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Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” Wins Venice, Draws Controversy

Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” Wins Venice, Draws Controversy (photo)

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Top prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival went to Sofia Coppola for her film “Somewhere,” a film about a washed-up actor (played by Stephen Dorff) getting to know his 11-year-old daughter (basically it’s “I’m Still Here,” only less fictionalized). But somewhere in the Italian press, a controversy quickly began brewing over Coppola’s victory. The reason? The Venice jury was headed by Quentin Tarantino, who once dated Coppola.

The Hollywood Reporter quotes Paolo Mereghetti, film critic of Italy’s largest newpaper, as saying “The presidency of Quentin Tarantino runs the risk of turning into the most obvious conflict of interest possible if you remember that ‘Somewhere’ and ‘Road to Nowhere’ were charming and interesting in their own ways, but nothing more than that.” “Road to Nowhere,” by the way, is a new film from Monte Hellman, who directed the car chase classic (and “Death Proof” inspiration) “Two Lane Blacktop.” Hellman, a mentor of Tarantino, received a special prize from the Venice jury “for overall work.”

Do I think Tarantino was “playing favorites” with the award for Hellman? Probably. But so what? He invented a career achievement award and gave it to him. The Coppola accusation is far more serious, but also far less likely. I don’t know the state of Tarantino’s current relationship with Coppola and I haven’t seen “Somewhere.” But the mere description sounds like something up Tarantino’s alley in two big ways: a sad story of the Los Angeles underbelly (which describes every movie Tarantino made before “Death Proof”) and a faded star reclamation project for Dorff. Throw in some shots of women’s feet and Tarantino could have directed it himself. If he hadn’t had a relationship with its director, and he’d given the prize to “Somewhere” anyway, would we accuse him of liking it simply because it seemed like a movie he would make?

No, because that’s the guy’s taste. And if you don’t want Quentin Tarantino to give prizes to movies that fit his taste, don’t put him in a position to give out prizes to movies that fit his taste. Tarantino was announced as the head of the Venice jury on May 6, at the same time both Coppola and Hellman were announced as early members of the festival’s lineup. If the films weren’t worthy of consideration, or if there was concern on the part of the festival about a potential conflict of interest, they shouldn’t have been invited.

And why put all the blame on Tarantino? It wasn’t the QT Film Festival. He didn’t pick the films and he didn’t have the only vote. He was the head of a seven member jury, including composer Danny Elfman and director Arnaud Desplechin. Do they all have personal relationships with Coppola? Should we accuse them of trying to get on the Coppola wine comp list?

With respect to Mr. Mereghetti, the decisions of Tarantino’s jury, like the decisions of all juries at all festivals, are subjective. If they’d selected Mereghetti’s favorite film as the best feature, a “Somewhere” fan could have just as easily accused Tarantino of snubbing it because an ex-girlfriend he doesn’t get along with had made it. It was a no-win situation for him, and, unfortunately, for Coppola, who now has a proverbial asterisk branded into her Golden Lion.

For a full list of winners from Venice, go to the festival’s official website.

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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.