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Almodóvar, Bardem and other famous Spaniards take on Franco.

Almodóvar, Bardem and other famous Spaniards take on Franco. (photo)

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General Francisco Franco inspired one of “Saturday Night Live”‘s first running gags, in which original Weekend Update anchor Chevy Chase would come up with new and original ways to remind viewers that “Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead,” a joke which went on for months and months.

Franco’s name was a byword in a certain kind of charged ’60s movie. In “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” ’30s teacher Maggie Smith exhorts his glories to her students, and — of course — one of them goes off to fight for him and dies. In ’60s artifact “I Am Curious (Yellow),” his name gets thrown around by Lena, the spunky protagonist who has nothing better to do than badger strangers about their political views. That spirit of political self-congratulation was roundly mocked by Lukas Moodysson in “Together,” his movie about a dysfunctional commune (the only kind, really), whose members get celebratory on the day of Franco’s death.

Mostly, though, the Spanish Civil War haunts movies obliquely rather than with direct invocations of Franco’s name — see Guillermo del Toro’s “serious” movies “The Devil’s Backbone” and “Pan’s Labyrinth,” the latter of which helpfully points out that fascism is bad by having as its villain an evil general who’s constantly checking his watch.

06242010_pan.jpgA more direct attack on this sensitive subject is arriving, thanks to the likes of Pedro Almodóvar and Javier Bardem. The occasion is the strange case of Baltasar Garzón, a Spanish judge who once issued a warrant for Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, contemplated prosecuting former Bush administration officials for torture allegations at Guantanamo Bay and has expressed interest in investigating Henry Kissinger.

Garzón’s latest move — attempting to investigate Franco-era “crimes against humanity” dating from a time before the term had any meaning — may get him suspended from practicing law in Spain for up to 20 years.

In solidarity, then, Almodóvar, Bardem, Maribel Verdú and others have appeared in a video that’s mostly remarkable for the fact that it exists. As directed by Azucena Rodríguez, the (unsubtitled, be warned) short film consists entirely of famous Spaniards reciting the testimony of 15 people killed under Franco. The crux — that under Spanish law there’s amnesty for all pre-1977 atrocities — leads to the outro, with a slogan “against the impunity of Franchism.”

For Almodóvar to speak on the judge’s behalf isn’t necessarily terribly “brave” — he’s got little to lose — but it’s worth noting that while he’s the most famous Spanish director in the world today, he’s also far from an establishment kind of guy within his own country.

By lending his name to the cause and leading off the video, what he’s done is simultaneously confirm his own prominence and his anti-establishment cred, at least outside the arthouse. And it seems like a worthy enough cause; anything the Wall Street Journal opposes is probably a good idea. And it’s not like he’ll ever make a movie about it anyway.

[Photos: “Saturday Night Live,” NBC, 1976-present; “Pan’s Labyrinth,” New Line Home Video, 2006]


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.