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DID YOU READ

When “Fight Club” and “Shawshank” push Hitch to take a hike.

When “Fight Club” and “Shawshank” push Hitch to take a hike. (photo)

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The other day Big Hollywood took some time out of ranting about how Obama destroyed class (again please?) to post something so idiotic even the site’s commenters weren’t having it. went too far even for the commenters who love to rant about cultural elites ramming David Lynch down our throats or something. In a post on the “Top 10 Most Overrated Directors of All Time,” young Ben Shapiro (a kind of twentysomething Bernard Goldberg) started with Ridley Scott and ended up with Hitchcock at #1(!). In between were, among others, David Lean and Darren Aronofsky, back-to-back.

Dwelling on the list’s stupidity at any length is self-evidently unnecessary (though Victor Morton does so interestingly elsewhere). But what was interesting was the assumption that the playing field had been leveled so fast; that you could, in fact, equate the reputations of Lean and Aronofsky (or, hell, Scott and Hitchcock) and find them equally overrated (or great).

Absurd on its face, perhaps, yet it’s absolutely true to my short-lived time in film school. The first thing I learned when I got to NYU is that the overwhelming majority of the students didn’t really care about anything older than, say, “Wayne’s World.” And that a lot of them were drawing the outer parameters of art cinema at “Lost in Translation” probably shouldn’t have surprised me.

What did surprise me was that a lot of the professors didn’t seem to be much better informed. I took a mandatory screenwriting class where we watched “Wall Street” because it’s apparently a perfectly structured movie. (Maybe in some kind of Platonic structural sense, but it’s still stupid.) Later on, we watched “The Usual Suspects,” our professor pausing every so often to announce where the act breaks and plot beats were; in the room right next door, with the music bleeding and overlapping, was a class on film scores, also focusing on “The Usual Suspects.” Which — I mean this nicely — is nowhere close to being one of the great films of all time, or our time, or the ’90s, or even 1995.

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Nonetheless, it’s part of a certain group of movies produced in the last 20 years or so have somehow achieved parity with a small, select group of movies still in circulation as The Classics (“Citizen Kane,” “The Godfather,” “Rear Window,” maybe “The Graduate,” if you’re feeling artsy). You know the ones: the collected Tarantinos, “Fight Club,” “Memento,” “Requiem For A Dream,” “Snatch,” “Garden State” (though there may have been a backlash since I left school), and of course that crowning masterpiece of our times, “The Shawshank Redemption.”

I don’t really mean to be a snot: I’m on team Tarantino in a big way, and as far as “Fight Club” goes, it’s aged a lot better than I’d expected. But how these came to be the tightly-packed set of movies found in recurring clusters on people’s Facebook profiles, I don’t know.

Shapiro’s post is laughable for all kinds of reasons, but it’s symptomatic in a very real way: there is a whole generation of people my age and younger who really think these movies aren’t just prospective canon candidates but are the canon. And it’s not just a lack of historical perspective if a lot of the professors are agreeing with them — which they are — it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

[Photos: Alfred Hitchcock public-domain via Wikipedia; “The Usual Suspects,” MGM Home Entertainment, 1995.]

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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.