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Judd Apatow’s David Gordon Green

Judd Apatow’s David Gordon Green (photo)

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Though critics may be divided over “Pineapple Express” — at the time of this writing, it weighs in at 57% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer — there is a consensus about at least one aspect of the Judd Apatow-produced stoner comedy: surprise over the choice of David Gordon Green as director. As Roger Ebert puts it in his positive review of the film, Green, “that poet of the cinema, is the last person you’d expect to find directing a male-buddy comedy about two potheads who start a drug war.” Based on some of his own past comments, Green might be inclined to agree with him; when promoting his debut film “George Washington” a few years ago, Green told Charlie Rose, “I’m interested in any movie that’s not like other movies. Growing up, I wasn’t so much a ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Raiders’ kind of kid. I was a guy who’d watch ‘Walkabout.'”

“Pineapple Express,” like most Apatow productions, isn’t just like other movies, it’s about other movies. Potheads Dale (Seth Rogen) and Saul (James Franco) belong in the tradition of Cheech & Chong and Harold & Kumar. Their comedic misadventures place “Pineapple” somewhere in the vicinity of “Lethal Weapon” or “Tango & Cash” in the way it satirizes the action genre’s rigorously observed rules and clichés, while its consistent blend of humor and mayhem puts it in a smaller category with Shane Black’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and Edgar Wright’s “Hot Fuzz.” Apatow’s characters speak to one another in a language of pop culture quotations (“Hey Crockett, how’s Tubbs doing?”) and, in keeping with that habit, “Pineapple Express” even has a prominent “Star Wars” rancor gag, regardless of Green’s childhood viewing habits.

In contrast, the pop culture that informs most of Green’s work isn’t particularly popular in the mainstream sense; Nicholas Roeg, of course, and also Terrence Malick, whose lyrical visual style was a major influence even before he became a producer of Green’s third feature, “Undertow” (2004). That film, like its two predecessors, “George Washington” (2000) and “All the Real Girls” (2003), is set amongst the decaying ruins of America’s industrial South (which, as Green himself put it in an interview with The Believer, appears in his trilogy as “a wasteland where man met nature and nature kicked its ass”). Their plots, such as they are, linger in the mind less than the images from that landscape Green deploys in their service: children walking on train tracks that stretch to the horizon, young lovers in a strained embrace in the middle of an empty bowling alley, gold coins drifting down into a watery abyss. Young love is a frequent theme; so are single parents and generational conflicts. So is spitting.

Green’s last feature, “Snow Angels,” was the first to transplant the director north of the Mason-Dixon line. Initially hired to adapt Stewart O’Nan’s novel for another filmmaker, he eventually assumed the director’s chair himself and took the project well outside his established comfort zone: heavier on plot and narrative, and set in the snowy climate of Western Pennsylvania. “Snow Angels” contains more humor than Green’s previous efforts (which wasn’t terribly difficult), but it still ends with a brutal murder-suicide.

So how the hell did Green come to direct a studio comedy with a not-entirely-ironic Huey Lewis & the News theme song? Pragmatically, the credit belongs to Danny McBride, who was Green’s neighbor in college and recommended him for the gig after getting cast in “Pineapple Express” himself. Brought on to the set of last year’s “Knocked Up” to observe how they do things over in Apatown, Green discovered a like-minded production process that bridged the seemingly disparate styles of movies. Both preferred working with friends and longtime collaborators, both aren’t afraid to take chances on unknown or even untrained actors in crucial roles. And both tend to view screenplays as unfinished sketches rather than sacrosanct texts.


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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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.