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Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, collaborators in anger.

Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe, collaborators in anger. (photo)

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Some actor-director pairings are legendary: Anthony Mann and James Stewart, François Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Léaud, Federico Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni, Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, Tsai Ming-liang and Lee Kang-sheng.

To that illustrious list, we have lately been invited to add another pair: Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe. At first, the idea seems too spurious to even think about. And yet…

To date, Scott and Crowe have collaborated five times: “Gladiator,” “A Good Year,” “American Gangster,” “Body of Lies” and the new “Robin Hood.” Asked recently to comment on their partnership by the Telegraph, Scott responded “He’s angry all the time and I’m angry all the time as well” (which presumably makes for a fun set).

On Tuesday, New York‘s Vulture blog detailed how this earth-shattering collaborative team nearly fell apart during “Robin Hood”‘s protracted script development process (“Their familiar bonhomie had been replaced by frosty, terse exchanges.”). It’s not quite “The Bonfire of the Vanities,” but it’s amusing.

Yet despite Scott’s answer — which I suspect has an ugly grain of truth within its flippancy — it’s still unclear what the pair bring out of each other. When a director and star team for multiple outings, it means that you’re obligated to turn off that nagging voice telling you that it all seems overfamiliar and consider how the variations being spun on a persona enrich every subsequent film, and also that the director’s concluded the actor in question anchors their work in a way no one else can.

05202010_spur.jpgThat said, there are different functions specific to each relationship. Mann got to make some of the more radically unsettled and unnerving Westerns of the ’50s under the cover of Stewart’s presumably calming presence, while Stewart got to darken his persona (something he conscientiously did every time he got the chance). Léaud and Kang-sheng serve as naked alter-egos for their directors.

De Niro embodied the kind of fierce energy and violence Scorsese was generating behind the camera. As for Burton and Depp, it seems like the visually oriented Burton relies on Depp to take care of the performance heavy lifting so Burton can do what he does. (Bill Murray has apparently taken on the responsibility of being Wes Anderson’s personal mascot; could be worse.)

Which leads us back to Scott and Crowe. Crowe’s a rock of smoldering intensity, but he’s proven to be far less versatile an actor than one would initially expect, while Scott is hung up on his colors, action set-pieces and — increasingly — a tone so portentous you’d think he was offering up moral instruction instead of wanly-received action movies. Who’s benefiting from these repeat outings? Not the audience, certainly.

[Photos: “Gladiator,” DreamWorks, 2000; “The Naked Spur,” Warner Home Video, 1953]


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.