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Product placement.

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08282008_somerstown.jpgThere’s an interesting piece at the Guardian from David Cox, who sees end times-signs in the fact that Shane Meadows’ “Somers Town” (which, I know, enough already) was paid for by Eurostar: “A fateful Rubicon has been crossed,” he declares.

Meadows didn’t extract money from Eurostar to facilitate a project of his own. He agreed to place his skills at the service of one of theirs. Of course, plenty of directors make commercials, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Advertising tries to sell us something, and it doesn’t pretend otherwise.

Somers Town, however, carries no warning message, like the ‘Advertorial’ banner atop of every page of a sponsored newspaper supplement. Corporate authorship isn’t acknowledged until the very last line of the credits, and then simply by the word ‘Eurostar’ attached to a copyright symbol in tiny type. For its £750,000 or so, the company bought not just an advertisement, but the capacity to disguise its advertising as art. A pretty good deal by the current standards of the ad market.

Cox does acknowledge the retorts that immediately come to my mind — that every film that isn’t paid for out of the filmmaker’s own pocket has outside obligations to work with, whether they’re studio, government or, ahem, advertiser expectations. But he calls for an upholding of the “separation of editorial from advertising,” as seen in print and broadcasting — which, given the current state of the media, is like suggesting that because your roof is leaking you should take shelter at your neighbor’s house, which is on fire. “Somers Town” is just the nearest example of a line that was crossed, at least in the U.S., years ago — see (well, don’t see) 2005’s “Supercross: The Movie,” produced in partnership with Clear Channel Entertainment, also responsible for the televised races for which the film is an incoherent advertisement.

Incidentally, Brandcameo’s Product Placement Awards are trying to stake out a spot in that depressing, if prescient, area, declaring the year’s best and worst incidents of product placement, including “Iron Man”‘s Burger King up/down:

It wasn’t enough to have Tony “Iron Man” Stark scarf a few BK burgers straight from the bag. Taking product placement to a whole new level were Iron Man star Robert Downey Jr.’s comments to Empire Magazine stating that it was a trip to Burger King that convinced him to clean up his life. Though, in true product placement tradition, the brand doesn’t always get to control how it is placed: “I have to thank Burger King. It was such a disgusting burger I ordered. I had that, and this big soda, and I thought something really bad was going to happen.”

[Photo: “Somers Town,” The Works International, 2008]

+ Cinema sells its soul (Guardian)
+ 2008 brandcameo Produce Placement Awards (Brand Channel)


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.