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Jay and Mark Duplass on “Baghead”

Jay and Mark Duplass on “Baghead” (photo)

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A quick refresher for the six of you who need it: “Mumblecore” (c. 2005 – 2007?) is the hastily designated catch-all for a loosely allied circle of young American filmmakers utilizing a low-budget, documentary-esque shooting style for their talky DIY indies. Regardless of whether you like any of the individual films, odds are you’re either (a) tired of hearing that overhyped word, (b) have never heard it before now, or (c) one of the Duplass brothers. Actor/filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass — whose witty road-trip dramedy “The Puffy Chair” became one of the first m-word successes — are quite comfortable with their association to that so-called movement/genre/clique, and why shouldn’t they be, considering Sony Pictures Classics has released their follow-up feature? (Talk about mumble-score, har har!)

“Baghead” stars Steve Zissis, Ross Partridge, Greta Gerwig and Elise Muller as four friends and wannabe thespians who hole up in a cabin for a weekend of collaborative screenwriting on their dream project… until a mysterious stalker with a paper bag on his head shows up. Reminiscent of the Duplasses’ inventive shorts about relationships, their unusual new genre mash-up is prankish one moment, scary and suspenseful the next, and it’s for the best to give nothing else away. Mark and Jay occasionally finished each other’s sentences while yakking about lovable losers and the meta-aspects of promoting their film, but let’s get down to brass tacks:

How do we destroy the word “mumblecore?”

Mark Duplass: With the movie “Baghead?” We’ll smoke it with a simple bag. [laughs] I don’t know. We’ll keep saying “mumblecore” as long as the New York Times writes about it. We don’t really care if people call us mumblecore. Little films need attention. If people want to write about it, that’s totally fine. We don’t necessarily feel like [we’re making] mumblecore movies. They share some aesthetic traits of what people call the movement, but our movies are mainstream movies that look like independent films.

Jay Duplass: We don’t feel particularly pigeonholed by it, although we might be crying in a year or two with the backlash. We’re just continually making the movies we want to make, and whatever people want to call them, that’s fine — as long as they don’t call them a big piece of poo.

Did you intend “Baghead” as a spoof of mumblecore, as some journalists have suggested?

MD: We certainly don’t like the word “spoof” because that implies making fun of someone. We’ve made a career out of making fun of ourselves. We see “Baghead” as more of a love song to the life of a desperate actor, as opposed to, “look how stupid these people are, so let’s make fun of them.”

There is, however, one character you rightfully tease in the beginning: the pretentious indie filmmaker at a post-screening Q&A.

MD: The film festival Q&A is so ripe for the picking because they’re these giant circle jerks where the filmmakers are basically bragging about themselves, and people are trying to come up with the most interesting, poignant questions…

07222008_baghead2.jpgJD: …to show how brilliant they are that they truly understand a director’s vision. But we’re not trying to make a scathing satire. It’s funny, but we love it, too. We’re aware that we’re going up there to get worshipped, and we try to elicit that worship as much as possible. [laughs] It’s ridiculous, but at the same time, it’s great.

MD: We’re doing it right now.

That explains why I’m only asking you brilliant questions. Seriously though, have you had any weird occurrences while standing on stage after a screening?

MD: When we were at Sundance with “The Puffy Chair,” we had an 8 a.m. screening, and a lot of the local Salt Lake population came out. I think they felt that the movie was more real than it was. They started attacking me and the lead actress, Katie Aselton, because they thought we were actually dating when we shot the movie. They were wondering why we hadn’t yet gotten married in real life.


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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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.