DID YOU READ

Cornell Boxes

Cornell Boxes (photo)

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Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson has a completely distinctive way of making movies — which translates to, he’s fortunate enough to have happened on a visual vocabulary that’s at the same time unique and deadpan and invigorating. Famously, Andersson has made only four features in over 40 years; after the failure of his second, 1975’s “Giliap,” he “retired” and spent over two decades going gangbusters as a commercial director, and developed his distinctive style, a kind of full-frontal, cold-blooded Beckettian art-comedy. Only in 2000, with “Songs from the Second Floor,” did Andersson decide the dry one-shot trope that was so funny in TV ads could work differently, mordantly, at length, and could build a feature.

Shot in wide angle from a personal-space-respecting distance in a fluorescent-lit world of moldy green pastels and ashen-faced zombie-humans acting out the absurd machinations of modern life, Andersson’s mature films make his dyspeptic Scando-brother Aki Kaurismäki look like Baz Luhrmann by comparison. Yet they’re funny and ecstatic, a parade of little Cornell boxes of life, coincidence, bad fortune and hope. “You, the Living,” his latest, is almost the shadow side of the previous film’s apocalypse-on-the-march tableaux; the world is the same, but instead of absurd dread, there’s a hesitant sense of jubilation and forgiveness.

01122010_YoutheLiving2.jpgAndersson’s movies are so mysterious and rigorous that they demand you use words like that — words that imply a vision of humanity larger than just a filmgoing experience. In this world, the various characters we meet often speak directly to us, sometimes about their dreams, which are then revealed as well, in real time. All the while, we see these people in entire rooms, and there’s no hurry.

A man stuck in a drizzly traffic jam shouts at us from his car, telling us about a dream that we then see, and which ends badly, in the electric chair. Desolate musicians abound, practicing their tubas and bass drums at home and driving their neighbors insane, and they reappear endlessly, playing at funerals and in parades in which other characters participate, before meeting to practice and ripping into a Dixie riff during a hellacious lightning storm. (It seems like a mildly random attack of scenarios at first, but see it twice and it suddenly appears to have a very tight weave.)

A young waif recounts her daydreamy crush on a local club-band guitarist, and her dream is a showstopper: the two are newlyweds, and as the hyper-coiffed rocker vamps on his axe, the whole apartment block they’re in motors across the landscape like a train, eventually pulling into a station where a crowd of hundreds congratulates them. All of this in one shot, of course. “You, the Living” is all set-piece, all the time — it doesn’t tell a story so much as tracks the fissures in everyday life.

01122010_YoutheLiving3.jpgBut Andersson’s single-shot wonders are not just digitized-Steadicam maneuvers, but the results of extraordinary orchestration, as well as fascinating spatial depth and expert comic timing. (A priceless moment involves a portly caller knocking on a door and presenting a bouquet, only to have the door slammed right on the flowers, leaving them sticking out into the air as the schmuck mopes away.)

It’s the kind of movie that could have a character pickpocketed right in plain view, and because you’re looking elsewhere, you’re not aware of it anymore than he is. The physical dynamics of the film reminded me of what’s possible with expertly timed stop-motion animation — but of course Andersson’s canvas is huge and human, and sometimes involves entire city blocks. The movie redefines “bittersweet” as a qualifier — it’s 80% cacao, and what sugar there is burnt and half-fermented, and bites your throat.

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Radio Al

Listen to “Weird Al” Talk About Meeting Paul McCartney on Kevin & Bean

Weird Al comes to Comedy Bang! Bang! starting June 3rd at 11P on IFC.

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We’re days away from Friday’s grand premiere of “Weird Al” Yankovic as the newest bandleader for Comedy Bang! Bang!and ol’ Al has been making the rounds to promote it. In addition to his guest spot on the CB!B! podcast, Al also stopped by the “Kevin & Bean Podcast” on KROQ to chat about the new gig, jamming with Alice Cooper in Hawaii (presumably Cooper’s natural habitat), and the one celebrity around whom he can’t maintain his composure.

Give a listen to “Weird Al” on the “Kevin & Bean Podcast” below.

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Weird Cast

Listen to “Weird Al” Talk about Working With Scott Aukerman on the Comedy Bang! Bang! Podcast

"Weird Al" comes to Comedy Bang! Bang! this Friday at 11P on IFC

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Days before his grand debut as the newest Comedy Bang! Bang! bandleader, “Weird Al” Yankovic appeared on the CB!B! podcast to chat with host and comedy cohort Scott Aukerman about the new gig, what it’s like being on a TV set after a 20-year hiatus, his Mandatory Fun World Tour, and his new version of the theme song. Al also drops some details about an upcoming boxed set containing rare songs and other goodies.

Check out “Weird Al” on the latest episode of the Comedy Bang! Bang! podcast below, and be sure to catch him on the season premiere of Comedy Bang! Bang! this Friday at 11P on IFC. This week Scott and Al welcome guests Kevin Bacon and The Lonely Island on back-to-back episodes.

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Joke Off

10 Jokes That Prove Andy Kindler Is One of The Best Stand-Ups Working Today

Catch Andy on a brand new Maron Wednesday at 9P on IFC.

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While fans of IFC may know Andy Kindler as one of Marc’s snarky pals on Maron, he’s also one of the hardest working stand-ups in the biz. With his sarcastic take on pop culture and self deprecating style, Andy’s carved out a unique corner of the comedy sphere. Before you catch Andy on a brand new Maron this Wednesday at 9P, check out a few of his best jokes that’ll remind you you’re not the only one who thinks the world is nuts.

10. Andy has some self esteem issues.

Andy Kindler
Worldwide Pants


9. Okay, he kind of hates himself.

Andy Kindler
Conaco


8. Still, he has important points to make.

Andy Kindler
Comedy Central


7. And he knows how to party.

Andy Kindler


6. He just gets people.

Andy Kindler


5. And he’s open to new experiences.

Andy Kindler
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4. And he has his priorities straight.

Andy Kindler
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3. He’s more of a glass is half empty type of guy.

Andy Kindler
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2. Seriously, he’s not a happy person.

Andy Kindler
Worldwide Pants


1. But at least he has his hobbies.

Andy Kindler
Conaco

Watch Andy visit Marc in the “Dead Son Museum” this Wednesday at 9P on IFC.

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