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“Homeland,” Reviewed

“Homeland,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Before he directed 1988’s astounding “The Vanishing” and 1993’s astoundingly disappointing American remake of the same film, Dutch filmmaker George Sluizer made a trilogy of documentaries entitled “Land of the Fathers” that followed two Palestinian families through their experiences in 1974, 1978 and 1983 — the last, “Adios Beirut,” he mentioned was sold to PBS but never broadcast. With “Homeland,” one of the films making its world premiere at Abu Dhabi, Sluizer revisits those two families, now spread out over Lebanon, Colombia, the U.A.E. and other locations, and also puts himself and his feelings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict center stage.

“Homeland” starts quietly, with Sluizer discussing his own history, the earlier films, the aneurysm two years ago that left him needing crutches or a wheelchair to get around, and how that brush with mortality encouraged him to revisit the past. It ends with him looking in on a comatose (and heavily Photoshopped) Ariel Sharon, telling him the world would have been a better place if he’d died in Auschwitz along with much of Sluizer’s Dutch family. So, no mincing around with ambiguities here. The sincerity of Sluizer’s feelings are without question — his reunions with each family member, particularly the elderly head of the large Hammad family, are tearful and joyous, his fury in the face of the displaced from their homes palpable.

But “Homeland” wanders into browbeating Michael Moore-style documentary techniques, even before Sluizer’s diatribe to an unhearing, hospitalized Sharon. He walks up to Jewish settlers living in a formerly Arab house in East Jerusalem and asks to speak to the young man who answers the door on camera. When the young man says that someone else in their household speaks to the press and that he’s not home at the moment, Sluizer taunts “I guess now the most oppressed have become the oppressors!” An interview he does get with an American settler who needs no help looking ridiculous is nevertheless abusively edited to cut her off mid-sentence in her responses. Discordant string music swells behind periodic quotes from Sharon and others about how “if I was only an Israeli civilian and met a Palestinian, I would burn him and make him suffer before killing him.”

Regardless of where you stand on Israel and Palestine, the amount of vitriol on display in “Homeland” and the determined one-sideness of the argument is startling and off-putting, the language on occasion powerfully uncomfortable — Sluizer speaks, for instance, about the biased reporting of all the “Jewish news agencies.” These things basically guarantee “Homeland” will never screen for an audience not already sympathetic towards and invested in the Palestinian cause — it won’t win someone over. (It’s slated to eventually air on the Aljazeera Documentary Channel, but at the moment has no theatrical distributor in place.) It’s fiery agitprop, but it’s not a well-made movie.

“Homeland” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

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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.