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DID YOU READ

“Take Shelter,” Reviewed

“Take Shelter,” Reviewed (photo)

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Curtis (Michael Shannon), the central figure of Jeff Nichols’ powerful, enigmatic drama “Take Shelter,” is living in the grip of overpowering dread. An Ohio man with a wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain), a little girl, Hannah (Tova Stewart), who’s deaf, a construction job and a house on the edge of a field, Curtis is plagued with dreams of apocalypse, of swarming black birds, giant storms rolling in from the skyline, thunder and lightning, a thick rain that brings madness to anyone caught out in it. These visions are so powerful he can’t shake them when awake — after one in which his frenzied dog bites his arm, he can’t bring himself to trust the animal anymore in the light of day, and ends up banishing him to a fenced in area in the backyard.

Curtis has a family history of schizophrenia, but “Take Shelter” leaves it ambiguous as to how much of his disintegration is due to mental illness and how much is just due to a larger unease and instability that seems symptomatic of time in which we all live. Curtis’ life is neither radically comfortable nor precarious, but it’s beset on all sides by possible threats and hazards. There’s Hannah’s condition, which appears to be a relatively recent development, and the possibility on the horizon of her getting a cochlear implant, but there’s also the mortgage, the job, their health insurance, their savings, their bank loan. The obvious fragility of the life Curtis and his family have carved out for themselves seems to be wearing away at him and manifesting in these overblown, frightening hallucinations, which aren’t distinguished in the way that they’re shot from reality except in the tension and anxiety with which they unfold.

Shannon is a maestro when it comes to playing mentally unbalanced characters, and Curtis offers him an embarrassment of riches in his psychological and physical breakdown, floundering under the weight of his growing distress, his desire to hide his troubles from his wife and his helpless fixation on the storm cellar behind their house, which he begins to build out as a kind of survivalist fallout shelter, with food, beds and ventilation. He understands that he looks unwell to everyone around him, but is also utterly convinced of the impending destruction of the world, and given that we’re partial to his visions, to the beautifully, disturbingly realized storms on the horizon, we understand his distress like no one else. “Take Shelter” builds to potent climax that suggests it’s impossible to live normally without letting go of these types of misgivings, but also acknowledges how irresistible they are. These days, who doesn’t feel, and fear, a storm building on the horizon?

“Take Shelter” will be released by Sony Classics later this year.

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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.