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DID YOU READ

LOOKBACK AT A SOUNDTRACK: Garden State

LOOKBACK AT A SOUNDTRACK:  Garden State (photo)

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We are in an age where indie music is expected to be heard on a national level–whether it be through a car commercial or a dramatic montage on Grey’s Anatomy. Movie soundtracks are no exception. As proved by said car commercials, iPod ads, and slow-motion-theatrical-sequences, there is a want and need for indie-minded music.

(left: Let’s see how good you are, what song was playing during this scene?)

That’s why when music supervisors begin putting together a playlist for their film’s soundtrack–one in which they want to use some hip, under-the-radar music–one of the first places they’ll look for inspiration is the soundtrack for Garden State. Since the beginning of the 00’s, no other movie or TV show (sorry O.C. and Gilmore Girls) has been able to top the playlist for Zach Braff’s baby (he also wrote and directed Garden State).

There are many reasons the soundtrack for Garden State triumphs. First and foremost, Garden State–the movie–was good. It’s a lot easier to get excited about a soundtrack if the movie it’s representing was captivating to begin with.

Many times throughout Garden State, music leads the way, so by owning the soundtrack you also hold the keys to many of the film’s story-telling devices. Want to relive the scene of Sam (Natalie Portman) putting a pair of oversized headphones around Andrew’s (Zach Braff) ears telling him that The Shins will change his life? Go to track #4, “New Slang” by The Shins, and you can just see the big ol’ smile stretch across Natalie Portman’s face.

Though it’s tough to associate every moment in the movie with a song on the soundtrack, you can definitely do it with a handful. Frou Frou’s “Let Go” brings you back to the dramatic last scene where Andrew plants a big wet one on Sam in the baggage claim area, while Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy In New York” takes you back to the rainy scene in the quarry where everyone’s wearing garbage bags for raincoats. (I can even look past the fact that Braff’s character was technically “The Only Living Boy In New Jersey.”)

Garden State also succeeds because it doesn’t fall into the normal Hollywood traps. The scene where Sam hands her headphones over to Andrew could have easily been contrived into a major label, integrated marketing stunt:

Sam: Here, listen to this new Maroon 5 single, it will change your life.
Andrew: Ah yeah, that’s awesome!

Next thing you know, you’ve got a Maroon 5 music video with scenes of Garden State interspersed throughout.

Method Man also has a cameo in the film, which might have lead some record-industry-peeps to think he deserved a track on the film’s soundtrack–fortunately he doesn’t. No knock on Method Man, but all of the songs on Garden State perfectly match the mood of the film, everything from Iron and Wine’s lovely “Such Great Heights” to Coldplay’s pre-arena-days, “Don’t Panic“. I’m not sure if a Wu-Tang Clan track would have gone well between songs by Remy Zero and Thievery Corporation.

To all soundtrack producers and montage makers looking to strike gold, here’s the secret to the success of the Garden State soundtrack–Zack Braff took a whole bunch of mainstream-accessible songs from mostly indie-minded bands, and, basically, just made a really good mixtape.

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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.