This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


What do Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton see in each other?

What do Timur Bekmambetov and Tim Burton see in each other? (photo)

Posted by on

Judging by the early word-of-mouth on “Alice In Wonderland,” maybe I’m not the only one to find post-millennial Tim Burton unwatchable. Next up, Burton’s sitting on top of the unpromisingly titled “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter,” which he’ll produce in partnership with “Wanted”‘s Timur Bekmambetov. The book is from the author of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” of course.

This will be the second time Burton and Bekmambetov have collaborated — they were both producers on last year’s heinous “9,” but that’s a rant for another time. You have to wonder what they admire in each other. It’s not like, individually, there’s not a lot to dig: Burton’s first run of work is impeccable (I’d place his hot streak from “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure” to “Sleepy Hollow,” but your mileage may vary) and Bekmambetov’s no slouch himself. “Wanted” is one of the most batshit blockbusters I’ve seen of late, a gleeful middle finger to physics and a chance to finally, finally see Morgan Freeman stop playing God. The Russian films that made him a hot commodity — “Night Watch” and “Day Watch” — are heavy on dour, Putin-esque oppression and fear of oil oligarchy, but they still bring the violent absurdity.

Why Burton and Bekmambetov are so psyched to work together (they bought the rights to the novel with their own money). Superficially, they’re both fantasy guys, but their films are totally tonally different. Burton’s more playful (or used to be, anyway), while Bekmambetov couldn’t be more assaultive. Another key difference: Burton’s work is about powerlessness, while Bekmambetov makes movies about power and what it means to achieve it.

As we all know, Burton was a weird kid, unmoored in suburbia, a misfit, an outsider. It shows in his work — every one of his protagonists is ultimately a failure outside of their own head. (Even Michael Keaton’s Batman wasn’t kicking that much ass when push came to shove; he seemed much happier as Bruce Wayne.)

03042010_wanted.jpgBekmambetov’s movies, meanwhile, do not take lip from anyone — violence is how you get respect, and that’s totally fine. Think of James McAvoy’s memorable final line in “Wanted” (“What the fuck have you done lately?”) — it’s entirely symptomatic of the atmosphere surrounding “Night Watch” and “Day Watch,” where daily combat is a way of life. I suspect this has something to do with Bekmambetov’s background both as a Kazakhstani and as an Ashkenazi Jew (his father and mother, respectively) in a notoriously xenophobic and racist country. Bekmambetov’s rise to the top of advertising and film probably required tremendous self-assertion, patience and very thick skin. And you see it in his movies.

So what do these guys see in each other? It’s not a marriage of business convenience brokered by a bigger studio; Burton hardly ever works as a producer for others (he hasn’t really franchised himself). Maybe they’re funhouse versions of each other: for all the violence whirring around in Bekmambetov’s universe, it’s worth remembering that he, at one point (maybe still, who knows), was attached to an update of “Moby Dick,” the ultimate in violent futility. So it goes: sometimes violence and cute alienation are the same thing.

[Photos: “Alice in Wonderland,” Disney, 2010; “Wanted,” Universal, 2008]


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

Posted by on


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.

Posted by on
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.

Posted by on
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.