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The controversies of Cannes.

The controversies of Cannes. (photo)

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If you’ve been following the news lately, you may have noticed that the world’s been going to hell at a slightly faster clip than usual these last few weeks (presumably making up for time lost while all the planes in Europe were grounded) — so much so that one of the weird things about this year’s Cannes isn’t that it’s generated a few controversies, but not nearly as many as you’d expect.

The big news — still, and heartbreakingly — is the ongoing imprisonment of Iranian master Jafar Panahi. There was once a time I hoped Panahi would be recognized first and foremost as a master of urban filmmaking, a producer of films that were masterful immersions into crackling environments first and polemics second; this, alas, is becoming increasingly unlikely. He’s announced a hunger strike that concludes with “My final wish is that my remains be returned to my family, so that they may bury me in the place they choose.” This is very grim territory: J. Hoberman reports on an “unconfirmed announcement” that Panahi may be released in time to arrive for a public screening of Kiarostami’s “Certified Copy.” The reasons are shaky: Kiarostami, having publicly criticized Bahman Ghobadi and basically kept his mouth shut until recently calling for Panahi’s release, could be the only Iranian director still even vaguely on negotiating terms with the government. It takes guts to decide to return to Iran at this moment for his next film.

05192010_uncle.jpgAll the (much-deserved) attention shone on Panahi may, however, taken the spotlight slightly off the strange case of Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives” remains the last great hope of highbrow cinephiles for this year’s competition. Known to his followers as “Joe,” it’s taken Weerasethakul four contentious years to follow up 2006’s “Syndromes And A Century,” whose Thai release was censored, leading Weerasethakul to spearhead the Free Thai Cinema Movement. With Thailand in turmoil, it’s unclear whether Weerasethakul will be able to attend, though an unknown Twitter is now claiming he will. The stakes are lower, but still high.

Weerasethakul doesn’t make overtly political protest films (unlike Panahi), and he’s unlikely to see jail time. But the absence of both filmmakers, even potentially (Panahi was invited to be on the jury — his empty chair is a pointed reproof) adds to a sense of looming political menace and gloom — along with Godard’s cryptic absence due to “problems of a Greek type”. Not to mention “Draquila: Italy Trembles” — an anti-Berlusconi film that led Italy’s culture minister to boycott the fest — and Rachid Bouchareb’s “Outside the Law,” a film about post-war Algerian refugees in Paris denounced by government ministers as “an insult to France.” It’s punchy and grim out there. Who says Cannes has nothing to do with the real world?

[Photos: “Certified Copy,” MK2 Productions, 2010; “Uncle Boonmee Who Can Remember His Past Lives,” Kick The Machine, 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.