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DID YOU READ

The right-wing year in film.

The right-wing year in film. (photo)

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Over at The Awl, there’s a grimly funny round-up of altered posters from right-wing message board designed to promote the viewpoint that Barack Hussein Obama is the real “Liar Liar,” Pelosi and Obama are engaged in “Duplicity,” etc. etc. This reminds me that Big Hollywood launched on January 6 of this year, and my life’s never been the same since.

Founded by Andrew Breitbart — who’s trying to do for the blogosphere what Rush Limbaugh does for talk radio in terms of sheer presence, unifying everyone under one wing — Big Hollywood‘s ostensible focus is the intersection of film and politics of the tea-party sort.

This has led to all kinds of insanity, though it didn’t have to be this way. One of the central tenets of BH is that there’s a a “New Blacklist” against conservatives in effect. No matter that Jon Voight, Kelsey Grammer and James Woods’ careers continue apace; it takes “courage” to “come out.” Hence, all kinds of voices are welcomed, no matter how C-list or incoherent.

Ex-“Law and Order” star Michael Moriarty is a recent addition to the roster, though my favorite mainstay is certifiable ex-“SNL” ’80s cast member Victoria Jackson, who writes things like “Obama’s speeches are all fake and they say nothing. Cotton candy for stupid people. But, you Glenn Beck, you are a thinker. Like me. You are unbiased. Like me. You are simply seeking Truth, just like me.”

When the site started, editor-in-chief John Nolte used to review each week’s major releases, but he’s apparently gotten too busy to keep up. So reviews come from every which way, and only a few films have emerged as certifiably free of liberal propaganda and good for American families. Championed, repeatedly and at length, were the early year’s surprise hits “Taken” and “Gran Torino,” something worth thinking about without smirking, at least momentarily.

12072009_taken.jpgOf the many essays BH published on these movies — paragons of political incorrectness, natch, with Eastwood telling it like it is and Liam Neeson kicking some towelhead ass — the definitive ones are probably Leo Grin’s “‘Taken’: The World’s Oldest Profession is Father,” which seriously proposes that a) ” the male of the species is a killer, the keeper of a bloody heroic ideal” b) Liam Neeson is a hero for staring down “the nemesis of everything he holds dear as a Judeo-Christian, as an American, and as a father. Against that evil, blood is the only disinfectant.”

Meanwhile, Representative Thaddeus G. McCotter (R-MI) wrote a whole essay about “‘Gran Torino’ Conservatives,” where he manages to dismiss Clint Eastwood’s character’s racism in precisely one sentence before proposing Walt Kowalski is a “cultural conservative” who “rises to instill order upon disorder to secure justice and liberty within his community. “

Both these readings strike me as ludicrous, but I can see how they’d make ideological sense to die hard self-proclaimed “independents.” These are both undeniably conservative movies. And yet: I suspect the reason they were surprise hits wasn’t because the American public was hungering for a dose of conservative realpolitik in ass-kicking form. In fact, it seems like most audiences viewed most movies as comedies of excess (certainly that was the case at my screening of “Gran Torino”), the same way most of us watch old Charles Bronson movies.

If anything, that reveals the BH mentality in a nutshell: outdated ideas of vengeance and brute masculinity are meant to be taken seriously and unambiguously. That’s what they want every year in film; that’s why “300” and “The Dark Knight” are part of the modern canon.

Oddly, they’re mixed on “The Blind Side” — this year’s big, Christians-are-people-too movie — because of one measly Bush-bashing joke, which gives the game away. Big Hollywood positions itself on the Glenn Beck side of things (obviously), which doesn’t have anything to do with the heartland values it claims for itself; it’s all about kicking ass and taking names for moral righteousness. Happy nearly-one-year anniversary, guys; that best-of list is going to be a doozy.

[Photos: “Gran Torino,” Warner Bros., 2008; “Taken,” Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation, 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.