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DID YOU READ

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (in Woody Allen’s Movies)

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (in Woody Allen’s Movies) (photo)

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As far back as last February, the press began speculating about a supposed lesbian tryst between the stars of Woody Allen’s new film “Vicky Christina Barcelona.” Under a headline reading “Sapphic Steam,” the New York Post’s Page Six announced that they’d learned from an anonymous source that the scene between Scarlett Johansson and Penélope Cruz was “extremely erotic” and that when the film reached theaters audiences would “be blown away and even shocked.” Various news agencies picked up the story. Some even distorted it further; one website assured its readers in no uncertain terms that “Scarlett Johansson and Penélope Cruz will have lesbian sex in Woody Allen’s new film,” as if the actresses were bypassing any notion of dramatic pretense and doing the scene purely for their own sexual gratification.

Even after “Vicky Christina” played the Cannes Film Festival last May, rumors of the combustible chemistry between the stars continued, but audiences seeing the film as it makes its way around the country in limited release will have to be pretty prudish to be “blown away” by what’s on screen — the moment in question is a same sex make-out scene, infinitely less explicit than movies like “Bound” or “Mulholland Drive.” I guess it’s pretty hot by the standards of a Woody Allen movie, but that makes it pretty tame by most other measures. For 40 years, Allen has made movies about sex without ever actually featuring it.

08202008_woodyallen2.jpgConsider, for example, the alluringly titled “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy” (1982). It sure sounds dirty — hell, the word “sex” is right there in the title. If you saw the DVD in a video store and didn’t know anything about the movie or who made it, you’d have to assume it was a Shakespearian-themed porno flick. Not quite; it’s an easygoing comedy, loosely based on an Ingmar Bergman movie, about three couples spending a weekend together at a house in upstate New York circa the turn of the 20th century. Sex is certainly in the air, but it’s not ever really on screen. At the, ahem, climax, one of the characters dies mid-coitus. He enters the country house from the woods, but the camera remains outside. From within, we hear some grunts and the sound of clothes tearing before Allen cuts away. When we finally make our way inside, the character is already dead. His partner describes the act — “We did it all! Violently! Like two savages! He was screaming with pleasure, and at the highest moment of ecstasy he just keeled over!” — but we never caught even a glimpse. If you’re looking for steam, sapphic or otherwise, you can skip this one; unless your idea of eroticism is the sight of Woody Allen in a pair of old timey bloomers.

Allen has one other film with sex in the title: 1972’s “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask.” And it, at least, comes a little closer to living up to its title. Based on the sex advice book by Dr. David Reuben, it’s a collection of unconnected sketches about all manner of kink and taboo. It is undoubtedly Allen’s most risqué movie, but it’s also one of his silliest, and it only contains nudity if you count the sight of an enormous, disembodied, milk-squirting boob in a chapter about Woody as an author (whose latest book is entitled “Advanced Sexual Positions: How to Achieve Them Without Laughing”) investigating the bizarre experiments of crazy Dr. Bernardo (John Carradine). The sequence also includes a man enthusiastically humping an enormous rye bread and Dr. Bernardo threatening Woody’s female co-star (Heather MacRae) with gang rape by a troop of Cub Scouts. The movie doesn’t have a great reputation, but it’s most famous for the segment entitled “What is Sodomy?” in which Gene Wilder plays a doctor who falls for one of his patient’s sheep; the funniest moment comes when Wilder’s wife snuggles up to him in bed, sniffs, and goes “Why do you smell like lamb chops?”

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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.