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DID YOU READ

Ways to object to “Precious.”

Ways to object to “Precious.” (photo)

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For anyone familiar with habitual barnburner Armond White and his politics, it’s zero surprise that the NY Press critic objects strenuously to “Precious.”

His review of the film has, as usual, much food for the comment trolls, particularly in his insistence that, by attaching their names and confessing personal histories of abuse, Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey are converting “their private agendas into heavily hyped social preoccupation,” which I guess means… child abuse is really just another way for a couple of whiny celebrities to beg for attention? He also compares “Precious” to “The Birth of a Nation” and does a good job of hiding the fact that he does have a point — any movie that features a morbidly obese black woman stealing a bucket of fried chicken probably isn’t as nuanced as it thinks it is.

Just to make sure he alienates any potential allies, though, White saves his best salvo for the last paragraph, reminding everyone that no matter how much he dislikes any given movie, he hates his fellow critics more. The same Armond who instructed us not to trust any critic who endorsed “WALL-E” (effectively all of them) says that what was even worse than “Precious” itself was “the ordeal of watching it with an audience full of patronizing white folk at the New York Film Festival.” He then proceeds to commit his semi-factual error for the week, proclaiming his certainty that the crowd at Harlem’s Magic Johnson theater would laugh it off the screen; would that be the same theater where it was test-screened pre-Sundance and widely acclaimed? Yup. Arguing this on strictly racial lines won’t work.

Still, I have to concede a point to Mr. White — there do seem to be plenty of guilty white liberal critics signing off on this movie for reasons other than pure admiration, as patiently spelled out by the L Magazine‘s Mark Asch. Even the judicious pan from Slate‘s Dana Stevens’ hedges its bets in the headline with an apologetic “Sorry, I didn’t like this movie.”

Meanwhile, way to the right of Armond sits a Wall Street Journal editorial by Juan Williams, which is about how awesome “The Cosby Show” was and how terrible ghetto literature is and how it encourages pathological images of blackness sold back to the community. Basically, it’s like an episode of “The Boondocks” without the jokes. But you could substitute pretty much any cultural artifact Williams disapproves of for “Precious” and have the same ready-made editorial.

Still, my favorite objection to “Precious” is an entirely common-sense one from Newsweek, where, in a brief but well-done piece, Jennie Yabroff points out that Precious loves math class at the start of the movie, but upon entering alternative school is encouraged to journal her life away and never does math again. “The world does not reward self-expression as readily or consistently as it rewards a good head for numbers,” Yabroff scolds, pitilessly dissecting the cliche of self-rehabiliation through journaling. This polemic in favor of math education being celebrated on-screen is actually a far more trenchant analysis of the film than any of the criticism thus far.

[Photo: “Precious: Based on the novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire,” Lions Gate, 2009]

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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.