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DID YOU READ

TIFF in pieces.

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"A true story of survival... declassified."
We don’t see ourselves covering Toronto anytime soon — a good thing, because when we look over the festival we’re seized with an overwhelming sense of panic. So! Many! Movies! We imagine rushing around trying to fit in seven screenings a day and staying up all night attempting to write them up, and by day three turning up dead in a Canadian gutter, the paramedics forced to use the Jaws of Life to pry the laptop out of our cold hands.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of Toronto coverage out there. Lots of snippets:

At indieWIRE, Anthony Kaufman writes that "With many of Hollywood’s biggest offerings bombing here in Toronto (stay away from ‘A Good Year’ and ‘All the King’s Men’), critics have sought solace in half a dozen already proven Cannes favorites (‘Volver,’ ‘Climates,’ ‘Babel’) and a number of smaller, newer foreign discoveries and documentaries." That seems to be the general sentiment at the festival midpoint; Kaufman highlights three death-centric films, Bahman Ghobadi‘s "Half Moon," Roger Michell‘s "Venus," and Danish newcomer Peter Schønau Fog‘s "The Art of Crying."

Wesley Morris at the Boston Globe finds the prevailing message of the festival seems to be less death than the fact that "The world is a mess"; he’s one of many greatly (and surprisingly, given the relatively good reception at Cannes) unhappy with Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu‘s "Babel." He’s also not alone in disliking Marc Forster‘s Charlie Kaufman-lite "Stranger Than Fiction" and speaking well of "Shortbus." At the Globe‘s Movie Nation blog, Scott Heller‘s also reeling from the Forster film, but recommends Guy Maddin‘s "Brand Upon the Brain!”: "It’s very very Maddin (inky B&W, a Grand Guignol plot, overheated dialogue, juvenile jokiness) but delicious nonetheless."

David Poland is disappointed by the whole festival: "there just aren’t enough festival films to fill the schedule with quality right now." Peter Bowen at the Filmmaker blog also feels the malaise, allowing that "It is not that the films are bad; just not exciting."

At the Risky Biz blog, Anne Thompson reports on Michael Moore‘s "Sicko" preview, which was plagued with technical difficulties: "Word is, Moore was so angry with what ["Borat" director Larry] Charles called their ‘bad techno-karma’ that he treated the Toronto staff rudely and refused to speak to fest director Noah Cowan."

Speaking of "Borat," the premiere that wasn’t has been well documented: Jason Chow at the LA Times has a full account of Sasha Baron Cohen‘s always-in-character entrance and press encounters:

Are you propagating bigotry in the film? "Yeah." How will the movie affect Kazakhstan’s international reputation? "I hope it will help the people know about Kazakhstan and know that we are now a civilized country like everyone else…. Homosexuals do not have to wear blue hats and the age of consent has been raised to 11 years old."

Projection problems halted the film less than halfway though: "[Michael] Moore, a former projectionist, went up to the booth and attempted to solve the problem, but the filmmaker soon left the booth shaking his head, saying there wasn’t much he could do."

David Poland, catching the film’s full airing the next night (his third viewing) clearly is a fan, and willing to argue for Cohen’s Oscar chances: "This is, in its raw way, Chaplin or Tati."

Film Freak Central‘s Bill Chambers writes of "The Host": "I’m no scholar of the Man in Suit genre, but I feel pretty confident in saying that this is the pinnacle of giant-monster cinema.

Back at the Risky Biz blog, Sheigh Crabtree posts two video clips from the "Rescue Dawn" Q&A with Werner Herzog and Christian Bale. Brian Brooks at indieWIRE reports that MGM has acquired all North American rights for the film.

Mack at Twitch reviews (and likes) teen horror film "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane," which MovieWeb notes was picked up by The Weinstein Company for its Dimension Films arm. The Weinsteins also bought the rights to doc "Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show." Elsewhere on the otherwise relatively quiet doc front, TIFF’s Doc Blog has a note from the premiere of AJ Schnack‘s "Kurt Cobain: About a Son":

Cobain‘s impact on our culture could be felt in the line-up outside, as fans waited for hours in the rush line hoping to see the film. Inside the theatre, the presence of [journalist Michael] Azerrad and photography legend Charles Peterson echoed their tremendous support for the project, as did the contributions to the amazing soundtrack for the film. Azerrad, seeing the film for the first time tonight, said that one thing this film does do for him is give him a sense of closure.

Arthur Spiegelman at Reuters reports on the premiere of Gabriel Range‘s controvery-courting "Death of a President," which depicts the assassination of George W. Bush in the style of a TV documentary. "The 93-minute film’s subject matter has led to many protests in the United States, especially from conservatives. Range said he has received five or six death threats." Range claims to be on the verge of closing a US distribution deal for the film.

A few more reviews: Dave Kehr on Manoel de Oliveira‘s "sequel" to Bunuel‘s "Belle de jour" ("another of the great Portuguese director’s memory films"); Kehr on Jia Zhang-ke‘s "Dong" ("a companion piece to his fictional feature ‘Still Life’"). Girish Shambu reviews Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s "Climates," Corneliu Porumboiu‘s "12:08 East Of Bucharest" and Aki Kaurismäki‘s "Lights In The Dusk."

And at the Miami Herald‘s Reeling blog, Rene Rodriguez writes "The best movie I’ve seen in Toronto thus far isn’t even playing at the festival." He caught a sneak preview of Scorsese‘s "The Departed": "[T]his is Scorsese’s best and most invigorating work since the underrated Casino, if not GoodFellas, as well as his most sheerly entertaining."

An update: Newmarket Films (who also distributed "The Passion of the Christ") bought the US rights for "Death of a President" for a reported $1 million.

+ "Half Moon," "Venus," "Art of Crying" Focus on Death; "Escape" and "Fire" Get Political (indieWIRE)

+ At Toronto film fest, some nuggets amid the overhyped (Boston Globe)
+ Toronto Day 3 (Boston Globe: Movie Nation)
+ September 11, 2006 (The Hot Button)
+ OH CANADA! (Filmmaker Blog)
+ Toronto Diary (Risky Biz)
+ Splashy Entry, but About That Exit, Borat… (LA Times)
+ BORAT II (The Hot Blog)
+ My TIFF So Far (FilmFreakCentral)
+ Video: Herzog, Bale in ‘Rescue Dawn’ Q&A at TIFF06 (Risky Biz)
+ "Rescue Dawn" Flies to MGM for North America (indieWIRE)
+ TIFF Report: All The Boys Love Mandy Lane Review (Twitch)
+ Weinstein Buys Up Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show and All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (MovieWeb)
+ Kurt Cobain Speaks Out at TIFF (TIFF Doc Blog)
+ Controversial "Death of a President" film debuts (Reuters)
+ Belle Toujours (Manoel de Oliveira, 2006, Toronto Film Festival) (DaveKehr.com)
+ Dong (Jia Zhang-ke, 2006, Toronto Film Festival) (DaveKehr.com)
+ Toronto Journal 1: Climates, etc. (GirishShambu.com)
+ A dazzling "Departed" (Miami Herald: Reeling)

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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.