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DID YOU READ

The Film Geek Achieves Nerd Nirvana at E3

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By Matt Singer

IFC News

Imagine Las Vegas, with the fairer half of the population replaced by dudes in Hawaiian shirts and beards, and you have a sense of the atmosphere at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3. IFC sent my
lucky geek ass to cover the event, and in that
capacity, I had opportunity to speak with legions of
grateful (and bearded) nerds, all in attendance to pay homage at the shrine of all things Xbox and PlayStation. When asked to describe the event, their praise bordered on effusive, with a sort of glazed, contented look in their eyes one generally finds in a religious zealot who believes they’ve communed with God. “What, if anything, is E3 missing?” I would invariably ask. “More women,” they would invariably reply. What few women there were were of the paid-to-be-there variety.

That zombiefied look is everywhere at E3. You’ve
never seen so many nerds so happy. Essentially, two
massive buildings are transformed into the world’s
most well carpeted arcade for three straight days.
Everywhere you look there is some other video game
vying for your attention, calling out to you with
their addictive, neon siren song. E3’s masssive halls
have the power to turn a functioning adult human male
into a sensory overloaded puppy: eyes flashing, head
turned ever so slightly, brain overwhelmed by too much
stimuli.

To be fair, as someone who is, and always has been,
a casual gamer at best, I can’t deny the intense
coolness of E3. Here is a place where you wander
around, and play video games — games that would
typically set you back in excess of fifty bucks —
and then people give you free stuff to thank you for
playing their unreleased and totally badass video
games. Who wouldn’t want to spend three days
doing that?

You might wonder why IFC would send me to an event
exclusively devoted to video games, but a quick scan
of the list of the convention’s hottest titles reads
like a list of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster
filmmakers. In recent years you could count on the
year’s biggest movies receiving their own video game
adaptations: href=”http://www.activision.com/microsite/spider-man/”> color=000000>”Spider-Man 2″ and href=”http://www.ea.com/official/lordoftherings/thebattleformiddleearth/us/home.jsp”> color=000000>”The Lord of the Rings” both hit
theaters accompanied by well-designed video games.
The massive success of the most popular games (we’re
talking billions of dollars of massive success) has
encouraged filmmakers to dip their toes in the pool;
Peter Jackson, for instance, put his name above the
title of the recent href=”http://www.kingkonggame.com/us/”> color=000000>”King Kong” game.

The latest trend seems to be skipping the movie and

simply taking film talent and making a stand-alone

game. The best example of this phenomenon at E3 was

John Woo’s video-game-only sequel to his classic

“Hard-Boiled,” “Stranglehold”. Players take

control of Chow Yun Fat’s unstoppable cop Tequila, as

he takes down the bad guys with an assortment of moves

— balletic leaps and spins, double-handgun

assaults, special attacks replete with flying doves

— straight out of the John Woo playbook.

Creators of all these sorts of games said the same

thing: movies are wonderful, but they are, to their

core, a passive medium. Video games are interactive.

If the thrill of a movie like “Hard-Boiled” is

connected to our identification with its hero, then

what does it do to our brain to get to control

the hero? Before we interviewed the game’s creators I

got a chance to play a demo of the game, and if there

is a cooler video game experience, I have yet to see

it.

Clearly, the appeal of becoming your favorite movie

star is a major selling point for the industry. You

can become Al Pacino in a new game based on “Scarface”

(one which imagines what might have happened if Tony

Montana had survived the film’s final slaughter), or

play as Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean” or

fly as Brandon Routh’s Superman in “Superman Returns:

The Video Game.” But if, as some video game creators

suggested, games could ultimately replace movies in

the hearts of Americans seeking entertainment, the

symbiotic relationship between the two is less

one-dimensional than some expressed. Basing your game

on a movie or movie stars (like the original property

“The Wheelman” starring Vin Diesel) gives you an

instant sales pitch, not to mention an air of artistic

legitimacy that numerous people I interviewed were

quick to play up. But if video games replace movies,

who will star in these video games and what will they

be based on?

Most at E3 weren’t particularly interested in

answering that question. They just wanted to play

some more, and hopefully get another free t-shirt.

Truth be told, in my weakest moments, I was one of them.

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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.