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DID YOU READ

Outrage Comedy and Unholy Tragedy

Outrage Comedy and Unholy Tragedy (photo)

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Gyorgy Palfi’s “Taxidermia” is a certain kind of movie that doesn’t have a name — we could call it scato-absurdist-expressionist outrage comedy, with a lineage that stems back to the New Wave Czechs, Makavejev, Monty Python, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Roy Andersson and the Coens, not to mention Takashi Miike, if he were Hungarian, and Guy Maddin, if the Winnipeg master of private ceremonies decided to regress and fully embrace Eastern European vulgarism. Or we could just not bother, and savor the whiplash.

A confrontational Rube Goldberg satire that packs three surreal dick jokes into its first 15 minutes, Palfi’s film plunges headlong into its own dialogue about Hungarian culture and the universal love-hate with our bodies, and the level of discourse is just as often lab-brat silly as it is genuinely disquieting. But while plenty of revolted reviewers were happy to chide the movie for its sophomoric excesses, there’s no denying its uncompromising brio. Palfi’s underseen debut, 2002’s “Hukkle,” had a similar comic sense of crossing vectors and ridiculous texture, even if it was completely dialogue-free. But “Taxidermia” is balls-out invention, prioritizing its degree of visual yuck over thematic thrust but tossing so much puke-flecked stuff on the screen that subtexts cannot help but emerge.

03222010_taxidermia2.jpgIt begins rather turgidly — with a cock-obsessed Army orderly stuck on a squalid farm with his barking lieutenant and his family, and you don’t know why you’re there. It helps to have a grasp of the whole program — based on short stories by Magyar literary upstart-turned-major figure Lajos Parti Nagy, the movie is a triptych, essentially following a bastardized family lineage from WWII to the present, starting with this hare-lipped jerk-off, who manages to emit a flame from his hard-on, get it pecked at by a rooster while screwing a barn-wall knothole, and eventually copulate with a trough of butchered pig meat that he imagines is the lieutenant’s obese wife. Or does he? She gives birth anyway, to an infant with a piglet’s tail (snipped off in close-up, of course), and this Garcia-Marquezian urchin grows up in Communist Hungary to be the nation’s Fatty Arbuckle-ish champion in “sport eating,” the ordeal of which in Palfi’s imagining, complete with mass vomitorium breaks, is truly unlike anything you might’ve seen on ESPN.

There’s more, buckets and reams and body cavities of it, and there no getting around the fact that “Taxidermia” is authentically disgusting, even in an age where anyone can find images of coprophagia in .004 Google seconds. But it’s a hot-blooded blast as well, and this might be the best way to define its ersatz quasi-genre — that is, like Makavejev and Python and the Coens, Palfi’s film is predominantly all about the elan and vivid high spirits of the image-making, the joy of setting up dominoes and then toppling them, the full-throated cackle of a filmmaker having great, dirty fun at his craft. We’re in cahoots with Palfi more than with any of his characters, and just as the Coens used to get misread as being unsympathetic to their people, Palfi has received judgments of “cruelty.” But it’s a tradition that goes back to the tall-tale-telling of Chaucer and Smollett and Lawrence Sterne, none of whom “invested” in their protagonists more than they counted on the reader to share the bumpy, sardonic ride.

03222010_taxidermia3.jpgWhen Palfi does take aim at a target — particularly Communist-era populism and its manifestation as hysterical, organized gluttony — he hits it with a bazooka. (A mandated double-bill of this and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” might cure the obese-schoolkid problem in a shot.) If “Taxidermia” has a nagging problem, it’s that its attack on the human body takes on so many different forms (including self-surgery) that they seem to conflict and dissipate. But I’ll take the shotgun approach to satire over the sniper’s single pop anytime, and Palfi’s movie certainly makes a spectacular mess.

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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.