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Floria Sigismondi’s Runaway Movie

Floria Sigismondi’s Runaway Movie (photo)

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On the Paramount stage in Austin with Cherie Currie, Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning, it was Floria Sigismondi who shined brightest, and it wasn’t just because of her sparkly black dress. Credited by Apparition chief Bob Berney for bringing them all together on this evening at SXSW, the filmmaker, photographer and visual artist who was born in Italy, raised in Hamilton, Ontario and traveled the world making otherworldly music videos for the likes of The White Stripes, Sigur Rós and Incubus settled down in Los Angeles and wasted no time in chronicling one of the area’s most legendary (and short-lived) rock acts, the ’70s all-grrrl group The Runaways, for her feature directorial debut.

Featuring Stewart and Fanning as Joan Jett and Currie, “The Runaways” may seem at first glance like the all-too-usual tale of a band that burned bright before burning out after just four years together, but Sigismondi is less concerned with the career trajectory of The Runaways than the emotional rollercoaster of the young, rebellious rockers who are patched together by the screwy impresario Kim Fowley (played by a particularly demented Michael Shannon). Although hits like “Cherry Bomb” are naturally cranked up, Sigismondi’s most inspired move is to dial things down to a slow simmer, lingering on long takes and filming in cramped quarters to convey the intimacy of the era. While at SXSW, Sigismondi took the time to talk about being patient in making her film debut and the film itself, as well as being pestered by the paparazzi and the pessimism of young people.

Did you have a connection with the Runaways growing up or did this seem like a good movie for you to direct?

Yeah, I had a connection in art college – I’m younger, so I didn’t experience [The Runaways] firsthand, but they were still playing them ten years later at a club that I used to go to work at actually as a beer bar girl through art college. For some reason, “Cherry Bomb” was a staple and I remember dancing to it. But [my representatives] gave me Cherie Currie’s book — it was a captivating story because of how young she was and everything that she had gone through, and Joan, being her first band and how that’s informed the rest of her career — it just felt like it was the right thing to do. They were at the forefront of something — I think they really put themselves out there and I admired that.

03202010_Runaways5.jpgFor you personally, was this a situation where the time was right to make a feature?

Yeah, I had been wanting to make a feature for a while, just nothing stuck and [“The Runaways”] happened like three months after I moved to Los Angeles, so it was okay, this is why I’m here. I took it as a sign. And after making a film you realize how many things can go wrong and when they come together, you know when it feels right.

Is it difficult to move from a medium of music videos where your story is in service of the music to features where the music is in service of the story?

I had a little bit of back and forth on that because I would get information from the Runaways’ songs and I’d use them to tell the story, like using “Love is Pain” near the end where it served the storyline there and then in the airplane going to Japan [where the band plays their first major concert], “I said I want you! I want this! I want that!”, the people were grabbing at them — it was all about wanting, so I did use the songs in that respect; I listened to them, listened to their words and these were young girls singing about their lives and that kind of was the first time I think there was music talking to people of their age. I found that in writing the script, the more I listened to the music, the more it actually inspired me to come up with scenes, maybe because I’ve done that in the past so often that it’s the trigger for creativity.

03202010_Runaways1.jpgIt was interesting how this film seemed to deal more with the creative process of the band than the decadence of fame and success that is standard of most rock-related movies, which most people probably have a good idea of in the case of the Runaways.

I think everybody does, too, especially today. My God, it’s so crazy. That part to me was sort of easy, you need one scene to say maybe when they arrive in Japan and for me, the most exciting part was how do they react to that fame, so I kept it kind of insular and made it about this little fight that happens backstage more than about how they end up signing autographs and becoming this thing, which we’ve seen a thousand times. Actually, in any kind of rock movie, there’s something about that, so I wanted to stay away from those kind of clichéd things and keep it about how does it affect them personally.

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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.