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Rooting for the bull instead of the bullfighter.

Rooting for the bull instead of the bullfighter. (photo)

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Friday sees the French release of “Manolete,” in which Adrien Brody plays the famous matador whose death led General Francisco Franco to order three days of national mourning, complete with funeral dirges on the radio. The teaser trailer attempts to draw sensual parallels between Manolete’s prowess in the ring and in the bedroom, which leads to a rather silly cut from Brody’s hand on a bull’s ass to Penelope Cruz’s. But whatever works.

The problem, predictably, is the animal rights groups inevitably outraged that this ancient, cruel and so on practice is being valorized on-screen. It’s “inadmissable,” says the French anti-bullfighting group Alliance Anticorrida. “If they are properly informed, a great number of spectators will avoid this new film.” It’s unclear what information they might require — it’s hard to be much clearer than killing a bull about what’s happening — but there it is. (PETA, to their momentarily sane credit, is pleased the bullfighting scenes were shot without real animals. “Let’s thank Lola Films for making a compassionate choice for bulls,” they say.) Even if Manolete did get gored, that’s apparently not enough revenge for the bulls.

As someone who neither has plans to ever attend a bullfight nor to picket one, I do find this a bit insane, but that’s my problem. At least it’s true that the organizations involved in this teapot-tempest seem interested in the ethics of treatment of animals, rather than their cute factor. (Europeans! They do not understand funny animal pictures.)

04012010_greenberg.jpgTo see animal fetishization nicely mocked, you should turn to “Greenberg.” As Christian Lorentzen points out over at N Plus One, a sub-plot involving taking care of a sick dog with an autoimmune disorder costs thousands of dollars, “an undigested reference to the sick cult of pet worship in America.” Oh, it’s digested alright — I don’t doubt Baumbach knew what he was doing with that thread.

Throughout the course of “Greenberg,” real people with real feelings are running around, hurting each other and getting hurt. But that is not as compelling to some people as the fact that OMG A DOG MIGHT DIE — as happened, say, to a friend who found himself despising everyone on-screen and rooting for the dog. Just because people aren’t the nicest doesn’t mean you should cheer only for the animal. But that seems to be Baumbach’s point: are you really worried about that dog? Well, who’s the asshole now? The audience member who values animal life more than human feelings, that’s who.

If a matador getting killed by a bull at his biopic’s (presumed) end isn’t enough correction, certain priorities may need to be reevaluated. Otherwise one day you’ll wake up and find yourself rooting for the bull — and that’s just unfair.

[Photos: “Manolete,” HandMade Films, 2007; “Greenberg,” Focus Features, 2010]


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.