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DID YOU READ

Armond White vs. The World

Armond White vs. The World (photo)

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Armond White, the internet’s favorite film critic, strikes back against his detractors and the online consensus mob mentality in an article at the New York Press — after provoking more ire by being one of (at the time I’m writing this) only three negative reviews of “The Social Network” at Rotten Tomatoes. Regardless of where you stand on Armond’s writing and opinions, it’s a worthwhile read that lands some punches with regard to the spoilers police, the eclipsing of criticism by studio marketing, and the insanity of attacking writers for giving a film an unexpected bad (or, in the case of “Vampires Suck,” good) review:

Ridiculing the need for mature thought and discriminating judgment diminishes film culture. Any opinion that challenges the blockbuster market gets punished. We never experience a healthy exchange of ideas. The social networking approach to criticism encourages anti-intellectual harassment and the excoriation of individual response; it may spell the end of critical habits altogether.

The hostility that greets a pan of an anticipated film does seem to speak to a culture in which anticipation of what’s coming has become more important than what it’s like when it actually arrives. Worse, there’s the undercurrent of criticism being a killjoy, or taking too seriously what are “only movies,” as if to have higher expectations is to ask too much of an industry and an art that has huge cultural and financial impact in our lives.

Of course, for every valid point that Mr. White makes, there’s another that goes totally wild. His criticism of internet film culture includes everything from “The Social Network” to “trendy aggregate websites” like Rotten Tomatoes to “attacks from bloggers.” It indicates misunderstandings about how the internet works — he conflates bloggers with commenters (who leave “posts” on RT) and social networking sites with aggregators; he attaches significance to the way that “over three million Google results offered links to the ad hominem ferocity” — to his RT link? to the entry for the film? from where? And he addresses online culture as an impossible monolith in a way that can’t help but be seen as a “kids these days” rant.

And finally, he writes that “a new model of cultural response is taking over: criticism of criticism–and critics–as a pointless, snaky substitute for examining films themselves.” But in the field of “print” critics, if that’s a meaningful designation anymore, White has always been the worst offender in devoting whole segments of his reviews to the failures of his fellow critics. A few selections from his reviews:

“Critics preferred Let the Right One In for its selfpitying view of adolescence.” — from “Let Me In”

“The familiarity of these clichés explains the critical raves for Affleck’s two directorial stints. Given their specious ethnic subject matter, it is necessary to point out the mainstream media’s preference for this heist fantasy over the superior Takers as proof of racial preference; critics swallow Affleck’s thuggish pieties while ignoring the ethnic details in Takers and dismissing director John Luessenhop’s splendid distillation of genre form that gave it speed and complexity.” — from “The Town”

“If critics and fanboys weren’t suckers for simplistic nihilism and high-pressure marketing, Afterlife would be universally acclaimed as a visionary feat, superior to Inception and Avatar on every level.” — from “Resident Evil: Afterlife”

“Clooney’s still on his anti-American kick, sentimentalizing the corruption that appeals to cynical film critics who fall for his forced, noxious ‘charm.'” — from “The American”

“Most critics misjudged Wright’s 2006 Hot Fuzz as simply a cop movie parody; they completely ignored the sting in Wright’s spoofing how the English class system is repeated in its law enforcement bureaucracy and his bemused critique of its threatening arcane social traditions.” — from “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”

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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.