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Sundance 2009: “The September Issue.”

Sundance 2009: “The September Issue.” (photo)

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There’s a moment in “The September Issue” in which it seems, perhaps, that Miss Anna Wintour regrets. She’s just explained that her siblings work in global labor organization, in arranging low-income housing and as the political editor of the Guardian. “My brothers and sister are very amused by what I do,” she says, biting her lip, and for a second you believe that “Nuclear” Wintour, the famously glacial, controlling and all-powerful editor-in-chief of American Vogue, secretly wishes she’d gotten a medical degree and went off to Sudan with Doctors Without Borders. And then you don’t, because throughout R.J. Cutler’s documentary, which spans the assembling of the 2007 September issue of Vogue, the largest and most important of the year, Wintour keeps such a tight rein on how she’s portrayed that even moments of vulnerability seem calculated. It’s not much of a complaint — I would have loved a bit more depth, a bit more of something from the film, which skims merrily along the surface of its captivating topic, but the more you see of Wintour, the more it becomes clear that a creature that eats, sleeps and breathes media simply does not have unguarded moments in front of the camera.

Fortunately, “The September Issue” also has Grace Coddington, a former fashion model who’s now what a colleague calls the world’s greatest stylist, who’s Vogue‘s creative director and the one staff member unafraid to tell Wintour what she actually thinks — the others simper in constant terror and fold immediately when challenged. In a telling moment, Coddington confesses that she complained about her budget in front of the “September Issue” camera crew deliberately, as having such a think caught on tape is the only way to force Wintour to dole out more cash, the two yanking the doc team into their career-long push-pull without hesitation, an act that’s later echoed by the cameraman being enlisted in a shoot. Brash and down-to-earth, Coddington is the accessible answer to Wintour’s immaculate deadpan, and “The September Issue”‘s a warmer place because of her. But more interesting than any human drama are the instances we see of Vogue‘s power and place in the fashion industry. What the magazine does goes far beyond the realms of journalism in any sense. Wintour actively critiques and shapes the collections of established design houses before they’re completed; she hooks Thakoon, a young designer she likes, up with a career-making gig because she can; she runs interference on behalf of stores like Neiman Marcus when they need items that are actually wearable, not just hyper-stylish. It seems like a closed and terribly small bubble, until you realize that outside the camera’s gaze is a whole world that will feel the impact of the decisions being made by such a select group of people, by, often, just one woman, even if it’s only in what everyone chooses to wear.

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

[Photo: “The September Issue,” A&E IndieFilms, 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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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.