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Sundance 2009: “The Cove.”

Sundance 2009: “The Cove.” (photo)

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“The Cove” is a documentary about Taiji, Japan’s capital for dolphin hunting, and how effective it is is directly proportional to how horrified you feel at the idea of dolphins being killed for meat. I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, the answer is: not very. I didn’t relish the concluding footage of the world’s most lovable cetacean flopping through its death throes in bloody water, but in the end I felt the same way I’ve felt when confronted with a look inside commercial slaughterhouses — was anyone expecting it to be pretty? Dolphins, unlike whales, aren’t endangered. They’re just cute.

A production of the Oceanic Preservation Society, funded by Netscape founder Jim Clark, “The Cove” is in part a very well supplied heist-style stunt that someone in the film compares to “Ocean’s Eleven.” While anyone can watch the dolphins be rounded up and offered to trainers as potential performers, for obvious PR reasons no one’s allowed to witness what follows, when the remaining animals are herded into a secluded area to be slaughtered by local fishermen. Director Louie Psihoyos and crew gather champion freedivers, military-grade thermal imaging equipment and HD cameras hidden in rocks designed by Industrial Light and Magic to capture the carnage in the forbidden zone. The film’s hero and guide is Ric O’Barry, former “Flipper” trainer turned dolphin protecting advocate, and its villains are many: the Taiji government, the local fishermen, SeaWorld, the International Whaling Commission. As “The Cove” tries to spiral out to tie in the first wave of mercury poisoning, caused by corporate pollution in the ’50s, and to touch on the massive Japanese fishing industry in general, it loses focus, makes some serious leaps of logic and at times flirts — unconsciously, to be sure — with racism in its generalizations.

Someone suggests that Japan’s insistence on whaling, and therefore the dolphin industry that’s grown since the ban, is a remnant of the country’s old empire status, one stubborn sticking point against bowing to the will of the west. It’s an interesting suggestion — certainly dolphin meat, cultural legacy or not, doesn’t have much of a market share in the country, as a far-too-brief man on the street segment indicates. And it’s cultural difference and unwillingness to bend on both sides that’s led to this issue. For the moist-eyed interviewees on the side of “good” in “The Cove,” dolphins are mirrors in which they see themselves. For the residents of Taiji, dolphins are just another type of sea life, and they see no disconnect in seeing them perform at the aquarium, and then buying dolphin meat in the gift shop. They just didn’t get to make a movie about it.

“The Cove” currently has no U.S. distribution. See all of’s Sundance coverage here.

[Photo: “The Cove,” Oceanic Preservation Society, 2009]


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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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.