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DID YOU READ

The Coens join the one-a-year club.

The Coens join the one-a-year club. (photo)

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The announcement that the Coen brothers’ “True Grit” will be with us by Christmas means the Coens have managed to release a new movie every year for four years in a row. This places them in a weird, elite club of filmmakers who really have nothing in common besides their uncommon productivity.

The list includes Woody Allen (who hasn’t had a year off since 1981), Clint Eastwood (who compensated for missing 2005 and and 2007 by putting out two movies in ’06 and ’08), Werner Herzog (pretty much the same since 1995, TV and shorts included) and the infamously prolific Steven Soderbergh (14 movies since 1998, plus one short and 10 episodes of “K Street”).

Their reasons are all different: Allen’s compulsive by nature (in an interview buried in the poorly indexed archives of the Austin American-Statesman, I remember him comparing his one-a-year pace to someone in a lunatic asylum weaving hand-baskets to keep steady). Eastwood — something of an auteurist hero these days for American critics looking for a successor of Hollywood classicism and professionalism — is in the mold of the old-school directors he admires, who cranked the hits out within the studio system. Herzog’s just got too many places in the world he’d like to visit, too many things to see. And Soderbergh has too many radically different formal approaches he’d like to try.

It’s interesting and instructive that a lot of Hollywood hacks don’t work this fast, even though what they’re doing is (we presume) a lot easier, and certainly less risky. Because one thing all these filmmakers do have in common is that they don’t really make hits, at least not consistently; the fact they generally make medium-budget films actually makes things harder on them. With whatever perseverance and skill they have, they’ve managed not to let that slow them down.

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Making movies is no longer as fast as it used to be. One of the marvelous things about the old school Hollywood auteurs is how much of their work there is to explore, if one is so inclined. By contrast, Tarantino’s one of the best we have, and we’ll be lucky if he leaves us with, say, 10 movies before he conks out or quits, whichever comes first. Like Tarantino, we shouldn’t expect a voluminous oeuvre from the Andersons (P.T. and Wes), either, because they work very, very slowly just in the writing phase.

That’s a shame. There’s something to be said for working steadily, even if a lot of what emerges is imperfect or half-assed, but I fear P.T. Anderson may never make the unadulterated masterpiece he clearly has in him at the rate of three films a decade. I’ve been mixed-ish on the last two Coen brothers films — and about half their films, really — but I’m glad they keep at it; the more they do, the clearer the picture gets.

[Photos: “True Grit,” Paramount, 1969; “Punch-Drunk Love,” Sony, 2002.]

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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.