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DID YOU READ

The seven strangest faces of Gary Oldman.

The seven strangest faces of Gary Oldman. (photo)

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When I first saw the trailer for “The Book of Eli,” I thought “Wow, that bad guy looks familiar, but I can’t place him.” It was irritating. Then I looked it up and realized it was Gary Oldman, and the reason I didn’t recognize him is because we almost never see his real face. Almost certainly one of the most talented actors in the world today — one of the few who doesn’t make radical transformations for a role as a stunt — Oldman keeps himself fresh precisely because it’s sometimes hard to remember what he looks like when you take off all the makeup and facial fair. His makeovers are like no one else’s. Here’s seven of his strangest:

Drexl Spivey, “True Romance” (1993)

Even people like me who don’t like “True Romance” too much — Tony Scott amps up Tarantino’s worst aspects, though Tarantino himself was a big fan — have to bow before the flawless conceit of Oldman as a dreadlocked pimp and all-round bad guy speaking some kind of accent only he thinks is right and discoursing on the genius of “The Mack.” Tarantino’s received much (understandable) flack for his unapologetic co-opting of African-American culture and loaded epithets; Oldman’s genius, for once, gives him a plausible white stand-in with the same issues, equal parts convincing and ridiculous. (It goes without saying this is NSFW.)

Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, “The Fifth Element” (1997)

Luc Besson’s super-expensive pièce de résistance — all $80 million is on-screen — if you’re going to make the most expensive film in French history (to date, anyway), this is the way to do it. But giving all the special effects a run for their money is Oldman: half his head is shaved and covered by a translucent plate, the other half is a slicked-over cowlick, and the voice is an unlikely tribute to H. Ross Perot.

Buford Dill, “Nobody’s Baby” (2001)

This is an obscure vehicle in which Gary Oldman and Skeet Ulrich are given equal billing, which speaks for itself. (Direct to DVD? Indeed.) The real story, apparently, is Oldman as one “Buford Dill,” a criminal with mutton chops tucked beneath a cowboy hat. The plot apparently involves Oldman and Ulrich taking care of a baby rescued from a car crash while the quirky denizens of the local trailer park help out. Below, watch Oldman do a weird little dance on someone’s lawn; if you stick it out to the end of the movie, apparently you get to see Oldman and Mary Steenburgen line-dancing. Maybe I should rent this.

Mason Verger, “Hannibal” (2001)

In the original theatrical release of “Hannibal,” Oldman isn’t even in the credits; depending on who you believe, that’s either because he threw a violent hissy-fit when his request to be equally billed alongside Julianne Moore and Anthony Hopkins was denied, or (according to him) a tacit acknowledgment of his shape-shifting ways. Either way, with a violently mauled face that would render anyone unrecognizable, Oldman camps it up in one of the few true guilty pleasures I have. This is a movie so fearsomely inept that it uses the “Goldberg Variations” as Hannibal’s motif, “The Blue Danube” as Verger’s, and simply plays them both at the same time when they meet.

Rolfe, “Tiptoes” (2003)

The legendarily misguided “Tiptoes” stars Matthew McConaughey as the only person in his family who isn’t a dwarf, causing all kinds of angst about how to break the news to fiancée Kate Beckinsale (playing Jewish!) and concern whether he should extend the family tree. Oldman shrinks to play a little person, or rather the entire performance has the actor kneeling with prosthetics. For once, the effort may not have been worth it. Not because he isn’t convincing (when isn’t he?), but because we’re supposed to believe he’s McConaughey’s twin brother.

Commissioner Gordon, “Batman Begins” (2005)/“The Dark Knight” (2008)

In the life imitates art category: correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t really remember Gary Oldman rocking a thick, plushy mustache before the Batman franchise was rebooted. In my mind’s eye, a recognizable Oldman is basically an Oldman without facial hair, whether he’s a British soccer hooligan or Lee Harvey Oswald. But after the Batman movies, you can see him rocking Gordon’s thick ‘stache extracurricularly on a regular basis. Or maybe the fact that he wore it to “The Book of Eli”‘s premiere speaks to his commitment to a third Batman film. Surely, you don’t think Oldman would be so shameful as to use a fake mustache?

Gary Oldman, “Greg The Bunny” (2002)

Okay, so this is Oldman as himself (although even that’s kind of disorienting), but it’s too good to leave off. This is the best “Hamlet” audition you’ll ever see.

[Photo: “The Book of Eli,” Warner Bros., 2010.]

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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.