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Crazy Notions

Crazy Notions (photo)

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You wonder if the Dardenne brothers’ no-bullshit mode of indie filmmaking will ever become over-familiar or even clichéd — it’s so simple that you can imagine scores of filmmakers using it (as of now, only a few have bothered). Honestly, though, the least simple part of it may be the most difficult: getting funding for films that don’t use soundtrack music cues or establishing shots or tidy feel-good plot-arcs.

Luc and Jean-Pierre D. like to drip their narrative information at a rate that leans us forward in our seats — they throw us into the deep end, and in time, we learn to swim. In their new film “Lorna’s Silence,” we’re deep in before we come to understand that the plain, boyish Lorna (Arta Dobroshi), who’s just become a naturalized Belgian, was able to do so because she is in fact married to Claudy (Jérémie Renier), the clingy, emaciated junkie that shares her apartment. We don’t know where she’s from, or who else she knows — until she meets with a cab driver she has no apparent feeling for, and he mentions that if things don’t go according to plan, they could just OD the addict to get him out of the way. Lorna doesn’t blink. Out of the way of what?

The Dardennes are unforgiving, holding out in such ultra-realistic fashion (nobody says anything for our sake, exposition-wise) that watching their films is sometimes like watching a car accident in slow motion. “Lorna” turns out, surprisingly, to be more complicated and repressed than most, centering on Dobroshi’s compromised and actually mildly dislikable heroine, who hides her emotional range so well we never know what she’s thinking. It turns out that Lorna is being set up, in turn, to be the citizenship-free-pass for a mysterious Russian, so she needs a divorce or a widowhood, just as Claudy decides to make a serious go at getting clean.

01152010_LornasSilence2.jpgThe movie begins, like a tight noir, being about money, but then its singular focus, like Lorna’s, gets smudged and shadowed by life and human imperfection. Even when you’re expecting the Dardennes to withhold information from you, and then deliver it out of the corner of your eye, it can still be shocking, making us rerun the film in our heads, and nurse the wounds of our delayed responses.

The real story is actually happening inside Lorna’s head, and we get no clues as to what that might be until the unraveling begins, when the heroine’s fastidiously blank interface with the world begins to crumble. This might be a masterpiece of casting — at first Dobroshi is frustratingly inexpressive and tough to know, and she, with the film, never tries to seduce us.

But as Lorna’s money-driven amorality gives way to love and empathy, in ways you never predict, the plot sorta vanishes, and she becomes a paradigmatic lost Euro girl of the millennium, wandering literally in the wilderness. Masterful though they are, the Dardennes’ movies always run the risk of summing up into morality tales, but “Lorna’s Silence,” like “Rosetta,” becomes something more mysterious, a tragedy blooming into metaphor.


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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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.