This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


Connecting Ridley Scott’s color schemes, from his commercials to his films.

Connecting Ridley Scott’s color schemes, from his commercials to his films. (photo)

Posted by on

By his own estimation, Sir Ridley Scott has directed over 2,000 commercials — valuable training for his career as a visual stylist and a trail-blazer in the field of commercials directors who transitioned over to the movies. That’s an enormous body of work, but the stylistic transitions from each decade are surprisingly consistent. In the ’70s, Scott did earth-tones, in the ’80s, he did neon, and after that, he pretty much did anything that would stick.

Scott’s biggest commercial from the ’70s is the Hovis bread “Bike” ad, which readers of the Independent voted their favorite commercial of all time in 2006. Viewed without any nostalgia or context, it’s a hokey piece of work — in a far-off time that never was, a young lad pushes a bike up cobblestone streets while the voiceover mutters something about delivering bread to “ol’ Ma Beggarty’s place” while the “New World” symphony plays, conflating magical old Britain with a symphony designed to evoke America. Here it is:

At that point, Ridley Scott was a British director, something driven home by “The Duellists,” his 1977 feature debut that follows similar visual guidelines. At the time, it was noted for conspicuous stylization, but it’s got nothing on what was to follow — the colors of the outside world bear an actual resemblance to what the world actually looks like. Once he left, his work would never be as self-consciously earthy or faux-naturalistic:

1979’s “Alien” elevated Scott to a whole new level, but it wasn’t until he discovered neon that he found his signature look. “Blade Runner” set the standard for what the future looked like circa the ’80s, and it connected the dots between the rising business specter of Japan and a particular aesthetic (which Scott took it even further with 1989’s “Black Rain,” aka “Michael Douglas vs. The Yakuza”).

This was the point when Scott’s work was actually about something, and some of his most prominent commercials from the period are very clear on this. 1985’s famous “Pepsi: Choice of a New Generation” ad practically looks like an outtake, and even more so the cavernous gloom of a 1986 ad that never saw TV about budget deficits. In the future, we will all live in neon-lit colonies of Japan.

After “Thelma and Louise,” Scott’s work became less distinctive — not just in the floptastic period of “White Squall” and “G.I. Jane,” but even in his alleged ’00s comeback. The difference is a visual one as well. In the ’70s and ’80s, Scott’s lighting was, as they say, “motivated” — you could tell where all the colors were coming from within the set. The commercials are similarly random:

After that, it’s all kind of random, dependent more upon whatever allegedly looks the most cool. I have no idea why the opening battle scene of “Gladiator” is so blue; my only guess is that Sir Ridley decided to follow the lead of his brother Tony (“Top Gun,” “Deja Vu”), the king of unmotivated color palettes. In any case, it hasn’t done his work any favors.

[Photo: The “bike” ad, Hovis, 1973]


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.