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“Sympathy for Delicious,” The Stain makes mixed debut at Sundance

“Sympathy for Delicious,” The Stain makes mixed debut at Sundance (photo)

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Some of the reviews of Mark Ruffalo’s directing debut, “Sympathy for Delicious” remind me of 09’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” season premiere – which centered around a crime committed in the midst of a bohemian Brooklyn loft populated by young musicians. As you can imagine, the creators of that series were not up to the task of portraying such a world with any kind of realism and the whole thing was a terrible joke (I had to watch it to see Jeff Goldblum, and endless source of amusement, introduced into the series).

The whole thing relied on a muddled catalogue of bad hipster cliches and weak musician stereotypes. Worse, they were all totally outdated, as if the writers had only ever observed young people from behind tinted windows while moving at 25mph down Bedford avenue – cause that’s where they were told hip artists hang out, when really, it’s just an outdoor strip mall and tourist gallery.

I fear something similar is at work in “Sympathy for Delicious” even though the team has some serious cred. I have every faith that Orlando Bloom can play a convincing, self absorbed rocker who goes by the stage name, The Stain. Screenwriter Christopher Thornton also plays the role of the paralyzed, DJ Delicious, who discovers he has the power of healing – Thornton is actually paralyzed in real life, a fact many reviewers seem to be missing. But how well can he imagine a convincing group of rockers?

“The band and its milieu are drawn in such broad strokes, as an amalgam of rock-star cliches, that “Sympathy” has a hard time portraying the moral crisis Delicious faces in a realistic way. The caricatures are particularly jarring given the strong realist notes hit by other production elements, like Chris Norr’s artful cinematography,” writes John Defore in The Hollywood Reporter.

“The rockers consequently all slather on eyeliner, wear tight leather pants and swig hard liquor straight from the bottle and talk in a borderline nonsensical hipster patois,” Nathan Rabin at the A.V. Club seethes. “In a magnificently awful, scenery-chewing performance Orlando Bloom does a terrible impersonation of both John Lennon and Jim Morrison while Juliette Lewis devolves into sad self-parody as the group’s pill-addled bassist.”

From what I’ve seen I doubt it’s quite that bad, but I can’t argue with some of the facts. However Filmmaker magzine’s Brandon Harris had a much more positive take, “Ruffalo provides us with a truly unlikable protagonist who only earns our sympathy after some hard won lessons in selflessness and grace. While juggling the metaphysical and realistic, Ruffalo manages to steer his high and easily derailed concept to a satisfying ending.”

Montreal psyche band,The Besnard Lakes, lend their musical talents to the score. Frankly, that and from what I’ve seen of Bloom parading about as The Stain have me sold. I trust in Ruffalo and admittedly, rock and roll cliches are somewhat entertaining. I like my rockstars boozing and pill popping and all fucked up. It’s only a question of how authentic it feels.


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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GIFs via Giphy

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.