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DID YOU READ

Critic wrangle: “In Search of a Midnight Kiss.”

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08012008_insearchofamidnightkiss.jpgIt’s been over a year since Alex Holdridge’s “In Search of a Midnight Kiss” premiered at Tribeca 2007, in which time his “misanthrope seeks misanthrope” blind date romance has rounded the film festival bases from Edinburgh to Sarajevo to Mill Valley to Austin to Thessaloniki. Now in theaters, it’s attracting some interestingly considered, if mixed, reviews (and is the lone focus of the New Yorker‘s film column this week), with many calling out its portrayal of Los Angeles. Take Scott Foundas at the Village Voice, who leads with “Did Los Angeles sign with a new agent?” He finds that “Holdridge’s film oscillates wildly between low-key romantic comedy and antic slapstick and doesn’t always hit the mark, but it has charm to burn, as well as a welcome eye for the timeless in a rapidly changing metropolis.”

Andrew O’Hehir at Salon writes that the film “has a gutter purity that makes you root for it all the way and forgive its patches of ultra-indie awkwardness.” “While ‘In Search of a Midnight Kiss’ has its derivative moments along with awkward patches — the inelegantly shaped climax tries to force uninteresting parallels between the two central couples — it manages the difficult task of creating a sustained, plausible and inviting world,” agrees Manohla Dargis at the New York Times. At indieWIRE, Kristi Mitsuda counters that the film’s hint at larger themes of isolation and technology “never amasses enough complexity, and begins to seem like just so much narrative clutter meant to lend heft to a slight story which, like the city it celebrates, conveys an aura of gritty glamour that only goes skin deep.”

“[I]n Holdridge’s movie there is as much to repel as there is to allure, and I cannot imagine leaving a screening of it in anything less than two minds,” writes Anthony Lane at the New Yorker. But he find something in the mix of romanticism and anti-romanticism:

That pretty much sums up the mixed mood in which Holdridge’s film unfolds, and which makes it such a neat distillation of what we mean by American independent cinema: the compulsion to proceed by nudges and sidelong glances, to build a character through the accumulation of quirks, and to gesture toward the deep end of human behavior and then dart quickly away. If mainstream Hollywood cleaves to the story arc, indie creators prefer the story sine wave, with a trough for every peak.

At the New York Observer, Andrew Sarris declares that the film’s “tempestuous love story, with its heartbreaking complications, is well served by a cast of comparative unknowns.” But Noel Murray at the Onion AV Club finds it “shows enough flashes of brightness that its more conventional business is all the more dispiriting,” and Nick Schager concludes that the characters’ growing closeness is “handled admirably by the two leads (whose relaxed charm helps offset their characters’ needy self-absorption and thumb-twiddling sulkiness), even if it mostly feels like the foregone conclusion of a contrived, overly precious narrative that must inevitably climax with a New Year’s Eve smooch.”

[Photo: “In Search of a Midnight Kiss,” IFC Films, 2008]

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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.