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Disney, proud supporter of the auteur theory.

Disney, proud supporter of the auteur theory. (photo)

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There I was, stuck in traffic, when an ad for “The Last Song” came on the radio, complete with a Miley Cyrus track in the background, an obligatory mention that it’s “based on a bestseller by Nicholas Sparks,” a few bon mots of romantic longing and a blaring end note: “Directed by Julie Anne Robinson.” This last part caught me off guard. As a connoisseur of drive-time movie commercials, I know that it’s rare that the director gets mentioned unless they’re James Cameron or Peter Jackson. And of all the studios, Disney prizes the whole being more than the sum of its parts, taking pride in putting together a homegrown star (Cyrus) with an on-the-lot production team (Adam Shankman’s Offspring Entertainment) in a wholesome package that will ultimately be sold to young girls with the studio brand. So why take precious time out of a 30-second spot for “The Last Song” to highlight Robinson, a little-known Brit director who isn’t likely to draw any additional moviegoers to the multiplex?

Well, maybe it’s stipulated in Robinson’s contract, but it could also signal a cheaper alternative to grooming directors rather than movie stars at a time when the star system is on the wane. Disney seems to be leading the charge on this front — last summer, the “G-Force” trailers inexplicably overenunciated the participation of Hoyt Yeatman, the veteran visual effects artist-turned-director whose name didn’t exactly send ripples through the audience except for those that knew he destroyed France in “Armageddon.” Meanwhile, the upcoming “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” trailer doesn’t mention stars Nicolas Cage or Jay Baruchel by name until the end credits tag, but you’ll notice that this is not only a Jerry Bruckheimer production, but also a Jon Turteltaub film, he of the “National Treasure” franchise and noted arch-hack.

04012010_ZachSnyder.jpgOne could argue that Disney is merely just trying to be generous in giving credit where it’s due, but as the premier studio in brand management, it’s a pretty savvy solution to finding a point person for your film that’s not necessarily your lead actor as blockbusters increasingly turn to lesser-known names to cut costs. That’s why in the coming months you’ll hear “Tron Legacy” director Joseph Kosinski touted as a visionary à la Zack Snyder and Neill Blomkamp before he even finishes his first film.

And not only are other studios following suit, but they’re retroactively auteurizing their back catalogs — as /Film‘s Peter Sciretta tweeted, the 2002 Warner Bros. thriller “Insomnia” will now be known as “Christopher Nolan’s ‘Insomnia'” for its release on Blu-ray, nevermind that Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank starred in it. This probably wasn’t what Andrew Sarris had it mind when he was adapting Cahiers du Cinéma in the ’60s, but it may be the way forward for marketing departments who can pitch a CG Kraken in the trailers, but can’t wrest it from sea to do publicity rounds.

[Photos: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” Disney, 2010; “Watchmen,” Warner Bros., 2009]


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.