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Fun With Slate’s Hollywood Career-O-Matic

Fun With Slate’s Hollywood Career-O-Matic (photo)

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I’m good at my job because I’m eternally curious about the world of movies. And I’m bad at my job because I’m eternally curious about the world of movies. Once I find something about movies online, it’s kind of hard to stop looking at it. My doctor calls it “Internet addiction.” I call it my “mutant power.” We agree to disagree.

Today my obsessive tendencies have me playing with a new web page from Slate called The Hollywood Career-O-Matic. Basically Christopher Beam and Jeremy Singer-Vine used the movie review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes to compile sets of data about working Hollywood actors and directors. When you enter a name into the Career-O-Matic, seen above, it spits out a line graph charting the ups and downs of that filmmaker’s critical reception over time. By moving the mouse over the points on the graph, you get pop-ups of the names of the movies, their release date, and their Rotten Tomatoes score. It’s a fun, user-friendly way to access the scope of a filmmaker’s career and to see, in an instant, what someone’s best and worst reviewed movies were (Michael Bay’s best? “The Rock.” His worst? “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”).

But it gets much more interesting from there because you can plug more than one name into the Career-O-Matic, and compare two or more filmmakers’ careers side-by-side. For example, the graph above was actually the very first one I plugged into the Career-O-Matic: Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Sylvester Stallone.

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The results aren’t perfect; the Career-O-Matic doesn’t filter out cameos (something that would be apprecaited in a C-O-M 2.0), which means Schwarzenegger’s second best received picture is “Dave,” which he is barely in. And the database only goes back to 1985; meaning Arnold is spared the unflattering comparison of “Hercules in New York” versus “Rocky.” But it is still fascinating to compare these peers’ work in this way. The best reviewed picture either ever made during this period is “Terminator 2: Judgment Day;” while the highest score Stallone’s received came for his voice only, as an animated bug in “Antz.” It’s also interesting to observe how both of their careers cratered simultaneously in the mid- and late-90s, suggesting shifts in public taste for action films, and how they’ve enjoyed a slight resurgence in the last half-decade, suggesting a certain nostalgia for their style of films.

Okay, so I got the obvious out of the way. What’s next? How about this one:

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Director versus director, brother versus brother, Ridley and Tony Scott. Again, we’re limited by our data starting in 1985 (meaning no “Alien,” “Blade Runner,” or “The Hunger”) but we do see similar gradual downward trajectories in both cases. At least until recently; it does seem the reevaluation of Tony Scott as something of a phantom auteur by certain artier sects of the critical community has begun to seep into criticism at large. While three out of Ridley’s last four films have been amongst the worst reviewed of his career (and the fourth, the dreadful “American Gangster,” received an impossibly generous score of 79), Tony’s stock is on the rise: after bottoming out with “Domino,” he rebounded with “Deja Vu” (which is inexplicably absent from his graph) and “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” then scored his best reviewed movie in fifteen years with last year’s “Unstoppable.” The numbers are so close between them I’m not sure who comes out on top. Someone get these two to dual it out in a vicious battle of slaps to determine the winner.

All right, one more before I lose all day to this thing.

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Here we’ve got arguably the two biggest names in American independent film since the early 1990s, Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh. Clearly, Tarantino takes the match in terms of average score; other than the dark spot on his directorial career that is the anthology “Four Rooms,” Tarantino doesn’t have a film to his name that rates less than a 60. Soderbergh has a lot more critical flops (and his own poorly received anthology, “Eros”) but he’s also got a lot more movies, period. As you can see from the long stretch between dots on his green line, in the six years between Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” and “Kill Bill: Volume 1,” Soderbergh made seven movies, including “Traffic,” “Eric Brockavich,” and “Ocean’s Eleven.” Also, it’s kind of surprising that the highest rated Tarantino movie isn’t “Pulp Fiction;” it’s “Reservoir Dogs.” I don’t know anyone who prefers the latter above the former, but that’s not necessarily the way Rotten Tomatoes works. They chart consensus, not passion.

I could go on and on with this thing. And I want to. But I’ll leave it here for now. It’s time for you to play with the Career-O-Matic for yourself. I’d love to hear some more comparisons in the comments section; maybe we can do a follow-up post later of the most interesting ones.

Got a good combination for the Hollywood Career-O-Matic? Tell us about it in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!

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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.