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“Metropolis” returns us to days of futures past.

“Metropolis” returns us to days of futures past. (photo)

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In movie theaters all over the country this weekend, audiences will flock to “Iron Man 2” for a view of the future — the alluring yet unsettling intersection of man and machine. At Film Forum this weekend, New Yorkers will have the chance to see the same thing in its original form, in the “complete” version of Fritz Lang’s silent sci-fi masterpiece, “Metropolis.”

Though that description is a bit of a misnomer — this version is still missing some footage, including at least one important sequence – the newly restored “Metropolis” is still far closer to Lang’s original 150-minute cut than anything anyone has seen since 1927. Shortly after its premiere, Paramount, the film’s U.S. distributor, cut the film by almost an hour out of concern that American audiences wouldn’t sit still for the full runtime. (By the by, “Iron Man 2” runs 124 minutes.)

In the intervening years, “Metropolis” has undergone numerous transformations, ironic for a film that is very much about the nature of transformation, including some cuts of less than 90 minutes. The most recent “definitive” restoration from 2002 (available on a “Restored Authorized Edition” from Kino, who is also distributing this “complete” version) ran 124 minutes and required ample use of expository intertitles to replace lost scenes.

As detailed in the New York Times by Larry Rohter, the breakthrough came when Argentinean film archivist Fernando Peña found a nearly complete 16mm print of “Metropolis” buried in the archives of Argentina’s Museo del Cine. That eventually led to this new version, which marries previously lost sequences from the Argentinean print to the 2002 restoration.

05062010_MetropolisRestoration2.jpgYou don’t need to be a Lang scholar to identify the additions. Because of the smaller 16mm negative, the new footage is letterboxed on the top and left sides of the frame (plus there’s no mistaking the grain and dirt of the Argentinean scenes for the stunning clarity of the 2002 restoration). The improvements in narrative coherence far outweigh any distraction caused by the sudden drops in visual quality.

Plus, even without the enhancements, the movie is still one of the coolest pieces of eye candy the movies have ever produced, and easily one of the top five best-designed productions in history. (The score, by Gottfried Huppertz, remains a classic as well.) Any excuse to see this film projected on a big screen is a good one. A viewing of “Metropolis” is like a ticket to the past and a gateway to the future all at once. The ideas it contained — the thematic ones about the war between religion and technology by writer Thea von Harbou, and the astonishing visual ones by Lang — continue to inspire films to this day. Eat your heart out, Tony Stark.

Here’s one particularly exemplary sequence, the introduction of worker-devouring “Moloch” machine. This is not Huppertz’s score.

[Photos: “Metropolis,” Kino, 1927]


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.