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Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “Too Big To Fail” Premieres on HBO

Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “Too Big To Fail” Premieres on HBO (photo)

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When New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin penned his book “Too Big To Fail” on the U.S. government’s decision to bail out the big banks in 2008, it’s unlikely he was thinking that William Hurt would make a great Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. And yet, he does. Last night, HBO aired a dramatic historical reenactment of the tense days chronicled in Sorkin’s book, “Too Big To Fail.” The made-for-TV movie stars Hurt as Paulson and Paul Giamatti as a dead ringer for Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke as they attempt to revive the American economy as it teeters on the brink of collapse in light of bad debt, over lending, and greed. It’s like a modern day Cuban Missile Crisis, with banks standing in for Russia and mortgage-backed securities standing in for missiles. There’s a lot less smoking, though. And, unfortunately, a lot less drama.

There is no doubt that writing a thriller based on the world of credit default swaps and Congressional oversight meetings is tough going. Toxic assets are far less compelling than the Toxic Avenger and billion-dollar banks aren’t exactly the grieving widows of melodramas. However, when adapting the book, the movie seems to have taken its cues from a “Law & Order” episode, with bank owners and public employees standing in for the district attorneys. Except minus an actual body, the action seems unnecessarily dramatic. There’s a lot of staring out windows meaningfully, thumping music, and the number of times some variation of the phrase, “If we do nothing, the economy will be dead by morning,” made it feel like the screenwriters were relying on “The Secret” to sell the drama. If they say the story is dramatic often enough, then it will be. Unfortunately, it’s not. However, If watching white men in suits arguing with other white men in suits gets you on the edge of your seat, this movie is for you.

Not to say the story isn’t compelling. The U.S. economy was on the brink of collapse and seeing a somewhat fictionalized account of the behind-the-scenes machinations of the U.S. government and the symbiotic relationship with Wall Street is both fascinating and horrifying. Additionally, the acting by the star-studded cast (Ed Asner! Billy Crudup! Topher Grace! James Woods! Bill Pullman! Cynthia Nixon!) is phenomenal and there is no doubt this will dominate the appropriate categories at the Emmy Awards. However, it’s also just a tetch dull and ends up feeling like you’re sitting through a high production value civics class run by a really cool professor. However if you are interested in learning about the near collapse of the economy and the bailout, your time may be better spent listening to This American’s Life’s fascinating story, “The Giant Pool of Money”.

We Don’t Have Options

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

E.coli-class-

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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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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GIFs via Giphy

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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