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Storming the Streets

Storming the Streets (photo)

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Somehow, there hardly seems a more pertinent time for a wide U.S. release of Patricio Guzmán’s epochal “The Battle of Chile” (1975-78), a massive, three-part vérité documentary about the rise of Salvador Allende’s socialist government and its subsequent usurpation by the country’s American-backed military junta.

The title of Part 1 — “The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie” — says it all: imagine, if you can, the heaven-sent Bizarro-world where a people-power government is successfully installed, triumphantly wresting control of the starving nation’s major industries and resources from corporations and multinationals, and thereby precipitating an overt and covert insurrection led by the business owners and bankers and moneyed class.

You know a truly democratic, for-the-people policy is working if you enrage the wealthy, a rare situation that smacks, lightly, of what’s happening in this country at the moment, as Republicans and corporations have gone berserk trying to stop Obama from poking holes in the pockets of the health insurance industry. It resembles as well the Satanic makeover Hugo Chavez gets in the American media, for essentially pulling an Allende on the multinationals coveting Venezuelan oil.

But, of course, what happened in Chile could never happen here, as Guzmán’s scathing work demonstrates — this movie documents a degree of active engagement you hardly see anymore: entire city populations storming the streets time and time again, first students, then suited businessmen, then tanks and trucks full of banner-waving workers and singing crowds and, eventually, armed troops, firing at will. But when it does happen nowadays, as it did earlier this year in Iran, it’s shut down almost immediately, and we see precious little of it in any case. Controlling the media message is controlling everything, but because the right-wing coup in Chile was caught in the process of happening, there was no control at all.

12082009_battleofchile5.jpgIn a broader sense, Guzmán was shooting his on-the-shoulder footage in a different day, on the final cusp of the Vietnam War protest era, when authorities public and private hadn’t yet learned exactly how vital disallowing on-location documentary filmmaking — or at least embedding it — was to their interests and their grip on power.

This freedom gives “Battle” an eye-scorching immediacy that docs just don’t have anymore, forced as they are lately to rely on library footage, interviews and news film already pressed through the censorship filters. Guzmán and his team were free to film, but of course they were also free to be shot on the spot (Part 1 ends, famously, with soldiers aiming directly at the lens filming them and shooting down the man behind the camera), and to be arrested, tortured and killed later by Pinochet’s death squads, which is how Guzmán’s main DP, Jorge Müller Silva, died.

Of course, Guzmán’s widely circulated film didn’t change anything anyway — Pinochet gained and retained control, history rolled forward without Allende, and the corpses of the disappeared accumulated in Chile. All of this is circumstantial in regards to “Battle,” and it ignores Guzmán’s achievement, which is not merely a fact of courage under fire, but of storytelling precision.

Over the course of almost five hours, the film scrupulously details every step in the political tangle, beginning with Allende’s successes and the business confederations’ subsequent strikes and embargoes, starving the country, to the final blitzing, on September 11, 1973, of the presidential palace, reducing it, Allende and the Chilean dream of social equity, to rubble.

12082009_battleofchile2.jpgThat the CIA and the Pentagon were behind the insurrection may still be an arguable and semi-classified matter here, but virtually every laborer Guzmán meets on the streets of Santiago in 1973 says as much, in no uncertain terms. (“[O]f course the newspapers are bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown…” Kissinger was recorded telling Nixon in 1973, in conversations declassified in 2004 and easily found online, “I mean, instead of celebrating… In the Eisenhower period we would be heroes.”)

Co-produced by Chris Marker, Guzmán’s historic epic creates a storm in the belly, even today. In the brick-thick Icarus set, it’s accompanied by Guzmán’s 1997 doc “Chile, Obstinate Memory,” which plays as merely another brick in the edifice Guzmán has devoted his career to building, a monument to the catastrophe of Chilean political life in the last half of the 20th century. As with all vital documentaries, one can only dream of a world where they are viewed and acted upon by a conscientious public.


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.