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Cannes never lost the plot.

Cannes never lost the plot. (photo)

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The Cannes Film Festival kicks off on Wednesday, beginning 11 of the most exciting days of the cinematic year for arthouse devotees. Even if you can’t go, catching up with the daily reviews from the first screenings of major auteurs’ latest films is the cinephile equivalent of watching the ESPNEWS ticker for the latest scores (which is just as fun and ultimately pointless as it sounds). And with that anticipation comes the customary slew of essays about how Cannes has lost the plot, only appeals to a tiny group of people and doesn’t impact film culture, etc.

I’m not interested in constructing a passionate defense of the often marginal movies I love, or probing the fascinating fact that Cannes is the only place in the world where Manoel de Oliveira can receive almost as much coverage as topless starlets on the beach. But I would like to point out that the idea that the festival has been concentrating on less and less relevant films over the years is nonsense. If anything, their track record has improved. Does that mean Cannes went from darkness to light? Of course not, but within the limits of what Cannes was pretty much born to do — show the best films in the world first, which these days means ignoring a lot of mainstream product outright — it’s more on point than ever.

05112010_flannel.jpgIf you don’t believe me, look at this handy list of every year’s competition films. There is obviously a lot of information that could be extrapolated from this, and I’m not even going to attempt a synoptic overview. A few things, though, can be readily noticed. Example: the ’50s contained a lot more starchy Hollywood movies (“The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit,” Delbert Mann’s “Bachelor Party”) that, after the various New Waves, were largely relegated to non-competition parts of the festival. The slates from the last 50 years contain most of the biggest names in international film, but the further back you go, the more you see titles and names that have long been forgotten. No matter how dedicated a film viewer you are, for example, you may have trouble remembering 1995’s “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” or Mircea Daneliuc’s “Senatorul Melcilor.” Or take the slate for, say, a revolutionary year like 1968, where half of the titles are utterly unknown quantities from foreign names, plus a movie by future Cannon Films mastermind Menahem Golan.

Certainly some of these names are ripe for rediscovery; for example, speaking of 1968, I’ve been told that Valerio Zurlini has been unjustly forgotten by history and will return to haunt us yet. And yes, surely some of these 2010 titles are just competition bloat, the kind that enters every festival in the world every single year. But Cannes’ roster over the last decade has boasted a solid mix of established masters and hot new voices. The films may not cross over with mainstream audiences, but they definitely excite festival movie fans. And having that many established names makes you more curious and confident in the up-and-comers. If it’s safe to predict anything (it usually isn’t), it’s safe to say these slates will hold up better in 20 years than those of the festival’s alleged apex.

[Photos: “Femme Fatale,” Warner Bros., 2002; “The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit,” 20th Century Fox, 1956.]


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.