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NYFF: “I’m Not There.”

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"I'm sorry for everything I've done and I hope to remedy it soon."
We’re barely literate in Bob Dylanese, so a fair amount of Todd Haynes"I’m Not There" went over our head, or dodged past us when we weren’t looking, or bulldozed us and left us for dead. It’s a tricky beast, Haynes’ fractured biopic, which tries to present a glimpse of the elusive Dylan through the prisms of different personas but ends up being, as you might expect, more revealing about Haynes himself. Given that most of the storylines refer only obliquely to periods and themes in Dylan’s life, non-Dylan devotees may sometimes feel like they’re watching a French sitcom in a room full of chuckling Francophones with only a few years of high school Spanish with which to decipher what’s going on. Still, for the most part, "I’m Not There" is just fine, an uneven, ambitious, flawed attempt at circumventing all of the conventions of putting someone’s life onto the screen.

The Dylans are, in approximate order of importance: Jude (Cate Blanchett), "Dont Look Back"-era Dylan going electric at the "New England Jazz and Folk Festival" and dueling with reporters while on tour in England; Billy (Richard Gere), formerly "the Kid," whiling away his days in hiding in rural and presumably early 1900s Missouri; Robbie (Heath Ledger), an actor who finds fame from his role in a biopic of a vanished folk singer named Jack; Woody (Marcus Carl Franklin), an improbable musical prodigy living the life of a ’30s hobo despite it being the late ’50s; Jack himself (Christian Bale), seen through the lens of an investigative documentary style; and Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Whishaw), a poet under interrogation. Blanchett’s gotten the most attention, and it’s all deserved — she’s riveting as Dylan at his most iconic, a chain-smoking, hopped-up, charismatic mess who’s sometimes a right bastard and other times tremblingly vulnerable, muttering "I’ve just got to clean up a little bit, and I’ll be fine." The film’s a billion times more alive in the Jude segments than it is elsewhere, maybe because it’s the storyline that directly engages in Haynes’ treasured topics of fame and the cultivated persona. Jude, fending off betrayed fans who stare down the camera in anguish, trailing after and then chasing away an Edie Sedgwick character (Michelle Williams), verbally disemboweling a friend at a party just because he can, always threatened to shake apart with the effort of remaining in the limelight, particularly when a certain BBC reporter (Bruce Greenwood) thinks he has Jude pinned. But there’s no solving a person (something we’re reminded when Greenwood turns up again as a failed, old Pat Garrett to Gere’s supposedly slain Billy), and "I’m Not There" also refuses to pin Dylan down, leaving the film with a strange central absence. The other Dylan figures are just ideas, the worst — Billy — an awkward, embarrassing, half-formed metaphor. Robbie is the only other one to stand out. His story is a straightforward if not clichéd one of a marriage crumbling (the most inexplicable — a summation of Dylan’s treatment of the women in his life?), but flashbacks to scenes set in Greenwich Village in the ’60s are aglow with melancholy nostalgia. It’s clear what era, scene and section of his subject’s life Haynes is most attracted to, and just as clear that he felt the need to diffuse that energy into other concepts that just don’t work when put on screen, all for the sake of this "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Musical Icon" conceit. It’s a great conceit, but it’s better in theory than in practice, and better in "Velvet Goldmine" than here, alas.

"I’m Not There" screens October 4 at 8:30pm and October 6 at 10am at Frederick
P. Rose Hall. It opens November 16th in limited release from Magnolia.

+ "I’m Not There" (FilmLinc)
+ "I’m Not There" (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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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.