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Tribeca 2011: “Stuck Between Stations,” Reviewed

Tribeca 2011: “Stuck Between Stations,” Reviewed (photo)

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As someone that only watches films rather than make them, my favorite thing about the RED camera, the digital camera that has democratized high quality imagery amongst low budget filmmakers, is the clarity not only of the imagery, but the specificity it allows for regional writer/directors to bring out the best in their hometown. In recent years, we’ve seen Portland as it’s never been shot before by Aaron Katz and crew in “Cold Weather,” the Joe Maggio-directed Tribeca selection “The Last Rites of Joe May” captures Chicago in a different light and then there’s “Stuck Between Stations,” the feature debut of Brady Kiernan, a Minneapolis native who, with cinematographer Bo Hakala, creates a portrait of the city that wouldn’t seem out of place if it were framed in the Walker Art Center.

Ultimately, that’s what separates Kiernan’s film from the so many others that have been born in the wake of “Before Sunrise,” the platonic yet romantic drama that launched a thousand walk-and-talk independent films that make up for limited budgets with lots of profound (or so the filmmakers would think) statements about life. If reading that alone makes you instantly recoil, you may want to stop reading now, though it was to my great surprise while watching “Stuck Between Stations” that there is still a place for them when they have strong performers at their center and an interesting place to stroll.

04232011_StuckBetweenStations2.jpgWith the streets, biking trails and bridges of Minneapolis at their disposal, Becky (Zoe Lister-Jones) and Casper (Sam Rosen) spend an evening together after running into each other at a local bar, a first since the two went to high school together, though they actually didn’t have much contact except for occasional random pairing in class. In fact, Becky doesn’t recognize Casper immediately as he’s describing her to a friend on his cell phone as she was once an unattainable dream girl and still is, to some degree, when she stands before him after hearing her name. As it turns out for Becky, Casper is a perfect companion for a night since he’s familiar enough to feel comfortable around, particularly if he still feels slightly inferior, and yet won’t be dismayed by her recent dalliance with a professor (Michael Imperioli) that’s at the forefront of her mind, particularly since she needs to retrieve a computer from the prof’s house, which is being guarded like a hawk by his wife (Nadja Dajani).

The two share war stories both literal and figurative since Casper’s on leave from a tour in Afghanistan since his father died and grant themselves the diversions of basketball with an aluminum can, makeshift parties with circus performers and trips to psychedelic public access shows on the way to discovering that their shared pain over the years and joy over this evening has resulted in bringing them closer together than they ever were in the 3rd grade. The script, written by Rosen and Nat Bennett, is chock with enough wonderfully playful exchanges to keep the film humming even when it veers towards the grim conventions of the genre such as when exactly each of the pair will launch into a monologue about their self-destructive behavior or ultimately when or if they’ll share a kiss, and there’s a palpable chemistry between Lister-Jones and Rosen that makes such a transient bond feel possible and full of possibilities.

Still, it’s the way Kiernan develops the film’s third character of Minneapolis that resounded most, a place not known to be all that romantic but is shot with such specificity, whether it’s during a 3 a.m. midnight supermarket run or a bike ride (with a perfectly pitched cameo from locally-bred Josh Hartnett as a frenemy of Casper’s) on unpaved territory, that a love for the area and its characters floods off the screen. In that sense, “Stuck Between Stations” has a very homemade feel in the best way possible, even if neither Casper or Becky can ever truly go home again.

“Stuck Between Stations” does not yet have U.S. distribution, but will play the Tribeca Film Festival on April 24th, 25th and 28th.

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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.