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DID YOU READ

The week’s critic wrangle: Better late than never.

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"Mrs. Miniver Meets Chewbacca."Wanted to pop our head in for a quick overview of Steven Shainberg‘s "imaginary portrait," the most noteworthy film of a not-so-noteworthy but certainly release-heavy week.

+ "Fur": "’Fur’ is a folly, though not a dishonorable one," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times. For her, a major problem is the present of Nicole Kidman, "whose talent cannot obscure that she has been grievously miscast and left to indulge her mannered coyness." David Denby, at the New Yorker, points out in our favorite review of the film that "The movie is meant to be an erotically charged version of ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ but it comes off as Mrs. Miniver Meets Chewbacca." Hah! But really:

[T]he filmmakers behind “Fur” sentimentalize Arbus, bringing her back into the comfort zone of a woman who is more sensitive than other people to the trials of the unfortunate–exactly the kind of soft fifties liberalism that she knocked to pieces with her conquering stare.

The thing is, "Fur" is interesting — as Dana Stevens concedes in an otherwise scornful review at Slate, "if you see it with a smart friend, it’s a blast to hash over afterward." Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly calls the film "a truly boggling sophomore slump, one of those infamous second-act follies, like Steven Soderbergh‘s Kafka, made by a director blinded with ego and overreach." Armond White at the New York Press sighs that "Shainberg proposes that the freakish images that give many viewers pause about Arbus’ photography mirrored Arbus’ view of her own freakiness. That’s not romanticism; it’s sentimentality." He finds Kidman an actress who "is as expressive as an automaton model and whose career is distinguished by little talent, poor taste and huge ambition."

David Edelstein at New York notes of the moment when Diane begins her building wanderings:

What a change in the color scheme! The Arbuses’ flat is all cream and ash and oak, with occasional dabs of pale (Fiestaware) mustard, blue, and pink; whereas Lionel’s den explodes with lurid greens and crimsons and a dwarf. Hold on, sorry–a dwarf isn’t a color. Well, come to think of it, he is a color. And so are the giant and the woman with no arms. They’re not characters, anyway. They’re décor.

At the Village Voice, J. Hoberman compares the film to "Secretary" and finds it similar but seriously lacking: "Fur uses a similar tale of successfully sublimated masochism to dramatize Arbus’s artistic awakening. In this case, though, the scenario is both foolishly allegorical and painfully literal-minded." Nick Pinkerton at indieWIRE allows that though "slim credit is due to ‘Fur’ for showing enough restraint to leave alone the most sensationalistic aspects of Arbus’s life (I’m saying this about a movie that shows her shaving, then fucking a dogman…), there’s just nothing to recommend here."

On the fonder side, Stephanie Zacharek at Salon
finds the film a kind of flawed but "fancifully embroidered tapestry of
wishful thinking," one more generous than she thinks its subject
deserves. And Scott Foundas at LA Weekly writes that "much of the film is as strange and oddly beautiful as one of Arbus’ own photographs, bold in its attempt to find new ways of cracking the biopic chestnut and sensitive in its portrayal of a 1950s woman who, like so many of her contemporaries, finds herself imprisoned in a Good Housekeeping nightmare."

 

[Actually, we’d also like to note that "Linda, Linda, Linda," one of our favorite films from this year’s New York Asian Film Festival, is playing at the ImaginAsian theater, and should be seen by all.]

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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.