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NYFF: “Actresses.”

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"It's summer and I'm in love."
[A note: "Actresses" has just been picked up by IFC First Take. We’ve generally tried to avoid reviewing films that will be distributed by our sister company for obvious reasons, but, given that First Take is handling like, 99% of the NYFF line-up at this point, we’re setting that rule aside for now and you can take this with as large a grain of salt as you require.]

Method acting is a form of insanity. Valeria Bruni Tedeschi should know; she’s been acting in films for over two decades. In "Actresses," her second effort as a director, she prods the malleable, unstable temperaments of those who choose to spend their lives contorting their personalities into those of fictional characters by way of a stage production of Turgenev’s "A Month in the Country." Bruni Tedeschi, who co-wrote the film with Noémie Lvovsky and Agnès de Sacy, stars as Marcelline, an established actress who’s turning 40 and whose inner voice of sanity is getting drowned out by the ticking of her biological clock, or maybe the naggings of her pragmatic mother (Marysa Borini), whose patience for Marcelline’s romanticism and lifelong girlishness is wearing thin. In following "A Month in the Country" from initial read-throughs into production, "Actresses" finds plenty of humor in the ridiculousness of the process, from Marcelline, in an early exercise, working herself into a frenzy trying to figure out how to open a door in character, to the gay director Denis (Mathieu Amalric) mauling Marcelline in her dressing room out of some idea of how a director should treat his chosen muse, to another in which Marcelline gives another actress three minutes to cry on cue. That last scene recalls Scott Coffey‘s 2005 portrait of a Hollywood starlet hopeful "Ellie Parker," but the film as a whole has more in common with Mitsuo Yanagimachi‘s "Who’s Camus Anyway," which screened at the festival two years ago and which also follows the folie à plusieurs of a big production. Actors are inherently dramatic people, argues "Actresses," because they spend their lives immersed in grand gestures and so can only communicate that way in real life, no matter how silly it seems to the normal population. Marcelline in particular has trouble separating the feelings of her character (who she starts to hallucinate in the form of Valeria Golino) from her own, and so may or may not have fallen for the actor (Louis Garrel) playing her character’s on-stage love interest, a relationship exacerbated by her own desperation to find love.

Bruni Tedeschi is radiant and milky-eyed as Marcelline, and also fearlessly loony. As the film goes on and becomes more funny-sad than funny, she becomes accordingly more shrill and unreasonable, until she finally finds herself echoing the iconic dramatic gesture of another high-strung cinematic heroine. For Marcelline, the act doesn’t win her any arguments, it just leaves her dog-paddling in the Seine.

"Actresses" screens October 11 and 13th at Frederick P. Rose Hall, and will receive an eventual theatrical release from IFC First Take.

+ "Actresses" (FilmLinc)
+ "Actresses" (IMDb)


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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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.