While this practice is nothing new here (first there’s the marketing blitz for the movie that’s clearly terrible, people are intrigued enough to give it a decent opening weekend, there’s severe drop-off next weekend due to word-of-mouth, but by that time the next big title is on its way, and all the while we hapless film dorks clutch our Jonathan Rosenbaum reviews and our eBayed Hou Hsiao Hsien DVDs and fume at our own economic insignificance), it’s enough of a rarity in Britain to prompt at least two "what’s it all about?" pieces. David Thomson at the Independent takes the high road, deriding the fact that newspaper rely on advertising:

The real relationship between the movies and the press consists of advertising and listings – and listings are a hard-core version of advertising. Film distributors have never understood why newspapers run reviews and ads. Isn’t it inconsistent? And they are right. For if the papers want to keep on getting movie advertising, they need to subscribe to the overall lie that the movies are worth seeing. In many markets, film critics with high standards have simply lost their jobs because they didn’t like enough pictures.

Philip French at the Observer sees the opposite problem — he claims that critics have no pull anymore, and that the big film studios could really care less about what they write, if they write anything.

Sadly perhaps, there is no longer any serious antagonism between critics, film distributors and moviemakers. Long gone are the days when film companies tried to silence Milton Shulman by withdrawing advertising from the Evening Standard. Or MGM told the BBC that E Arnot Robertson was unfit to review their films. She lost a libel action because the BBC didn’t stop employing her and the appeal court judges thought MGM might be justified in thinking her unqualified by reason of her professed elitism. Tony Richardson told critics in 1968 that if they wanted to review "The Charge of the Light Brigade" they’d have to queue in Leicester Square like everyone else, and we did.

We’re not sure how we feel about this increasing disregard for critics from the studios — we feel like we should get all huffy and "blah blah should have a right to review everything! blah blah criticism blah art blah," but honestly, the economic reasons for not offering "The Pink Panther" to the press make perfect sense: why spend several hundred thousand on advance screenings that will result in the film being shredded in every broadsheet in the country when you could spend that money on advertising to reach more people, many of whom aren’t rushing to read the reviews each week anyway. We’d rather see the papers retaliate by not giving the films any coverage — if they won’t let anyone comment on the quality of the film, for chrissakes, why bother running the same old interview with star Steve Martin when there are plenty of other, better films to bring attention to?

Addendum: We put a link to this below but didn’t get around to mentioning it: the LA TimesPatrick Goldstein writes about "slivercasting" and the fact that services like Netflix, through the ease of putting things in one’s queue on a whim (as opposed to specifically picking something up at a video store) and sending recommendations to friends, is doing wonders for getting indie films seen. Power to the people, yo.

+ Film Studies: Lights, camera, ads – and no room for the critics (Independent)
+ Who hid the Pink Panther? (Observer)
+ Netflix Levels the Movie Rental Field (LA 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.