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“Fast Food Nation.”

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Suiting up for the kill floor.
Eric Schlosser knows that people don’t like to be preached at. His snappy bestseller is fundamentally a critique of unchecked capitalism, but told in approachably muckraking, sometimes lurid segments: fat American children (troubling!), overwhelming franchise sameness (eerie!), unsafe meatpacking factories (frightening!), underpaid teenagers (saddish!), chemical flavorings and factory-like slaughterhouses (gross!).

The decision to make "Fast Food Nation" a narrative film instead of the expected doc is, in that sense, right in line with the spirit of the book. And Richard Linklater, who’s done sprawling with effortless aplomb before, seems like a good fit as a director. But the road to tedium is paved with good intentions, and "Fast Food Nation" is a flat film, one with a fine heart and no pulse.

The film has archetypal characters standing in for each fast food-related ill, most played by someone famous or soon to be. There’s the trio of illegal immigrants who end up laboring at the slaughterhouse (Catalina Sandino Moreno, Ana Claudia Talancón, Wilmer Valderrama). There are the bored behind-the-counter teenagers (Paul Dano, Ashley Johnson). There are the complicit corporate types (Greg Kinnear, Bruce Willis). There are the college-age activists (Avril Lavigne, Lou Taylor Pucci) and the starting-to-look-a-little-drawn activists (Ethan Hawke). There are the ones in the industry, both responsible (Kris Kristofferson) and not-so-responsible (Bobby Cannavale). And on. There are no villains; everyone is equipped with a contradiction or two, which can pass as actual characterization if you squint.

"Fast Food Nation" is too sprawling and studied to engage as a narrative or a portrait of ailing working-class semi-urban life (the film is set in fictional Cody, CO, a convincing spread of autocentric Americana with strip malls instead of a downtown). Linklater seems to have suppressed his directorial urges in the interests of earnestness — it’s only when Hawke bounces in as a talky, free-spirited cabinet maker that it seems like his film at all. But if the film is meant to be more of a serviceable vehicle for a call to action (and that’s certainly seems to be the intent of the storyline surrounding Johnson’s gradually awakening high schooler), that call’s not going to reach any further than it would have as a doc. One imagines that, like the overly naive marketer played by Kinnear, most of the audience members seeing this will sigh, shake their heads, agree that it’s a terrible thing and go on, content that they, at least, get their meals from Whole Foods.

[What an odd career niche Catalina Sandino Moreno is occupying! This is the third film in which she’s offered herself up as the serenely suffering, symmetrical face of a developing-world madonna. We hope she gets to shoot someone in her next role. Ah, but likely not.]

Opens November 17th in limited release.

+ "Fast Food Nation" (Fox Searchlight)


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.