This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


Cinélycée: teaching movies and values.

Cinélycée: teaching movies and values. (photo)

Posted by on

In what is, to my knowledge, some kind of first, France is set to make cinema part of the public school curriculum. Specifically: each secondary school will have a teacher who gets paid extra to be the “culture czar” (alert Fox News!), working alongside five students to craft a specialized roster for each month. The movies can be screened during literature/history classes or after-school screenings; discussion is encouraged. The goal: to combat what French president Nicolas Sarkozy has deemed “an unlikely and dangerous situation, where the culture of cinematography for our pupils seems inversely proportional to the quantity – which is immense – of images and videos that they consume each day. It is urgent to develop their critical regard, and anchor their relationship with the moving image in a culture heritage.”

The translation seems a little ad hoc, but this is certainly a terrific idea, even if the curriculum seems to be, by design, a little staid: everything’s pre-1980, with an emphasis on bricks-and-mortar classics like “Children of Paradise,” “The Rules of the Game,” and “Citizen Kane.” The goals are both cultural and, in a roundabout way, teaching critical thinking: Sarkozy’s convinced “Kane” is a great way to teach about “the machinations of power.” It seems likely all concerned are underestimating the degree to which most kids hate to watch anything made before they were, say, ten years old, but it’s certainly a start.

05192010_magnificent.jpgIn a way, this is the diametrical opposite of the now less-prominent calls for media literacy I heard so much about when still in the public school system. Media literacy is about being able to engage with actively deceptive and mendacious material: to pick up on would-be subliminal advertising, call bullshit as needed, and generally not be a slave of manipulative content. What the Cinélycée initiative seems to be calling for is something different: engaging with classic cinema the same way literature is taught, i.e. with an eye for cultural worth that stands outside of time. The Cinélycée folks hope that if they sharpen young mind on substance from the past, maybe they’ll actively tune out the garbage and seek out better art in the present.

Hopefully they’ll do a better job than American public schools, which use movies to give teachers extra time to catch up on grading and administrative stuff. In seventh grade, my Texas History class spent a whole week watching “The Magnificent Seven” on a loop (we made it through the whole thing two-and-a-half times) while making quilts, which was apparently supposed to teach us about what life in a Mexican mission town was like. The enterprise did not prosper. It’ll be ages before anyone here decides movies — which, for better or worse, have certainly supplanted books for many — should be taught systematically as something important, rather used as simple time-killers.

[Photos: “Citizen Kane,” Warner Home Video, 1941; “The Magnificent Seven,” MGM Home Entertainment, 1960.]


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

Posted by on


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.

Posted by on
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.

Posted by on
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.