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A decade with Michael Douglas.

A decade with Michael Douglas. (photo)

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Evgenia Peretz of Vanity Fair wins the prize for funniest parenthetical of the week. In her profile of Michael Douglas, dwelling on the actor’s 1987 annus mirabilis, she drops this: “he came at audiences with the one-two punch of ‘Fatal Attraction’ and ‘Wall Street’–which have come to define the decade (note the sushi cameos in both).”

Ah, to imagine a time when sushi wasn’t so ubiquitous as to be in every last college town and plenty of supermarkets. Not that Michael Douglas was the first person to use sushi as a class signifier — Molly Ringwald brought her sushi and chopsticks to detention and to the mainstream moviegoers in “The Breakfast Club” two years earlier. Things have changed: between 1988 and 1998, the number of US sushi bars increased by 400%. I like how Peretz reminds us how what was once a marker is now commonplace.

Contrast that with the hilarious but ham-handed gag in the “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps” trailer, where Douglas’ no gigantic ’80s mobile phone tells us exactly how long he’s been in jail. I hope they revisit the sushi bar so that Douglas can splutter in outrage at the visiting plebeians.

As the VF article points out in passing, Douglas had a remarkable string of hot-topic roles for roughly a decade, bookended by two dickish millionaire types: Gordon Gekko in 1987, Nicholas van Orton in 1997’s “The Game,” which basically redeemed his entire persona. In between, Douglas went to Japan in 1989’s “Black Rain,” implicitly addressing fears of a Japanese takeover of American business à la Michael Crichton in “Rising Sun,” who Douglas would hook with for 1994’s “Disclosure,” where the sexual-harassment-lawsuit hysteria effectively peaked.

03032010_fallingdown.jpgAnd let’s not forget “Falling Down”‘s depiction of White Rage or “The American President”‘s embodiment of mid-90s Clintonian liberalism, with plotlines about gun-control bills and its production help from Bill Clinton. (“The American President”‘s website still lives, by the way. You’ll need Netscape 1.1 for optimum results! I recommend the crossword puzzle.)

In passing, let’s note that recreating the ’80s on screen is far more than just funky hair-dos or the donning of a pager. There’s a whole language of screen conventions. I’m not the world’s biggest “American Psycho” fan, but there’s one small moment in there that just kills me. In an establishing shot of downtown, we get one of those indelibly smarmy helicopter shots flying through the overwhelming skyscrapers of Big Business — soundtracked to “Walking on Sunshine.” That says ’80s to me more than any Huey Lewis monologue ever could.

[Photos: “Wall Street,” 20th Century Fox, 1987; “Falling Down,” Warner Bros., 1993]


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.