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SXSW 2009: “Sorry, Thanks.”

SXSW 2009: “Sorry, Thanks.” (photo)

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Apologies for whipping out the m-word, but mumblecore always seemed to me to be defined by its choreography of conflict avoidance. Its characters are so vague about they want and what they think because what they definitely don’t want is to lay those things out and risk disagreement, rejection or open hostility. They lack any obvious sharp edges, and so seem to be infected with terminal niceness, but to say that is to ignore all the passive aggression lurking underneath the surface of those meandering exchanges. A fine sign of how the mumble-crowd is coming of age is Dia Sokol’s directorial debut “Sorry, Thanks,” a film set in a familiar milieu of noncommittal 20-somethings with a fair amount of time on their hands, but one that also asks its characters to come to terms with the fact that not acknowledging what they’re doing doesn’t mean they can’t hurt anyone.

Kira (Kenya Miles) has just come out of a seven-year relationship and Max (“Dazed and Confused”‘s Wiley Wiggins) is still in a three-year one when they wake up together at the start of “Sorry, Thanks,” having met at a party the night before. They go their separate ways, but both live in San Francisco’s Mission district, and common friends mean they’re soon awkwardly running into each other at bars and parties and movies and starting up a flirtation. Kira’s trying to learn how to be single, going on a date that ends quietly but excruciatingly badly, fooling around with a friend while insisting it doesn’t mean anything, though that friend is clearly smitten, downgrading her job to one that gives her more control of her time. Max is just a mess, summoning his pal Mason (Andrew Bujalski) to drive him around while he’s (probably permanently) sans car, working as the jaded coordinator of chipper, ambitious interns at a local senator’s office, dating someone for years without moving in with her. He’s charming, though, sardonic and baby-faced and seemingly poised for the right gal to save him. You can see why his sweet-natured girlfriend Sarah (Ia Hernandez) has stuck around despite his taking nearly a week to notice her new haircut.

“Sorry, Thanks” is filled with the expected and somewhat tiresome semi-whimsical digressions, from a toothbrushing competition to the shadow-puppet seduction opening. And maybe they’re supposed to be tiresome — there’s an underlying sense of frustration throughout the film at the continuing bonelessness of its characters. Max can’t get it together, and he’s old enough that that’s become a choice, not a quirk. “Would you say I’m a generally good person?” he asks his friends, who tell him, in the least combative way possible, that he’s actually kind of an asshole. Sokol’s worked with Bujalski on his films, and she doesn’t have his extraordinary sense of warmth for characters nor sharp sense of timing — “Sorry, Thanks” most decidedly drifts. But she is in touch with another emotion that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s watched similar films: the desire to give everyone on screen a good shake and suggest that they are actually well into their adult lives.


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.