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Tom Tykwer Talks “The International”

Tom Tykwer Talks “The International” (photo)

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German filmmaker Tom Tykwer (“Run, Lola, Run,” “Perfume”) may have been working on “The International” for years, but his new thriller sure seems frighteningly prescient amidst the current news of economic despair and predatory lenders. Clive Owen stars as an impassioned Interpol agent who, along with his District Attorney pal Naomi Watts, aims to take down a wholly corrupt bank that finances terrorists and murders those who stand in their way of doing business. An entertaining, gorgeously shot throwback to ’70s Hollywood conspiracy thrillers, “The International” sees our heroes chasing the money all over the world (Berlin, Milan, Istanbul, New York; what’s in a movie title?), leading up to a dizzying shootout in the Guggenheim Museum that filmgoers will likely be talking about for years to come. I sat down with Tykwer in New York, who had just returned from the Berlin Film Festival, where “The International” had recently played as the opening night selection.

Berlinale insiders are often so dismissive of each year’s opener, even before they see it. Did you feel any pressure being both a local filmmaker and screening in that cursed slot?

Sure. The opening night film has to connect so many dots. It has to be entertainment; it has to make sense in this party mode that the opening is about. But that’s why it was so much fun, because I think people were quite shocked because it’s pretty violent and quite intense. It’s political, yet still a real thriller. You usually don’t open film festivals with [sociopolitically relevant] thrillers, which we were trying to make here. Actually, people embraced that. They loved that it wasn’t just a fancy piece of chocolate, but a little bit more, like a full meal.

At least you weren’t Lukas Moodysson, whose new film “Mammoth” was booed at the fest.

It got booed? He’s a genius, how could they boo him? Well, I can tell you, the Berlin audience is quite ruthless. [laughs] But they’re also quite expert and very enthusiastic about cinema in general, so that’s quite shocking. “Lilya 4 Ever” is a really amazing movie, and what was his first one, “Fucking Åmål”? I’m a big fan of Lukas’ work.

02112009_TheInternational2.jpgI’d love to know the backstory on the action sequence set inside the Guggenheim. That scene alone justifies this movie’s existence.

I hope the rest is also interesting. [laughs] Architecture plays a big part of the movie in general and for the most intense, climactic sequence of the film, we felt that we should probably choose one of the most iconic places in modern architecture. The Guggenheim offers so many unusual perspectives and emotions even. It was very inviting for a sequence where our protagonist is suddenly surrounded by assassins and attacked on all sides. Because of its spiral structure, the Guggenheim is the perfect spot to put somebody in this situation where he loses all sense of orientation and is overwhelmed by the situation. To create a massive shootout in this place caused all sorts of pragmatic problems. You can’t actually go to the Guggenheim people and tell them, “Look, we need you to close down the museum for two months and let us tear it apart.” But luckily, they were quite cooperative and curious about the project, and ultimately supported us as much as they could. We ended up shooting only a couple days in the real museum, and then we built the entire thing on a stage near Berlin in a one-to-one size perspective, and shot there for another six weeks to end up with this 13 minutes.


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.