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DID YOU READ

NYFF: “The Journals of Knud Rasmussen.”

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"We believe happy people should not worry about hidden things."
The immediate thrill of Zacharias Kunuk‘s two films, 2001’s "The Fast Runner" and this year’s "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen" (which he co-directed with Norman Cohn), is anthropological. For most of us, the world they depict is an exquisitely alien one of unbroken white vistas and pervasive, almost corporeal cold in which the idea eking out any existence, much less the culturally rich and happy one of "Journals," is hard to fathom. Kunuk knows this, and a good portion of the film is dedicated to taking in the otherwise unchronicled rhythms of traditional Inuit life.

"Journal" is in fact based on the work of an anthropologist — the half-Inuit, half-Danish Rasmussen, who in the 1920s traveled the Canadian Arctic gathering details for maps and documenting tribal customs and folklore of different tribes. He published some of the definitive research texts on Inuit culture, which at the time of film’s setting, 1922, was already being threatened by encroaching European culture and Christian missionaries. The film’s central pair, the great shaman Avva and his beautiful, willful daughter Apak, live at historical turning point for their people.

At the beginning of the film, Rasmussen meets up with Avva and his family. He has with him two other Danes (one played by "Pusher"‘s Kim Bodnia) who are hoping to negotiate travel to Iglulik, where Avva is from and where he left after the community converted to Christianity. And after that, Rasmussen disappears almost unheralded, which is one of the other exciting, and sometimes irritating aspects of Kunuk’s work. He’s a self-taught filmmaker, and his approach has an abandon and a disregard for typical narrative signposting and structure that can be rewarding and can other times just confusing.

"Journals" may not be as coherent or accessible as "The Fast Runner," but it is still a fascinating and deeply compassionate film. Pakak Innukshuk in particular as Avva is a figure of quiet tragedy, the lone holdout standing by traditions that are thousands of years old and suddenly unwanted. He delivers a wonderful monologue explaining how he became a shaman that shifts into a justification of the rules that have for so long governed how his people have lived, and he stands alone in the end, in what is one of the most mournful scenes in recent cinema.

The cast of "Journals" consists mainly of non-professional actors, and the film (shot on DV) sometimes has the feel of documentary, by necessity as much as intent — you can’t plan around a arctic blizzard. In another scene during a celebration, a character dressed up in a costume and dancing turns around and walks smack into the camera. Everyone laughs, but there’s never a feeling of breaking through the fourth wall. It’s more that the line between acting and living fades, and maybe it was never that important anyway.

Screens October 8 and 9 at Alice Tully Hall.

+ "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen" (NYFF)

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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.