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Bodies of work.

Bodies of work. (photo)

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Writing about this week’s DVD release of “Where The Wild Things Are” in the LA Times, Dennis Lim notes that to really understand Spike Jonze, you can’t stop at his three feature films. “A true appreciation of Jonze’s sensibility requires a familiarity with his shorts, videos and promos,” he writes. It’s true — you can learn more about Jonze from a 90-second Gap ad than from “Adapatation.” and “Being John Malkovich,” both great fun, but both about Jonze putting his skills at the service of Charlie Kaufman.

Watching that “Pardon our dust” spot gives you all of the Wild Rumpus and Jonze’s skater background in a condensed fashion; watching “Adaptation.” just tells you he knows how to keep a straight face.

Jonze is an extreme case, though a lot of filmmakers now work outside of features on a regular basis. Many supplement their income with commercials, but there’s other ways to go. The L.A. Opera has brought in film directors: Woody Allen, William Friedkin, David Cronenberg — even (yes!) Garry Marshall. It’s possible that Franco Zeffirelli’s staging of “La Boheme” for the Met — performed more times than any other production in the company’s history — is more important than any of his movies, except for maybe the 1968 “Romeo and Juliet.”

Or look at the art world. The sum total of Thai filmmaker Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s shorts and installations likely adds up to something close to the duration of his five features. (Weerasethakul’s unspeakably awesome “Anthem” condenses his entire body of work down to its most purely pleasurable five-minute essence — if it were on YouTube, he’d be famous by Friday.)

03022010_anthem.jpgAtom Egoyan also puts out the odd video installation and he’s made at least one film — 2006’s “Citadel” — he seems positively thrilled was seen by hardly anyone. In an interview that’s not, unfortunately, available online in “Dekalog 3,” he purrs “I really haven’t shown it at any festival at al because it wasn’t meant to be a commercial project and was made with no budget whatsoever. […] I prefer to see it as a purely artisanal project.”

That film directors can do non-film work is a fairly recent innovation: Frank Capra dabbled in educational TV in the ’50s, but he was an anomaly. Decades into the auteur theory, many directors seem self-conscious about how their movies are scrutinized and pieced together as a larger body of work. I’d imagine there’s a certain amount of relief in working in areas it’s harder to keep track of, to blow off steam and try new tricks in an arena that either won’t be preserved for posterity or will take years for most people to be able to access. At least when Wes Anderson makes an IKEA commercial no one’s going to talk about how twee it is, you know?

[Photos: Spike Jonze’s unused Gap ad, 2005; “Anthem,” made for LUX/Frieze Art Fair, 2006]


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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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.

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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.