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Mark Duplass Braves “Humpday”

Mark Duplass Braves “Humpday” (photo)

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When writer/director Lynn Shelton first asked Mark Duplass to star in a movie about two straight buddies who drunkenly challenge one another to make an amateur porno together (then in the sober light of day refuse to back down), he was unconvinced: “When I heard that pitch, I was like, ‘I don’t think this movie is going to work.” Shelton eventually won him over, and Duplass came to believe his uncertainty about the premise enhanced the finished film. “And we encourage that in our audience members,” he adds. “If you’re skeptical about how this can work, come see the movie. We were really skeptical and kept the reality of human interaction under the microscope the whole time.”

Duplass is best known for his work with his brother Jay, as half of the writing/directing/producing team behind the low-budget (some might say mumblecore) indies “The Puffy Chair” and “Baghead.” He started appearing in his own films out of economic necessity, but those roles have spawned a thriving side career acting in other directors’ projects. His performance in Shelton’s “Humpday,” a unique and moving twist on the classic buddy comedy, may be his best yet: low-key but heartfelt, funny without being jokey and, despite his early reservations, totally believable.

I spoke with Duplass at the offices of “Humpday” distributor Magnolia Pictures, in a conference room with a table, some chairs, and a “Humpday” poster featuring a picture of Duplass and co-star Joshua Leonard stripped to the waist. Asked about the image, Duplass nonchalantly replied, “The post-high school athlete body is funny.”

I read that some of the takes in “Humpday” were around 40 minutes long. Is that right?

Some of the takes were 50 minutes to an hour. Most were shorter than that. Take the scene where Andrew first comes in and we sit and have our conversation in the basement — those were 20-minute takes. Then Lynn and Nat Sanders, the editor, sift through and find the good stuff.

And you’re not going over the same things? It’s one long conversation?

Occasionally, it’ll come back to certain similar things. But they’re usually long conversations, and then we say “Okay, let’s do that again, just shorter.” And then Lynn will maybe pick some her favorite things that she liked and we’ll try to hit those.

Do you like working that way?

I love it. That conversation between Ben and Andrew would normally take 40 minutes. You have to condense it down to four or five for cinema, but it’s nice to do it for real once and feel what it is. In essence, you’re living as the characters for a moment. I don’t direct my actors that way in my own movies, but I really like doing it as an actor.

07062009_Humpday1.jpgWith “The Hurt Locker” coming out, I just rewatched “Point Break.” And there a few times in that movie where Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze look like they want to kiss.


Do you think the issues about masculinity and sexuality addressed in “Humpday” are the subtext of a lot of buddy movies?

I think the “Point Break” stuff is absolutely accidental and more about those guys taking themselves very seriously, which also happens to look like the “I want to fuck you” face. But I do think there’s something in the zeitgeist now about sensitive dude interaction. Now, it’s socially applauded for a man to be sensitive with his friends. I don’t know why that is, [but] there’s definitely something about the confusion of how to express the nature of that intimacy in this movie.

Ben and Andrew have a very complex relationship. They were those kids in college who were a bundle of dreams and ideals together. They were going to conquer the world. So no matter where they’ve gone in their lives, whenever they see each other, they’re going to remember that they’re no longer as idealistic as they were then. There’s a desire to be with each other because they want to feel some sense of that. All that weird stuff gets jumbled up and somehow parlays itself into this completely ridiculous idea that they will have sex with each other on 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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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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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.