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For a truly immersive movie experience, you might need an iPhone.

For a truly immersive movie experience, you might need an iPhone. (photo)

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The ’50s saw the introduction of Cinerama, which synced up three simultaneous projectors aimed at a giant curved screen. “You are there!,” the advertising promised, because of course it would take the biggest, most immersive screens to ever hope to fool you into think you were something else.

So there’s something fitting about “Murder on Beacon Hill,” a movie (sort of) that really can mean you are there, involving the tiny screen of your iPhone. It’s an app from Untravel Media that you download and then, ideally, wander around Boston with, tramping through historical landmarks with your guide, local girl Alexandra McDougall. The story is that of the 1849-50 Parkman-Webster case, and the scenes illuminate what happened — though you can watch and visit the sites in any order.

The whole thing will be shown in a 43-minute block Sunday at the Boston International Film Festival. This is, as the Guardian‘s Ryan Gilbey notes, “not quite the Lumière brothers at the Grand Café in 1895,” but it’s something different anyway.

Unfortunately, the app doesn’t seem all that compelling; you can watch it here. “I like the idea of history as jazz,” announces McDougall at the start, before informing us that a while ago she began obsessively rewatching a PBS documentary called “Murder at Harvard,” and which, with evidence and letters read out by overacting voices in that uniquely PBS-y style, seems to have influenced “Murder on Beacon Hill” stylistically a little too much. But hey, you can hold up your phone and look at something twice over, once as revealingly contrasting image and once in real size. That’s cool.

04152010_gaudi.jpgThe most exciting aspect of this is the promise of how much more could be done in this direction. At the very least, some movies — judiciously clipped for iPhone or whatever — could make useful compare-and-contrasts for the tourist/visitor. It’d be great to walk through Barcelona armed with a copy of Hiroshi Teshigahara’s documentary “Antonio Gaudi” (nothing more than reverential shots of the buildings, with music and no narration) for suggestions on which of his buildings to visit and angles to look at it from. Or perhaps the herds of tourists who come to New York for “Sex and the City” tours can break off from loud groups and become inconspicuous individuals and pairs wandering at their leisure. Even better might be montages of public places as they appeared in the past, to hold up and see how they’ve changed while standing on the spot; rare is the place completely identical to even thirty years ago.

The applications so far look mild, but I’m pretty sure the first person that combines an iPhone narrative that lures you from one dark corner to another in an intense haunted house, only to be attacked by some kind of ghoul or serial killer, will make a killing whatever Halloween they come up with it.

[Photos: “Murder on Beacon Hill,” Untravel Media, 2010; “Antonio Gaudi,” Criterion Collection, 1984]


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.