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DID YOU READ

“Smash His Camera,” but this picture will last a lifetime.

“Smash His Camera,” but this picture will last a lifetime. (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

“He does for the living what Weegee did for the dead” is how one talking head in Leon Gast’s “Smash His Camera” explains Ron Galella, the notorious ur-paparazzo famous both for his striking candids of celebrities across the decades and his relentless pursuit of his glamorous quarries. It’s an apt description; much as Weegee’s photographs turned the gritty streets and crime scenes of the Naked City into something resembling a Martian landscape, Galella’s shots enhance the otherworldly nature of fame, even as they pretend to demystify it. Maybe that’s the biggest difference between Galella’s heyday and today’s – those “Celebs: They’re Just Like Us!” photos of Jessica Simpson buying a Big Gulp have none of the surreal, untouchable allure of Jackie Onassis crossing the street. (The former first lady and fashion icon was never lovelier or more mysterious than in Galella’s 1974 “Windblown Jackie,” which the photographer rightfully describes as his Mona Lisa.)

For all its fascination with glamour and the larger-than-life persona of Galella, Gast’s jaunty, charming documentary is deceptively complex, tackling big issues with effortless clarity. The subject is certainly fun to watch, but to what extent is what he does an invasion of privacy – and what does that word even mean? (Constitutional lawyer Floyd Abrams points out that there is no general right to privacy in American law.) In watching the photographer do his thing, and in letting him regale us with his tales of run-ins with celebs, Gast makes it clear that Galella was an integral part of a celebrity feedback loop that made the rich and famous even more famous and probably richer, too. Maybe that’s why Jackie O was the one who actually went so far as to sue the photographer; as recounted here — when questioned during the trial if she was a public person, her response was a matter-of-fact “No.” She was one celebrity who tragically didn’t ask for her notoriety.

It also helps that the photos are, in a word, magnificent. In a scene late in the film, Gast’s camera follows a teenage girl as she peruses a gallery filled with Galella’s photos. The girl doesn’t know any of these people: Steve McQueen, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Henry Kissinger, they’re all strangers to her. But she does seem taken with the photos themselves. Gast seems to suggest something here about the impermanence of celebrity and the lasting nature of art: These glorious pictures may wind up being all that remains of these mythical, untouchable deities, long after their names have scattered into the wind.

“Smash His Camera” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

[Photos: “Smash His Camera,” Got the Shot Productions, 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.