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Toronto 2010: “Rabbit Hole,” Reviewed

Toronto 2010: “Rabbit Hole,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.

“Rabbit Hole” feels more like the adaptation of a really great play that hasn’t been botched as opposed to it feeling like a really great movie, but that isn’t to take away from what John Cameron Mitchell has achieved with his take on David Lindsay-Abaire’s drama about a couple dealing with the fallout of the death of their young child.

Adapted for the screen by Lindsay-Abaire himself, the film stars Nicole Kidman and Aaron Eckhart as Becca and Howie Corbett, eight months removed from the day their son Danny ran out into the street after the family’s dog and was hit by a passing car. Both have their different ways of grieving: Howie insists on going to group therapy where he befriends a fellow parent (Sandra Oh) while Becca finds her own unexpected way of coming to terms with the accident, suffocated by the ones closest to her, including her mother (Dianne Wiest) and her ne’er do well sister (Tammy Blanchard), who recently became pregnant.

Lindsay-Abaire won a Pulitzer for being delicate without being precious in depicting the pain and heartache of the Corbetts and it’s a remarkable showcase for actors, if done right. Kidman, whose finest hours have come when playing prickly protagonists, is particularly great as the passive-aggressive Becca, who has no idea where to place her anger, resulting in unpredictable outbursts at the slightest offenses. Eckhart’s Howie, meanwhile, is less moved to be the one who catches her when she falls, starting to drift away as he becomes uncertain about what his wife Becca actually wants.

Though it’s that uncertainty that drives the film — how a couple that once felt most intimate with each other suddenly feels disconnected — Mitchell has no such uncertainty as a director, providing a steady hand and an unadorned style to the proceedings. Of course, this is a departure from Mitchell’s previous films “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” and “Shortbus,” and if anything, he provokes here by stepping back, allowing Kidman and Eckhart to go uncomfortable places; in one particularly noteworthy scene, a squabble between Becca and Howie that is often a hallmark of the third act of dramas such as these arrives mid-film and is shot nakedly by cinematographer Frank DeMarco, dropping conventional composition, as if to let the scene pass by without comment.

Somehow, Mitchell retains the raw energy of a stage performance without ever descending into a film that is always reminding its audience it began life as a play. (Some credit is likely due to the fact Mitchell apparently spent a year editing “Rabbit Hole.”) It doesn’t hinge on a revenge plot a la “In the Bedroom” or fall into the trap of turning into a shouting match between angry spouses, instead acknowledging the mystery of sorrow and letting Kidman and Eckhart play all its nuances as the process of letting go becomes a burden as great as losing a child in the first place. As a result, the drama may be less pronounced, but the emotions are no less complex, creating a film that’s quietly devastating and elegant in its understatement.

“Rabbit Hole” was picked up by Lionsgate, who will distribute later this year. It will play once more in Toronto on September 18th.

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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.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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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:

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.