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Critic wrangle: “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.”

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08152008_vickycristinabarcelona.jpgAs many have pointed out, it’s damning “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” with faint praise to call it Woody Allen’s best film since “Match Point,” a minimal achievement if ever there was one. I liked the film at Cannes, and like it even more in retrospect, where it seems a little crueler, for all that it looks like a soft-focus sex farce. Reviews are, for the most part, quite good.

“[M]aybe it was the Gaudi architecture or the restorative Mediterranean breeze,” muses Michael Koresky at indieWIRE, “but on a very basic level, ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ works, flowing along even and steady, and infectiously fascinated by its principals (and its principles, as any Allen film worth its weight in moral dilemmas must be).” “Given its particulars–Allen’s creepy-old-man gaze, the subtext-free dialogue, the Michelin-guide tour of Catalan art and architecture, the predictable dramatic arc–Vicky Cristina Barcelona ought to have been an eye-roller,” adds David Edelstein at New York. “What a surprise that it’s so seductive. The Woodman lives!”

Scott Foundas at the LA Weekly writes that “I for one found something oddly elating in the movie’s assurance that it is better to have made passionate love and maybe almost died at the hands of a jealous mistress than never to have loved at all.” “[T]hrough it all, Vicky Cristina Barcelona remains unaccountably romantic, a confirmation that love, elusive and painful as it can be, is still worth pursuing,” agrees Scott Tobias at the Onion AV Club. David Denby, at the New Yorker, speculates that “One is meant to emerge from ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ believing that happiness may be elusive, even impossible, but that life has a richness greater than one’s personal satisfaction.” For Manohla Dargis at the New York Times, the film “reverberates with implacable melancholy, a sense of loss.”

Roger Ebert sums “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” up as “all fairly harmless, although fraught with dire possibilities,” while Andrew Sarris at the New York Observer goes as far as saying the film is “one of the most felicitously written, edited, acted and directed romantic comedies of his entire career.”

Andrew O’Hehir at Salon is not as enchanted, guessing that Allen “was shooting for a Henry James-style parable about American innocents abroad, but what he wound up with was an intermittently amusing fairy tale with a nasty sting in its tail, one that punishes its American characters for their shallowness and cowardice and rewards its Europeans for their worldly sophistication.” Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly finds the sentiment more ’60s in spirit: “[T]here is no vision — no possibility — of a relationship that is long-term and monogamous yet amorous in spirit…I hope it’s not too bourgeois of me to point out that for a director who is trying to make a worldly romantic comedy, this is quite a shallow and jejune point of view.”

Not feeling it at all: Ed Gonzalez at Slant, who proposes for “what may be described as an Upper East Sider’s version of Hostel” the alternate title of “Pan-Seared Misogyny in Hot-Blooded Balsamic Mediterranean Reduction.” And Armond White at the New York Press, in his contortions to tear at Allen’s film by way of praising Rohmer’s “The Romance of Astrea and Celadon,” comes up with pronouncements like “Fatally, there’s no significant nudity in Vicky Cristina Barcelona, which means its sexual frankness is specious,” and “Despite the big budget and name stars, Vicky Cristina Barcelona shows Allen’s 98th film stumbling into mumblecore, fumbling with love and class like a spoiled brat who’s never seen a Rohmer, Malle, Renoir or Ophuls masterpiece.”

[Photo: “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” Weinstein Co, 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.