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DID YOU READ

Maria Schneider, 1952-2011.

Maria Schneider, 1952-2011. (photo)

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“Last Tango in Paris” is a tragedy that grows more tragic with age. Though people who’ve never seen it associate with its graphic sex scenes, it is much more about grief than eroticism. It is an uncomfortable film to watch in the first place, revisiting upon the deaths of its creators makes it even more so. When Marlon Brando died in 2004, I rewatched it and now that Brando’s co-star, Maria Schneider, died earlier this week at the age of 58 of an undisclosed illness, I revisited the film again.

As every single obituary written about Schneider will tell you, she was just 19 when she was cast by Bernardo Bertolucci to co-star in “Last Tango” with Brando. She played Jeanne, a young woman engaged to a film director. Apartment hunting in Paris, she finds a place and discovers Brando’s Paul sitting inside. His wife has just committed suicide and he’s looking for a new home himself. They talk for the first time in the apartment, but they’ve already met twice and not realized it. She passes him on the street, and soon after uses a telephone booth after Paul without noticing him. It’s as if fate is pushing these two people together towards a common destiny.

“Last Tango” is available on Netflix Watch Instantly. When I heard the news of Schneider’s death, I turned it on, looking more closely at Schneider’s performance than I had before. She does a good job in what must have been nearly impossible circumstances. I like Roger Ebert’s reassessment of his own initially negative perception of Schneider’s performance in his “Great Movies” essay about “Last Tango:”

“Schneider’s performance has been discounted over the years. This is said to be Brando’s film. ‘Both characters are enigmas,’ I wrote in 1995, ‘but Brando knows Paul, while Schneider is only walking in Jeanne’s shoes.’ Seeing the film again, I believe I was wrong. Schneider, who plays much of the film completely nude, who is held in closeup during long scenes of extraordinary complexity, who at 22 had hardly acted before, shares the film with Brando and meets him in the middle. What Hollywood actress of the time could have played Brando on his own field?”

Absolutely correct. To dismiss Maria Schneider because she’s not as good as Marlon Brando in “Last Tango in Paris,” is like dismissing Dwayne Wade’s role on the Miami Heat because he’s not as good a basketball player as his teammate LeBron James. Schneider was held to an unfair and impossible standard, and as a result got a raw deal that was never fully rectified in her lifetime.

You can read quotes from Schneider about making the movie; the ones on her Wikipedia page suggest that she enjoyed the early attention the film brought her, as any 19-year-old suddenly thrust in the spotlight probably would. But later, Schneider realized that no matter what she did in life she would be forever followed by the things she had done and shown in “Last Tango.” Reuters’ obituary quotes an interview Schneider gave in 2007 with The Daily Mail, when she said “I felt very sad because I was treated like a sex symbol — I wanted to be recognized as an actress and the whole scandal and aftermath of the film turned me a little crazy and I had a breakdown.”

Schneider’s IMDb page indicates she worked pretty steadily through the 1980s and 1990s. But apart from her role opposite Jack Nicholson in Antonioni’s “The Passenger” — a film that’s only gotten its due in the last decade — nothing came close to replacing the image “Last Tango” left in people’s mind. It’s a sad story that makes a tragic film even sadder.

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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.