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“The Science of Sleep.”

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"I am your neighbor and a liar. By the way, do you have Zoe's number?"
Stéphane and Stéphanie, the two eccentric waifs involved in "The Science of Sleep"‘s semi-romance, are played Gael García Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg, a pairing of immense cosmopolitan charm and attractiveness. That director Michel Gondry manages to make them seem wan and unappealing is remarkable — the film is a testament to the benefits of collaboration with others.

Gondry has proven himself capable of apparently infinite visual inventiveness in his earlier films and his often brilliant music videos, and "The Science of Sleep" overflows with unforgettable set pieces, most representing the dreams of Stéphane, who has trouble distinguishing between sleep and waking life. A paper city dances outside a window; a man’s hands grow larger and larger as he tries to put together a paste-up; a ski trail is knitted together out of yarn. These scenes are all the more amazing when one takes into account that the film was made for a reported $6 million — Gondry has managed to squeeze more visual jolts out of next to nothing than, say, Gore Verbinski did with the over $200 million he got to make some pirate flick.

It’s too bad the rest of the film is such a mess. The story is "The Science of Sleep" is, Gondry has said in interviews, an autobiographical one. The film is shot in the director’s old Parisian apartment and is loosely based around his days working a dreary job in a calendar company, and, perhaps to compensate for any potential egotism of such a conceit, Gondry has written his stand-in Stéphane as a man just barely short of batshit insane. Stéphane is lured to Paris from Mexico by his mother (Miou-Miou) after the death of his father. She’s set him up with a job he expects will be more creative than it turns out to be — no one appreciates his idea of a calendar of illustrated disasters, and he’s put to work doing layouts. Rather than fall back on the typical escapes most people turn to when confronted with a dull day job (heavy drinking, TV, a side project), Stéphane takes to romancing/stalking the girl next door, Stéphanie, a sweet if barely formed character who dabbles in music and animation and has seemingly infinite patience for neurotic and infuriating behavior.

When you tilt your head the right way, you can see the story Gondry probably intended, that of tentative love blooming between two prickly, quirky young people with rich inner lives. And there are moments of that, of shabby wonder that are downright magical, from a stop-motion mechanical horse galloping around the floor of Stéphanie’s apartment to Stéphane’s strangest invention, a time machine (made out of a Speak & Spell) that sends you back only one second. But, like Stéphane, the film can’t seem to get out of its own head, and it rambles along like a disjointed anecdote that makes more sense to the teller than the tellee. Why does Stéphane ram his head into the door? What the hell does Stéphanie want, anyway? Who let Gondry write the script for his next film, "Be Kind Rewind"? We have no doubt he’ll provide ample explanation on the eventual DVD commentary, but we’d be more inclined to rewatch the film with the sound off, all the better to enjoy the prettiness.

Opens in limited release today.

+ "The Science of Sleep" (Warner Independent)


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.