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DID YOU READ

“No Country For Old Men”

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By Matt Singer

IFC News

[Photo: Josh Brolin in “No Country For Old Men,” Miramax Films, 2007]

I’ve seen over 80 new releases in the five months since I saw “No Country For Old Men” at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, including fine works by directors like Steven Soderbergh, Michael Winterbottom and Abel Ferrara. But none has stayed as fresh in my memory — or, hell, just straight-up kicked as much ass — as the Coen brothers’ “No Country For Old Men.” I’d say it’s their masterpiece, but they’ve already put out two or three other movies that might qualify for that title.

I saw the movie in the middle of one of the busiest weeks of my life, after a long day of interviews and live web shows. The movie started at 10 o’clock at night and I half-expected to fall asleep. Not only did that not happen, but when the movie ended I couldn’t sleep because I just wanted to keep talking about it. And though I wasn’t able to take notes like I normally would, it didn’t matter. After all that time, I can still instantly call to mind a whole fleet of moments and images and characters from the film.

Based on the Cormac McCarthy novel of the same name, “No Country” follows Llewelyn Moss (a shockingly rugged Josh Brolin), a hunter who stumbles on a botched drug deal and all the dead bodies and cold hard cash that goes with it. He absconds with the money and, before long, the men with claim to it have sent a hitman named Anton Chigurh (a shockingly creepy Javier Bardem) to retrieve it. Despite Brolin’s impressively gruff performance, in addition to solid supporting turns from Tommy Lee Jones as a too-old-for-this-shit sheriff and Woody Harrelson as another drug enforcer on the trail of Moss’ money, it is Bardem who will receive all the attention and, almost assuredly, all the Oscar nominations for the film — somewhat rightfully so. Sporting an outlandishly bad pageboy haircut and a truly psychotic bug-eyed stare, he’s a great movie villain in the Hannibal Lector mold — a vision of heinous, unbridled menace who nevertheless carries a perverse sort of allure thanks, in part, to the purity of his purpose and to his quirky, for lack of a better term, sense of humor.

Eventually, the film settles into a series of cat-and-mouse chases between Moss and Chigurh, but even more than the mercilessly suspenseful set pieces, what lingers is the Coens’ remarkable attention to visual details, the way a man struggling for his life on a linoleum floor would scuff it up with his boots, or the look of disturbed dust in a ventilation shaft. Reading those words on the page, they must sound totally mundane. But they demonstrate the Coens’ directorial precision: every choice is considered and every element, down the smallest one, has been measured and selected with care. Even the things that must have been happy accidents, like the ominous lightning in the distance of a shot as Moss runs for his life, work perfectly.

Curiously, when I asked colleagues at Cannes what they thought of the movie, they all said almost the same thing: “I think it’s their best film; I just don’t like them in general.” On one hand, that doesn’t surprise me. The film is good enough to easily transcend their fan base; though “No Country” features elements of past Coen brothers movies — the grim humor in the face of tragedy, the hard-boiled dialogue, the postmodern twists on a well-worn genre (in this case the Western) — but it is its own movie, and stands side-by-side with their greatest works (a title I’d ascribe to “Fargo” and “The Big Lebowski”) as an equal, if not an outright superior.

On the other hand, when it did it become cool to bash the brothers? Certainly their last few films haven’t been as good as their best works, but “No Country For Old Men” is a true return to form. If they keep putting out movies like this one, my peers are going to look awfully foolish. This has got to be the best movie of the year.

“No Country For Old Men” opens on November 9th.

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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.