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DID YOU READ

Looks like film, but it’s not film.

Looks like film, but it’s not film. (photo)

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At the LA Weekly, on-the-verge-of-departure editor Scott Foundas pays Michael Mann a visit on the occasion of the release of “Public Enemies” on DVD. Foundas gets the director to open up a bit about the ways he’s been pushing digital photography into the avant-garde realm while shooting summer action movies.

“The advantage of the technology is in a search for its own aesthetic, not to try to duplicate what you can do on film,” Mann muses. “If I’m going to do that, I may as well shoot film.”

Indeed, though, judging by the underwhelming box office numbers for “Miami Vice” and “Public Enemies,” someone forgot to tell the public, who seem a little mixed about what Mann is doing. Shooting at night, he makes gunshots into startling light bursts, and indelibly captures LA’s afterhours grid in “Collateral.” But sometimes his tendency toward harsh camera movements and deliberate calling of attention to the technology’s inability to keep up the way film does seems less than productive.

Mann’s not the first to use video this way. It’s had its own cinematic following since the ’70s, mostly among boundary-pushers and the underground (Godard, Paul Cox, Rob Nilsson). It was only recently that the technology became both good and cheap enough to be thought of as a replacement for the expensive pain-in-the-ass of film.

Steven Soderbergh’s made a specialty of exploiting primitive digital for all its worth, as early as 2002’s (almost unwatchable) “Full Frontal,” which made a point of pointing out how different it looked from film. Those visuals were unredeemable — he’s since used digital filming for a series of mostly gorgeous movies.

01182010_collateral.jpgMann’s interested in taking digital to a new place — he compares it to architecture:

It’s not an analogue of film — it’s totally different. Just like when they first used steel in architecture, initially it was to make buildings that took their form from masonry buildings, even though they didn’t have to. You didn’t have to have a pediment on the roof, but a lot of early modern architecture, particularly in New York, did.

I think he’s laboring under a misapprehension. What the industry really wants is a flawless digital replacement for film that’ll make moviemaking faster and cheaper. The look of “film” is here to stay, whether or not it’s actually on film. The look of digital will be put to use in music videos and for certain visual flourishes, for effect, but it’s doubtful that it heralds a brave new world.

[Photos: “Public Enemies,” Universal, 2009; “Collateral,” DreamWorks, 2004]

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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.