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Oscars: Further “Crash” bashing, “Tsotsi”…poking?

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"You think you know who you are?" Mr. Reese Witherspoon, that's who.
There’s nothing left for us to say but: We wish we could quit "Crash."

As entertainment reporters feverishly twitch over their keyboards, critics slaughter their neighbors’ cats and study the entrails for further insights into the close races, and we near the end of the Oscar countdown, Cara Mia DiMassa at the LA Times is left to resort to talking to members of the non-film community about their opinions on Paul Haggis‘ front-runner:

Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton has seen the film three times, and encouraged the deputy chief in charge of LAPD’s professional standards to pass copies around the department. But Joe Hicks, the longtime African American community activist, believes the movie so distorts the state of race relations that it could hurt Los Angeles’ reputation.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa loved the movie. His lawyer, a former member of the county Human Relations Commission, hated it.

So basically, some people really like it, and others really don’t. For a more resolved take on the film, we recommend Matt Zoller Seitz‘s lengthy, smart piece on why "Crash" is hurting America:

Haggis’ depiction of modern race consciousness is so wrongheaded in so
many ways that the film’s critical and financial success might actually
inflict damage on the culture, by making apoplectic, paranoid racism
seem like the norm and encouraging audience members (particularly the
young) to think Haggis is tearing off society’s mask and showing how
things really are, all of which will allow those same ticket buyers to
feel superior to the people in the movie and think themselves incapable
of "real" racism, the type depicted in "Crash."

And in an interview with Dan Persons here at IFC News, Three 6 Mafia (of "It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp" — every time we read that title, we think of the Dave Chappelle "I Know Black People" skit ("Is pimping easy?"), which may sum up all of "Hustle & Flow"‘s buying into its own bullshit. Still, we hope the song wins — who wouldn’t?) reveal that they’re pulling for "Crash."

And "Tsotsi" is now bearing the burden of being the favorite to win Best Foreign Language Film despite no one thinking it’s that spectacular of a film. David Edelstein in discussion with Lynda Obst at New York:

I have this theory about what wins the foreign-film Academy Award most
years. You start with a movie that feels really alien—the average Oscar
voter says, "What is this? Where am I? I can’t handle this." And then
gradually, the recognizable Hollywood formula kicks in, so by the end
they’re saying, "Who’s the director’s agent?" "Tsotsi" is set in a South
African shantytown and opens with a horrifying murder. The main
character has a face that’s unreadable at first—hard and cold, yet with
a trace of androgyny that suggests something more complex and
unresolved. Well, he steals a car and ends up with a baby and finds the
meaning of Christmas, etc. At test screenings there were standing
ovations. Oscar bait doesn’t come any more tempting.

Rory Carroll at the Guardian oddly takes "Tsotsi"’s pivotal carjacking as an excuse to offer up a history of the crime in South Africa, and tips on what to do if your car is hijacked in South Africa. We like: "If about to be shot turn to the side, reducing the target you present by a third. Lift your shoulders and pull your neck in. Do not turn your back – the front of your body has more bone and rib-cage to protect your internal organs."

Andrew O’Hehir‘s rather cynical in his "Beyond the Multiplex" column for Salon this week, which tackles the neutering of the Foreign Language Film category and the lifelong boringness of the Documentary category before looking at this year’s nominees. He’s one of the few we’ve come across who thinks "Sophie Scholl" will win (he’s also going against the penguin to predict "Murderball" will pull through among the docs). O’Hehir also takes to task Emma Forrest‘s poorly reporter Observer article on the "Paradise Now" fuss (a story that, in general, we’ve found so infuriating we’ve basically chosen to just ignore it).

The Observer article, which helpfully never asks Abu-Assad or anyone else involved with "Paradise Now" about their intentions, goes on to say that the real problem with Saïd’s character is Nashef‘s "Hollywood looks," which create an atmosphere of "sexy jihad" around his attack. His friend Khaled (Ali Suliman) evidently refuses to commit mass murder because he’s insufficiently hot. "Paradise Now" has less chance than it ever did of winning an Oscar (and it never had much). But that article deserves an award for cultural journalism at its most distinctively odious, combining slipshod reporting with half-baked postmodern theorizing. Congratulations!

And at his New York Times Carpetbagger blog, Dave Carr, in a delirium of packing and Oscar fatigue, spews out all of his dislikes about Oscar coverage.

+ Differing Views of Race in L.A. Collide in ‘Crash’ (LA Times)
+ Anything but this (The House Next Door)
+ In the footsteps of "Shaft": Three 6 Mafia talks bringing the Memphis sound to the Oscars (IFC News)
+ The Pre-Show Game (New York)
+ Carjacking: the everyday ordeal testing South Africa (Guardian)
+ Beyond the Multiplex (Salon)
+ Rant, The Musical (NY 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.