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“A Somewhat Gentle Man,” Reviewed

“A Somewhat Gentle Man,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at Fantastic Fest 2010.

Released from prison after serving 12 years for murder, Ulrik (Stellan Skarsgård) makes his own way into town. There’s no one to pick him up. Everyone he looks up from his old life swears they thought he was getting out the next day or next month. The only one happy to see him is Rune (Bjørn Floberg), his old boss from his tough guy days, who’s eager to have Ulrik pick up where he left off by killing the man who testified against him and put him in jail for murder — not for any profit, really, just to prove Rune’s not the type of fellow to be messed with.

“A Somewhat Gentle Man,” directed by Hans Petter Moland, is an incredibly agreeable gangster movie, in part because Ulrik’s not very interested in becoming a gangster again. Rune helps him get a day job as a mechanic at a shop run by the all-business Sven (Bjørn Sundquist), who speaks in abrupt, funny paragraphs. Rune also gets him a room at the house of his world-worn older sister Karen Margrethe (Jorunn Kjellsby), and then starts reminding Ulrik of how much he owes — though of course he can pay it back whenever, presuming he come back to work for Rune.

Wearing one of the world’s worst haircut — a straggly, graying ponytail, balding on top — Skarsgård portrays Ulrik as someone who’s so unsure about what comes next that he allows other people’s desires to guide him. He tails the snitch because Rune wants him to. He has what can only be described as slapstick sex with Karen Margrethe because she demands it. He helps his coworker Merete (Jannike Kruse) with her abusive ex, and he plays along with his son Geir’s (Jan Gunnar Røise) lie to his pregnant girlfriend that his father is dead — she wouldn’t want an ex-con as her child’s grandfather.

Ulrik demonstrates a flash or two of the scarier guy he used to be, but for the most part he’s hangdog and malleable, a generally gentle giant, qualities that end up drawing people in — there’s a recurring almost joke (it never quite has the momentum of a punchline) that women feel compelled to feed him and then offer him sex, both of which he impassively accepts, though sometimes it’s the food that’s more exciting to him.

“A Somewhat Gentle Man” is slight, but its deadpan humor grows on your, and Skarsgård’s performance is everything — when Ulrik starts to realize he might be able to put together something resembling a normal life after all, his joy is irresistible, like, as the film itself puts it, the first signs of spring after a long winter.

“A Somewhat Gentle Man” will be released by Strand.


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.