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Movie marketing in post-Obama America.

Movie marketing in post-Obama America. (photo)

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“Death at a Funeral,” which opens tomorrow, does not appear to be bringing out the finest in post-Obama, “post-racial” language. In an odd article at the Los Angeles Times, John Horn fixates over the tracking numbers for the film, which predict a $20 million opening weekend, “with some appeal for non-black moviegoers, although not as much as Screen Gems had hoped.”

The story tells us that “hiring LaBute was part of Screen Gems’ effort to expand the “Death at a Funeral” audience,” and — more revealingly — gives us a list of reasons why white people should want to show up: “In addition to being directed by a white man and costarring [James] Marsden, ‘Death at a Funeral’ also features Luke Wilson and Peter Dinklage (reprising his role from the first film).” Screen Gems President Clint Culpepper frets: “”The trailer killed with white audiences, and yet you have to ask yourself… why is the tracking reflecting what it is reflecting? We need to wind up [as a nation] where we have no black stories and no white stories. There are just stories.”

Ah, yes, the “white people love Luke Wilson” factor: the levels of racial fretting must be off the charts if we’re counting on a guy whose highest profile gigs lately have been in AT&T commercial to bring in audiences. The reminder — twice! — that LaBute is a white director is even weirder. No matter how many big studio films he makes — especially if those films are, say, “The Wicker Man” and “Lakeview Terrace” — he’s never going to be a name-brand director to mass audiences. Only people who remember him from his breakout independent work (and theater geeks) will know that he’s white. That’s a bizarre justification, one I’ve never seen pulled before. Like, “Next Friday” was an “urban comedy” and it was directed by the lily-white Steve Carr; 2007’s “Who’s Your Caddy” was directed by the three-first-named white Don Michael Paul.

04152010_obsessed.jpgLast year’s “Obsessed” — noted in the article as a crossover hit, with 30% of its audience being white — wasn’t just directed by a white guy, but a British one no less (Steve Shill), information theater-goers no doubt carefully checked before purchasing their tickets. (You could argue that “Obsessed” — with its nasty little subtext of crazy white bitch vs. upper-middle-class black family, one surprisingly unexploited and silent in the movie — prospered because it called allegedly “post-racial” America on the nonsense of that wishful thinking.)

It’s nice to fantasize about a post-racial America that patently isn’t here in our national cultural life. It’s another thing entirely to annex the self-righteous language of “no black or white stories, only stories” to, you know, a movie with diarrhea jokes and gay dwarf escorts. It seems unnecessarily grandiose. Wondering why white audiences won’t come to a movie with a crossover star like Chris Rock? Maybe that’s because he has a bad track record in film, and the rest of the cast isn’t exactly crossover name-brand (as fine an actress as Loretta Devine is), and Peter Dinklage isn’t a star, and movies with predominantly black casts tend to be marketed that way. Don’t blame the audience; that’s just precedent.

[Photos: “Death At A Funeral,” Screen Gems, 2010; “Obsessed,” Screen Gems, 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.