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DID YOU READ

“Twelve,” i.e. “Poor Little Rich Kids, Waanh-Waaaaanh”

“Twelve,” i.e. “Poor Little Rich Kids, Waanh-Waaaaanh” (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Directed by Joel Schumacher (“Batman and Robin,” “The Lost Boys”), “Twelve” is unquestionably the funniest film at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival; if only it had been made with that intention. “Twelve”‘s ham-handed ineptitude is part of the joke — on Schumacher, on audiences and on any distributor brave or foolish enough to pick it up in an attempt to turn this sow’s ear into a camp classic. Based on the novel by Nick McDonell, “Twelve” follows a group of poor little rich kids on Manhattan’s Upper East Side as they deal and/or do drugs in an effort to fill the emotional voids in their privileged lives. It is not merely that, in the age of “Gossip Girl” (which shares actor Chace Crawford with “Twelve”), the wicked behavior of pretty boys and girls is fairly played out; this stuff was milked dry decades ago by better writers like Bret Easton Ellis (“The Rules of Attraction”) and Jay McInerney (“Bright Lights, Big City”) and in better films. Lowering the age of the protagonists and upping the depravity of the conduct is not ripping the veil off of a hidden world; it’s skeevy pandering, a ‘How low can you go?’ exercise in attention-getting.

Crawford plays White Mike, a familiar literary figure — the sad drug dealer who doesn’t use, wandering the streets of Manhattan with a coat full of weed, a heavy heart and immaculately tousled hair. We first meet White Mike as our gravelly, omniscient narrator (Kiefer Sutherland) tells us exactly what White Mike is thinking and feeling in the wake of his mother’s death. Our narrator will do so with every character who crosses our path — the hottest girl in school, the sensitive mama’s boy, the ‘roided-out rage case and even Molly (Emma Roberts), the true love of White Mike’s life. But White Mike can’t talk to Molly, since he’s a drug dealer, and she comes from a better world than that; we know this because at one point we see her calling White Mike sitting among falling autumnal leaves in a blue gingham dress.

01242010_Twelve4.jpgMuch of the plot of “Twelve” involves a fictional new street drug — called, yes, “Twelve,” which is apparently instantaneously addictive and a lot of fun; Schumacher shows the drug’s pernicious effects in a scene where Jessica (Emily Meade) sprawls out in a fur coat and lingerie while her childhood collection of teddy bears exhorts her to go on a killing spree. I am not making this up, nor could I. As events culminate in a big blowout party that ends in tragedy, the cumulative effect is like a mix of “Elephant” and “Can’t Hardly Wait,” as Claude (Billy Magnussen) opens fire on the crowd at the birthday bash queen bee Sara (Esti Ginzburg) has flattered and seduced Claude’s mama’s boy brother Chris (Rory Culkin) into hosting while his parents are away.

Schumacher’s ambitions and pretentions are in a breakneck race to the bottom here. Occasionally, for moments of even deeper portent, we’ll see characters and a few stark props recreate past events against a blinding white background, suggesting Schumacher has at least heard of Bertolt Brecht, or maybe someone described “Dogville” to him once somewhere.

01242010_Twelve5.jpgSchumacher, at 70, is kidding himself if he thinks he has any attachment to or understanding of the lives of real teens, and screenwriter Jordan Melamed’s adaptation results in a final product that feels less like a film than a book-on-tape played over a well-shot sparkling wine commercial, as pretty things prance and cavort while the narrator’s gravelly, all-knowing tones tell us of the sadness and doom they face. It’s good to have it confirmed that Schumacher is incapable of making any film work regardless of scope, scale, genre or intent; from big-budget blockbusters to small indies, horror films to heartwarming dramas, he’s failed in every conceivable arena. “Twelve” is one of those Sundance flops so full and complete that it’s sure to be the stuff of legend; the only thing that made my laughter stop was contemplating which actual film didn’t get into the Festival when Schumacher’s tired, wired, “Requiem for a Gossip Girl,” been-there-done-that high-gloss phony fantasy of truly bad behavior and truly great haircuts could be undeservedly elevated, literally and figuratively, by screening it at Sundance.

“Twelve” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

[Photos: “Twelve,” Gaumont/Original Media/Radar Pictures, 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.