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Today’s Cannes, plus: some Tom Hanks film.

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Not yet approved by Chinese censors.
"Code"…something? L, we know it begins with L!

Yes, so, as has been well-reported, Cannes critics are, for the most part, not fond of Mr. Howard‘s latest effort. Still, no one (and you can see most current reviews here at Rotten Tomatoes) seems to take as much pleasure in their pan as the New York Times A.O. Scott, who’s apparently been spending his "book leave" sharpening his long knives in anticipation of applying them to Dan Brown:

To their credit the director and his screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman (who collaborated with Mr. Howard on "Cinderella Man" and "A Beautiful Mind"), have streamlined Mr. Brown’s story and refrained from trying to capture his, um, prose style. "Almost inconceivably, the gun into which she was now staring was clutched in the pale hand of an enormous albino with long white hair." Such language — note the exquisite "almost" and the fastidious tucking of the "which" after the preposition — can live only on the page.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Hee.

Scott may find the film too bland to be boycott-worthy, but at the Guardian‘s Culture Vulture blog, Charlotte Higgins calls for one on the basis of good taste:

Hitherto the reaction of people who should know better is a vague shrugging of the shoulders but this will no longer do. Affirmative action is required. The Da Vinci Code in both its forms, literary (literary!) and on screen, is brain-rotting rubbish. Where is our pride? Where is our dignity? Where, dammit, is our British pluck? Confiscate this book from family and friends. Boycott, nay picket, this film. And at all costs, banish it from your brain, which was built for better things. The time has come to man the barricades.

The more press stills we see, the more we’re convinced (this might also be lack of sleep) that Paul Bettany‘s albino monk Silas is rather attractive, in a murderous religious fanatic fashion. Surely that wasn’t the filmmakers’ intent? Or was it?

No, probably not.

Of other films:

Neither the Hollywood Reporter‘s Ray Bennett (who dubs it "Atmospheric but pedestrian") nor Variety‘s Derek Elley thinks much of Ken Loach‘s "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," thought Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere calls it "the first profoundly good film"of the festival (bearing in mind that it just started) and writes that "Loach’s left-wing social realist brush has never rendered anything this stirring or flat-out masterful."

Derek Kelly at Variety is lukewarm on Lou Ye‘s "Summer Palace" ("an occasionally involving but way over-stretched tapestry that plays like a French art movie in oriental dress"),  Kirk Honeycutt at the Hollywood Reporter is fond of the film, but thinks it’s "far too long."

Of omnibus film "Paris, Je T’Aime," Bennett writes that it’s a "charming collection of vignettes," and Lisa Nesselson at Variety calls it "uneven but quite pleasant," adding that "[i]nterstitial shots of Paris and coda in which certain characters cross paths don’t add much and veer dangerously close to saccharine. But project — four years in the making –avoided most pitfalls and turned out better than average." Much what you’d expect (how could it not be uneven?)…we’re curious as to what (if anything) prompted this recent spate of multi-director anthology films, which we thought had been kicked to the curb in the 60s when everyone realize they work far better in theory than in practice.


The best part of Cannes coverage (beyond when, a week in, everyone starts getting delirious and filing stories/saying things to journalists that in retrospect are unwise) are the odd, gossipy details, like Jeffrey Wells‘ observation on the infernal Cannes press passes system:

The next level below pink is blue, and the lowest-of-the-low are the yellow passes. Richard Schickel  is here doing a Cannes documentary and not a a Time critic, so he has a yellow pass. (I saw him waiting last night to see The DaVinci Code and I went over and said, "Hey, Dick…is this the pink-with-yellow-pastille line?" Schickel kind of half-scowled in his usual charming way and said, "Uhnn…no.")

Anthony Kaufman lists his "9+ Films to See at 59th Cannes."

LA Weekly‘s Scott Foundas is blogging again, and has lengthy "Code" musings.

At the Filmmaker blog, Matthew Ross has turned up a "Fast Food Nation" trailer. The film premieres tomorrow, and Janet Adamy and Richard Gibson at the Wall Street Journal report on the dozens of food trade groups prepping a media campaign against the film "to counter what one groups contends is the ‘indigestible propaganda’ [author Eric] Schlosser is spreading."

And Xan Brooks at the Guardian shares various Cannes details (including, for all who’ve been dying to know, why Tom Hanks likes Iceland) while outlining (despite the lack of Asian films at the festival in general) what he sees as increasing Chinese dominance at Cannes, and slipping in a good review of "Summer Palace."

The general consensus before last night’s screening was that a lot of the journalists would stay for the first hour and then slip away to catch the Arsenal-Barcelona cup final. But when the lights came up, two-and-a-half hours later, the auditorium was still packed to the rafters.

+ A ‘Da Vinci Code’ That Takes Longer to Watch Than Read (NY Times)
+ Code haters unite! (Guardian)
+ The Wind That Shakes the Barley (HR)
+ The Wind that Shakes the Barley (Variety)
+ The Wind that Shakes the Barley
(Hollywood Elsewhere)
+ Summer Palace (Variety)
+ Summer Palace (HR)
+ Paris, I Love You (Paris, Je t’Aime) (HR)
+ Paris je t’aime (Variety)
+ There seems to be a general downgrading of press passes this year (Hollywood Elsewhere)
+ 9+ Films to See at 59th Cannes (Anthony Kaufman’s Blog)
+ So Dark the Con of Hollywood (LA Weekly)
+ Flak Over ‘Fast Food Nation’ (Wall Street Journal)
+ Cultural revolution (Guardian)


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.