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Pretty Pickpockets

Pretty Pickpockets (photo)

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These days, movies can be made out of virtually nothing at all, like a poem — only a sense of drive and subject are required. Too often there’s nothing but ego at the center of today’s micro-indies, but Joshua Safdie’s “The Pleasure of Being Robbed” isn’t merely slacker realism or geysering quirk. It’s a character portrait, and I haven’t seen the likes of Eléonore (Eléonore Hendricks) since the ’70s, when Cassavetes movies bristled with compulsive nowhere figures living out their no-future lives by trying to seize the elusive present, and trying to do so with a fire in their bellies.

Eléonore isn’t a yuppie mumble-bum making small talk, but a low-rent, fringe-lost waif who supports herself through guileless kleptomania, and who never seems to contemplate consequences, only actions. At the outset, we see her scam a woman on the street by shouting out random names to her until she gets a reaction, and then slips on the oblivious woman’s purse in a hug. When she blindly grabs some bags off the sidewalk in front of a hotel, she ends up, back in her cluttered, ephemera-packed apartment, with a puppy (which she instantly and guiltlessly shoos out into the hallway and locks the door), and a sack of kittens, which, without batting an eye, she names one by one and then flings them across the room onto her bed. For the rest of the movie, we wonder how those kittens are making out, because Eléonore doesn’t.

03022010_PleasureofBeingRobbed4.jpgShot in classic secret-camera vérité style — there are some scenes, like Eléonore’s shoplifting routine in Tower Records, that could’ve easily be done for real and on the sly — Safdie’s movie veers gradually, almost imperceptibly, into a dreaminess that could be read as Eléonore’s mental instability. But there’s no being sure about it — after purse-snatching and finding a set of car keys, she struggles to find the car they belong to until a laid-back, bike-riding friend, Josh (Safdie), happens by and helps her.

They sit in the car, but Eléonore doesn’t know how to drive, and so Josh teaches her, and they take a bumpy road trip to Jersey. Only after they get back — Josh wants to fuck her, but Eléonore is just as much an enigma to him as she is to us — does Eléonore get arrested, and the gears of her reality begin to slip. There’s one too-brief shot of her wandering in a magical daze through Central Park Zoo in handcuffs, and from there anything we see — including a fake polar bear that’d make Guy Maddin proud — can be part of her strange, childish subjectivity.

The subtle concept of Eléonore is the drug of this drifty, poignant movie, but Hendricks makes for a beguiling delivery system — we see the hypnotic disconnect in Eléonore’s eyes right away, and together with Hendricks’ adolescent-ish beauty, boyish affect and convincing I’m-invisible quality suggest a number of convincing backstory possibilities, none of which, thankfully, are explained out.

We’ve all seen people like Eléonore on the street — the ones that want to talk to us despite being strangers, the ones that have no visible means of support, the ones that play shamelessly like children, as if they were caught in a record-skip somewhere on their lives’ timeline. Safdie’s movie begins on the outside of this alien creature, and ends somewhere on the inside, but, because that’s the way it is for real, she remains a mystery.


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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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.