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“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”

“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (photo)

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With its title and indie rock soundtrack, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” tries to pass itself off as the underground music lover’s dream romantic comedy. But while its characters claim to listen to music and even occasionally play music, they never talk about it in any convincingly intelligent way. Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) have exactly one minor conversation about the thing that allegedly is the source of their magical compatibility. Nick supposedly makes the best mix CDs with clever titles like “Road to Closure: Volume 2”; we don’t hear them. He loves an elusive but supposedly incredible band called Where’s Fluffy; we don’t hear them. The movie is like a kid who likes to wear the T-shirts of cool bands but doesn’t actually listen to their albums.

Nick is the only heterosexual member of a band named The Jerk Offs. According to the press notes, they’re part of a “queercore” movement in New York City — not that the movie uses that term, or any term, to describe their sound. We’ve got to make do with what we hear from their one brief performance at Arlene’s Grocery on the Lower East Side. It’s there that Nick runs into his cruel ex-girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena) who also enjoys bagging on her classmate Norah’s single girl status. To deflect Tris’ insults, Norah impetuously drafts Nick as her stand-in boyfriend and one magically spontaneous smooch later, the duo are off in his yellow Yugo for a night of wacky misadventures through Manhattan’s club scene.

“Nick and Norah” is the type of movie that reminds you of other better movies. It keeps forcing you to compare it to other things and none of them work in its favor. The musical elitist milieu reeks of “High Fidelity,” but doesn’t boast that film’s convincingly snarky dialogue or its flair for romantic gesture. The title alludes to the witty repartee of “The Thin Man” series, but Cera and Dennings, attractively likable as they are, can’t hold a candle to William Powell and Myrna Loy’s chemistry or banter. The Jerk Offs open for Bishop Allen, whose lead singer Justin Rice was the star of a far superior movie about New York’s indie music world, “Mutual Appreciation.” There’s a scene in a public toilet that calls to mind “Trainspotting” and a bad parallel parking gag that recalls “Annie Hall.”

With one great performance after another, Michael Cera’s built up an air of infallibility during his relatively short career; “Nick and Norah” proves to be his first true stumble. He’s become quite adept at playing the awkward teenager; maybe a little too good. He’s called upon in “Nick and Norah” to be a bit more of a brooding, artistic type and it doesn’t suit him or his brand of self-deprecating comedy. His Nick isn’t even moody; he’s just disinterested, even when he’s got two beautiful girls fighting over his affections. He hasn’t done any favors by the screenplay either, which offers him few opportunities to be passionate about anything, including his music.

The film’s director, Peter Sollett, has a good feel for the vibe of a certain kind of ironically detached New York nightlife and an empathy for his characters’ teenage desires that’s refreshing in the face of so many high school movies that preach to (or worse, demonize) their audience. There’s one scene on a pier between Nick and Tris so full of unspoken sexual tension and clever visual flourishes (a lipstick kiss on a windshield, a wiper quickly removing it) it makes you wonder where that energy went during the rest of the film. Perhaps it was put into the soundtrack, which features wonderful songs from We Are Scientists, The Dead 60s and Paul Tiernan, amongst others. None of them are discussed, but they’re there, on the Road to Closure.


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.