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DID YOU READ

50 Cent, serious actor.

50 Cent, serious actor. (photo)

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More so than many rappers, 50 Cent has made a good-faith, surprisingly sustained attempt to transform himself into a legitimate actor, working at a steady clip despite overwhelming critical disregard.

The performer — ever the intelligent businessman, he of the Vitamin Water brand and MSNBC appearances — appears to understand that the shelf life of hip-hop artists can be limited, something he’s learned with his own increasingly declining record sales (better than that of most, but still on the downswing).

His latest effort, though, is supremely hardcore: losing 54 pounds to realistically portray an emaciated cancer patient in “Things Fall Apart,” a drama he co-wrote, set to be directed by Mario Van Peebles. This means he can now forever be linked with Christian Bale and “Hunger”‘s Michael Fassbender, not a grouping I would have expected.

50’s filmography can make your head spin, his choices an apparent elaborate non sequitur. It’s particularly impressive that this year he’ll star in both “Twelve” and “13,” which will hopefully be released as an elaborate four-hour “Grindhouse” style double-feature.

50 also made his directorial debut “Before I Self-Destruct,” which no one will describe better than Nathan Rabin at the AV Club. I’ve only seen 50’s first two thespian roles — in 2005’s “Get Rich or Die Tryin'” and 2006’s “Home of the Brave” — about which it can most briefly be said that he could only have improved as an actor since then.

It’s tempting to cut him some slack for “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” since it was his debut. At that point in his career, 50’s acting was as monotoned and uninflected as his sleepy rapping voice; the entire dramatic heft of the film (which I’d still call marginally more entertaining than Eminem’s dour “8 Mile”) is carried by Terrence Howard. If nothing else, the scene when the two meet and become friends in prison — naked, being forced to lie down on the prison shower floor — is memorably homoerotic. 50 appeared to be completely unaware what kind of movie Jim Sheridan was attempting to make.

05272010_home.jpgIt was in “Home of the Brave” that his limitations became clearer. A serious candidate for Worst Film of the Aughts, “Brave” is one of those coming-home-from-Iraq movies in which clueless civilians ask veterans how many people they shot. 50 is supposed to be one of four equally balanced stories, but apparently his performance was so inadequate (or so poorly initially conceived) that he only ends up with about four scenes. (Chad Michael Murray gets more screen time.) He’s supposed to be traumatized, but his only convincing line delivery is “I love my gun.”

But there’s reason to hope that 50 is stepping up his acting game. It has to do with his voice. During his fame-making days, his performances were as one-track as his vocals, but of late, his songs feature all kinds of weird, campy multi-tracked voices suggesting a desire to be nothing so much as the Vincent Price of rap. On a track like “Straight To The Bank,” he multi-tracks sinister laughter; on “So Disrespectful,” he appears to be trying to pick a fight by being as vocally annoying as possible. These developments seems to offer the possibility that as an actor, he may yet learn to project something other than gravelly brooding.

[Photos: 50 Cent, from ThisIs50.com; “Before I Self Destruct,” Cheetah Vision, 2009; “Home of the Brave,” MGM Home Entertainment, 2006]

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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.