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DID YOU READ

Semi-daily.

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"I'll see you at the parent-teacher conference."
We’ve been out of commission this week (er, "The Henry Rollins Show" and "Samurai 7," premiering tomorrow) but we thought we’d take a sec to babble about a few of this week’s releases.

Oh, hell, we just want to talk about "Brick," because we’re totally infatuated. At first blush, it’s easy to write off Rian Johnson‘s debut as gimmicky — it is. They’re high school kids, but they spout dialogue out of the hokiest 40s film noir. Locker numbers replace phone numbers, a minivan (with a lamp inside) stands in for a limo, the administration (naturally) becomes the law. The details are cute, but alone, they’d barely be enough to base a short on. What’s remarkable about "Brick," and what makes it so hugely enjoyable, is that in creating the film’s weird world, Johnson has managed to free it from the chokehold of irony.

True noir is near impossible these days — all of the visual signifiers that define it are so loaded that they’re near useless. You can’t have a femme fatale slink in on narrow heels, sucking on a cigarette anymore, because all that carries across is that she must have caught a late airing of "The Glass Key" the night before. Neo noir comes armed with the inevitable wink and nudge — in next week’s awful "Lucky Number Slevin," characters name-check films in lieu of character development (Lucy Liu stops just short of making herself a Nora Charles baby tee, but Josh Hartnett takes to a James Bond comparison a little too easily for an apparently dopey guy — ooh, spoiler alert). "Brick" is nothing neo at all — it’s a straight-faced throwback to the kind of convoluted storyline that had Howard Hawks wiring Raymond Chandler to figure out who killed Owen Taylor, only to be told that he didn’t know either. Because, after all, it’s the process of looking, and events unfolding, that was always more interesting than the wrap-up. The baby-faces of "Brick"’s plucked-from-TV cast (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, slowly freeing himself from "Third Rock from the Sun," Emilie de Ravin of "Lost," "Everwood"‘s Nora Zehetner) turn out to be well-suited to Johnson’s muttered machinations and heated declarations, because, well, when else in your life besides high school can you howl, with all angst and seriousness, "I couldn’t hack a life with you!"

There’s a gleeful enjoyment to these scenes, to the ones where Gordon-Levitt’s loner Brendan smart-asses the school’s jock aristocracy, or takes a beating just because he can’t bring himself to back down, or when Meagan Good vamps it up impossibly more in each scene until she delivering acid-tipped lines in full kabuki make-up, but what really works about "Brick" is its big, bleeding romantic heart. Even the bleakest noir, at its core, was filled with some kind of weary hope for the best, paired inevitably with the certainty that the world always disappoints.

And while we’re here —Jeff Feuerzeig‘s "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" is also very good  — a portrait of the artist as a manic-depressive novelty. We’re not so convinced of Johnson’s genius as a musician or an artist, and there are occasions where the regard of his "outsider" status comes across as a bit ghoulish (something he seems aware of  — he would stop taking his medication several days before playing a show), but the kaleidoscope of browned-around-the-edges footage from Johnson’s youth and onwards is amazing, as are the interviews with his loving, long-suffering parents.

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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.