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Critic wrangle: “Momma’s Man.”

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08202008_mommasman2.jpgThe theaters have been so awash in stories of stunted development that it seems unfair to summarize “Momma’s Man,” the third feature from Azazel Jacobs, the best film I saw at Sundance and one of my favorites from the year to date. But yeah, it is about how a 30-something man-child (Matt Boren) essentially moves back in with his parents — except, in this case, the father and mother are played by the director’s real-life pop and mom, avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs and his gravely compelling wife Flo. The film’s shot almost entirely in the crazily cluttered downtown loft in which Azazel grew up and in which his parents still live. It sounds both indulgent and like a sitcom set-up, and it’s neither — Jacobs has made a film that crystallizes that desire I’d guess most of us have had at one time or another, to reduce yourself back to an inculpable aspect of your parents’ already-formed lives, to wrap the debris of your childhood around yourself like a duvet and to refuse to turn your thoughts forward to the shoulds waiting for you there.

Anyway, reviews are good to great — J. Hoberman at the Village Voice, a longtime friend of the family, discloses that “I cannot evaluate Momma’s Man with an outsider’s clarity,” but still declares the film “one of the sweetest, saddest stories Franz Kafka never wrote.” “[B]uried beneath the poignant clutter of this occasionally familiar stunted-youth-in-life-transition tale is a surprisingly complex, elegantly detailed meditation on creativity and artistic growth,” adds Michael Koresky at indieWIRE. Writes Manohla Dargis at the New York Times:

“Momma’s Man” is an extraordinarily tender film — Mr. Jacobs and his camera dote on his parents — but it’s more complex than the valentine to Mom and Dad I originally had it pegged as when I first saw it at Sundance,” From some angles the loft comes across like a phantasmagoric playground, but it doesn’t appear to offer a lot of room to stretch, much less to grow. Yet, as the repeated two-shots of his parents imply, Mr. Jacobs is also acknowledging a simple truth about parents and children too rarely broached in American movies, particularly in an indie scene enslaved by juvenilia: There’s more to your parents than you.

“Above all, ‘Momma’s Man’ feels like an intensely personal consideration of the impermanence of things — not just childhood, but also neighborhoods, cities, entire ways of life,” muses Scott Foundas at Variety, while Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir agrees that, among other things, “It’s a story about realizing for the first time that someday, a lot sooner than you think, your parents and your childhood home will be gone.” Noel Murray at the Onion AV Club, a little less ebullient, writes that Jacobs hasn’t reinvented the wheel, but that the film is “a welcome change of pace regardless.”

And the New York PressArmond White is practically positive, given “Momma’s Man”‘s hipster pedigree. He offers up a coveted Spielberg comparison — “This story of Mikey leaving his wife and child in Los Angeles to return to the nest of his parents’ Tribeca loft shows personal commitment much like Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan” — and finds that the fact that the director “recognizes Mikey’s regression separates Momma’s Man from most self-absorbed indie films,” before concluding that nevertheless “Momma’s Man isn’t Baumbach-rotten, but there’s no elucidation that transcends its artsy ‘realism.’ “

[Photo: “Momma’s Man,” Kino, 2008]


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.