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The Long Tale of “The Snake”

The Long Tale of “The Snake” (photo)

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If the end of the year is a time to reflect on mistakes made and relationships lost (and of course, the good stuff, too), there may not be a better way to start the new year than with a screening of “The Snake,” a wicked little low-budget comedy about a scoundrel whose transgressions in the dating scene and life in general will instantly improve one’s outlook for themselves in ’10. Not to mention that it’s very, very funny.

“The Snake” is the feature debut of Eric Kutner and Adam Goldstein, the latter of whom also stars as Ken, the mustachioed scoundrel in question, who infiltrates a support group for females with body image issues after becoming fixated on bedding a bulimic and proceeds to alienate every member with his boorish behavior. Shot on nights and weekends over the course of six months in San Francisco, “The Snake” caught the attention of Patton Oswalt, who presented it in a one-off screening at SXSW last spring before it laid low and was bandied about in conversations about the film festival discoveries of ’09. Now, the film is available online and on demand and I caught up with Kutner and Goldstein to talk about the film’s evolution, the etiquette of second-act vomiting and being considered part of mumblecore.

Did you guys actually develop the character before starting on a screenplay or did the screenplay came first?

EK: What kind of came first was the title of the film. I remember when the title first occurred to me, I was in New York and I was talking with this girl and a friend of mine was actually at the bar as well with his girlfriend at the time and while the girlfriend was outside having a smoke, he pulled the number of this girl I had met. I told this story later to my uncle, and my uncle said, “he’s the snake.” And I thought — that’s a really interesting title for a film, that would be an interesting character.

01042010_TheSnake1.jpgAG: Yes, the character evolved first — that was the thing we focused on. How we could put all our sexually oriented neuroses and libido issues into one vessel. [laughs]

EK: In writing the character of Ken, we always knew that Adam would be playing him. Adam is not Clive Owen. The movie was not going to be “Alfie.”

AG: Yes, we weren’t about to cast me as a sexy lothario who makes all women weak in the knees and all men admire him every time he struts past. It was going to be a guy who tried really hard, and it was potentially a little sad.

If you were shooting for over a year, did you go all Daniel Day-Lewis for the part, Adam?

AG: No, but there are aspects of the character that seep into your life. And then bear in mind that I had to wear that hairstyle and mustache for like six, eight months and if you think people didn’t look at me like I was a total fucking creep, you’d be wrong. [laughs]

EK: That was a difficult moment, when we were going to take a little time to work on the edit and scenes we need to reshoot, and I was like, “Adam, you’ve got to keep that mustache. Don’t shave the mustache!” And Adam was like, “please let me cut this off! Pleeeease.”

01052010_thesnakerules.jpgYou also famously made a set of rules for things you didn’t want to have in your film. Why was that important?

EK: We were working in a genre that doesn’t exactly exist, but [would best be described as] the reforming of a cad. He’s going to grow a bit, he’s going to learn a bit. In looking at a lot of [similar] movies, we could see all kinds of things we wanted to avoid because they felt false.

AG: We had a rule for “no vomiting,” and what we meant by that was oftentimes we found in independent films about a tortured personality, somewhere towards the end of the second act, they’re going to have a really rough night and throw up. That’ll somehow be indicative of the fact that they’re going to purge. It’s also going to show that they’re bottom of the barrel. How pathetic and bestial can they be? Oh, they’re lying in a pool of their own wretch. So we’re like — let’s not do that scene.


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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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.