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DID YOU READ

Corneliu Porumboiu Gets the Last Word

Corneliu Porumboiu Gets the Last Word (photo)

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“Police, Adjective” is one of the year’s most striking films, the type that will be embraced by some and derided by others for its bone dry humor, its solemnly long takes (including scrolling down hand-written police reports) and the fact that its climax pivots on the dictionary definition of “conscience.” It is, in some ways, an extension of Corneliu Porumboiu’s first film, “12:08 East of Bucharest,” which dazzled as much with its debate over the hazy recollections of the Romanian Revolution as with its startling final image of snow falling over the city of Vaslui. “Adjective” is similarly wintry, following the daily grind of a policeman (Dragos Bucur) assigned to follow a student suspected of dealing marijuana to his friends and arriving at a conclusion that leads his boss to pull out the Merriam-Webster’s to convince him otherwise. While at the Toronto Film Festival, Porumboiu took some time to talk about the film’s origins, its mixed reception (including two prizes from this year’s Cannes) and why he needs to start playing sports again. [Spoilers ahead.]

How did “Police, Adjective” come about?

After “12:08,” I started four different stories, but at the end, a friend of mine, a policeman, told me a story, a small case of conscience. And he told me he had a case like [the one in the film], and he didn’t want to solve it. I was touched by a story like that because usually you see the movie and it’s very big cases and all the time, it is possible that policemen can save the world. I [also] heard another story about a brother who betrayed his brother. So these were the two stories that I started with.

12292009_policeadj3.jpg This film suggests that many things are in decay in contemporary Romanian society, but do you feel language in particular has been a catalyst?

No, I think we’re living in a world [where] each [person] has his own individuality, more and more in how we communicate, what are our values. At the same time, there’s a lot of loneliness in my movies; the characters I construct, they are living in a bubble. The starting point [for “Police, Adjective] was how we understand each other, what is the background, what is their representation of the world for each one of us. It’s a world that’s very fragmented and each one has his own truth. For me, it’s a quite absurd if we follow a dictionary because sometimes we can use words to speak to each other and after that, we reuse words and there are so many [words] used, they lose their meaning.

It requires a certain confidence to shoot such long scenes, and it’s been a point of contention among audiences — why did you feel it was necessary for this film?

When I’m making the movie, I don’t think about the audience. I’m interested in finding the spirit of my character. So [in doing research], I saw that the policeman spent so much time waiting and following and at the end, it’s a movie of meanings and sense. It’s real time there, but in my [film], it becomes absurd time – watching, waiting, watching, waiting — that could [demonstrate] a certain psychology that’s unexplainable.

I’ve spoken with a lot of people and [some of them] don’t believe that at the end [the main character is] convinced by his chief [to make the arrest] because his chief gives him the meaning, gives him the sense. A lot of people like to think that he was forced. But I think maybe this kind of audience didn’t enter into the first part of the movie. It’s weird because yeah, the people need the explanation, but for me, it was more important to show character — he’s like a hunter, you see that he’s born for this, he likes what he’s doing, but at the same time, he has this conscience problem and he’s in between and how could he do this.

Much has been made of a Romanian New Wave that includes Cristian Mungiu (“4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days”) and Cristi Puiu (“The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu”), but as a filmmaker, what do you make of that label?

As a director, you choose your own way, you choose your own cinema. Of course, cinema is an art, it’s been around 100 years, so you have a lot of forms, you have a lot of types of cinema. I’m quite strict and I have a point of view of cinema, but at the same time, I’m not feeling that this is the ultimate truth. For me, it’s important to have all these kind of movies. At the same time, I want to find my own voice.

12292009_Corneliu1.jpgHow did you actually get interested in cinema?

First, I was studying management in Bucharest [at the Academy of Economic Studies] and after that, I started to go to the cinematheque and there I discovered Chaplin, Antonioni and after that, Polish cinema and Nouvelle Vague Français and after that, I said I want to do this.

You’re the son of a football referee and I was wondering whether that contributed to your interest in language and rules.

No, I think this obsession is coming more from my mother because she was a Romanian teacher – she’s now retired. And [from] my father, I [played] sports when I was a teenager and this helped in my development. Now, I’m smoking too much and drinking too much coffee, so for me, it was very important I [played] sports when I was a teenager. [laughs] That keeps me alive, even now.

“Police, Adjective” is now open in limited release and available on VOD.

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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.