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Rotterdam 2009: Alexis dos Santos Rolls Around “Unmade Beds”

Rotterdam 2009: Alexis dos Santos Rolls Around “Unmade Beds” (photo)

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The buzz is building around Alexis dos Santos’ swoony sophomore effort, “Unmade Beds.” Premiering at Sundance to no small acclaim, it made its way to Rotterdam and continues to impress. A jaunty, romantic tale of restless youth and their search for identity and a little sex, the film’s real star is its set, a bohemian’s paradise: a giant, labyrinthine warehouse stocked with drum sets, animal masks and an international cast of idealistic dreamers. Buzzing with French New Wave-like energy, there’s a surprise (and a party) after every cut. Despite traveling from the wilds of Utah to the perpetually damp Holland, not to mention nursing a robust hangover, dos Santos heroically managed to sit down with me for a few questions about his latest work.

Could you talk about the origin of the film?

It goes back a long way. I started writing it when I finished film school in London. I had a lot of Nan Goldin in my head. The title comes from a picture of two beds she took. I thought it would be my first film, then at some point, I got tired… we were developing it with Film4 for a couple of years. It just kept going and going, and at some point, I decided to shoot something else in my hometown, which became [my 2006 first feature] “Glue.”

It feels like you know the setting of “Unmade Beds” very well. What is your relationship with the East End of London?

When I started writing, I wanted to make a portrait of the London that I was living in, which was different from that portrayed in the films I saw. When I saw “Dirty Pretty Things,” I felt it had nothing to do with the London I knew. The city has millions of different kids from many different countries. It’s perfect for them because there’s so much good music and art. Sometimes they stay for three months, sometimes forever.

I had friends who were living in squats, and I made a couple different music videos in them. There was a big warehouse where art students and musicians lived, and every week there was a massive party over three floors. In every corner, you could see a pile of garbage, but if you looked at it closer it was an installation. There were installations absolutely everywhere. The whole place was a work of art. My friend who did the production design was one of the people squatting in these buildings.

02022009_unmadebeds_2.jpgCould you talk about the bands you had in the film?

I go to gigs a lot, and I like music a lot, so a couple of the bands I’d seen live. One of them showed up at the last minute after a woman pulled out of the movie. She said, “I just had a baby, I’m too fat to be filmed,” a week before shooting. So we called up some friends of the lead actor, Fernando Tielve.

How did you cast the two lead characters?

I looked at loads of boys and girls from many different countries. I kept changing the nationalities of the two main characters in the script. In the end, they were a South American girl and a Polish boy. We were looking for that, and at some point, I said we have to open it up. I met Fernando a year before at the San Sebastian Film Festival. When he came to audition, I thought it was a cool thing that he was from Madrid. Kids in Madrid are quite wild. He has this confidence he moves around with.

I found Déborah François (“L’enfant”) after I auditioned loads of girls from many countries. I saw Scandinavian girls, German girls, Mexican girls — what I was looking for in the character was not what I found in Déborah. What I found in her was something different, a bit of cheekiness and mischief. She had a great chemistry with Michiel Huisman [who plays her mysterious lover].

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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SO EXCITED!!!

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.”

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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. 

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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.