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A Child’s Eye View of Tribulation

A Child’s Eye View of Tribulation (photo)

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The best films about childhood rely heavily on an alchemic bond between filmmaker and actor, and the connection between director So Yong Kim and the two very young leads of her new film “Treeless Mountain” must have been nothing short of miraculous. The story of Jin (Hee-Yeon Kim) and Bin (Song-Hee Kim), sisters left in the care of an indifferent, hard-drinking aunt while their mother goes in search of their absentee father, is a marvel of naturalism. Taken out of school and abandoned to wander the village all day, six-year-old Jin and four-year-old Bin learn to be resourceful, catching grasshoppers to grill and sell, saving up coins in a piggy bank in hopes that it’ll make their mother come back for them as she promised. I spoke to the Korean-born Kim about returning to her own childhood home to shoot the film, avoiding sentimentality and that whole pesky “neo-neo realism” thing.

Your first film, “In Between Days,” is about a girl who had come from Korea and was living here and struggling with the experience. What led you to actually go back to Korea to shoot “Treeless Mountain”?

This film was always set in Korea, and it was really important to me personally, going back to my own home country to tell this story. It was more difficult than I thought it would be, but I’m glad that I had the chance to work there as a filmmaker and explore the country, to see it with different eyes. When I was writing the script, all the places that I located the scenes in were based on my memory from 1970-something. To go back and see these locations — a lot of the places haven’t changed at all. It brought such a sentiment of connection for me.

What were some of the things that made it more difficult than you’d expected?

It’s one thing to dream of shooting a film in your home town, but it’s another to implement all the logistics of having your crew be half American and half Korean. There was a huge language barrier, and also a cultural barrier in the beginning. It was a rocky start. But something magical happened, which, thinking back, was a miracle — even though the first week of the shoot was very difficult and intense for everyone, after that it was so smooth. Everyone got along. It was like people were meditating. Everyone connected, and language didn’t become an issue.

04212009_treelessmountain2.jpgDespite “Treeless Mountain” being about two neglected children, I don’t think the film’s in any way sentimental. What that something on your mind when making it?

I’m constantly worried about that. It was a huge fear for me, before finishing the script, during pre-production, even when I was shooting, especially when I was editing. That was a huge monster that I had to tackle. When I watch anything that makes me cry or feel like “wasn’t that cute,” I’m like, “Oh no. That film’s not gonna stay with me.” It becomes this emotional candy bar. You’ll overdose on it and then forget about it. I didn’t want to make a film like that. I wanted to treat [the girls] like they were adults, with respect and a sense of the strong characters that they both had.

I was struck, watching the film, by how much it’s from the girls’ point of view — there’s an immersion in this childhood world. How did you put yourself in that space?

I wanted to make sure that the camera was always on the eye level of the kids, to convey the sense that you’re in these situations with them instead of observing them from far away. And I always wanted to start with the close-ups of each face, so that you could see these expressions that are so pure and honest from both girls. I tried to convey as much intimacy with them as possible. I completely trusted them and their ability to be in this film.


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.