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DID YOU READ

“The Last Mountain,” Reviewed

“The Last Mountain,” Reviewed (photo)

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In the state where it takes place, “The Last Mountain” occupies the loneliest corner, the “last “referring to the Coal River Mountain, the only peak that hasn’t been reduced to rubble for the sake of coal production in West Virginia. And the film itself, the latest from “The Price of Sugar” director Bill Haney, is equally isolating, a well-built argument against the destruction of the Appalachian mountains to feed our nation’s energy needs that ditches any sense of objectivity early on and directs its message firmly at those who already lean towards banning corporations from drilling to prevent the destruction of the region and worse, the debilitating effects on the health of its citizenry as both the water and air become contaminated with coal dust.

Even amidst the debris, Haney clearly lays out the gradual demolition of mountain tops and the erosion of laws that were intended to protect them from the 1970s forward. In Haney’s view, this is an apolitical debate between those who value life and those who don’t, making the villains’ greed especially reckless. Fox News is a conspicuously ambivalent presence during news montages, the then-Governor of West Virginia, now-Senator Joe Manchin, who doesn’t miss a chance to say he’s a “friend of coal,” is a Democrat and the growing swell of anti-coal advocates look the part of those who should be voting Democrat but likely skew red.

RobertFKennedyJrLastMountain_06012011.jpgYet the film still finds a white knight in Robert F. Kennedy Jr., less a subject for the film than a collaborator who helps illustrate West Virginia’s plight from a state of idyllic horse farms to polluted ghost towns, and an obvious villain in Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who’s introduced wearing a particularly garish red, white and blue outfit and bragging about the $1 million he’s spent on the pro-coal rally he’s speaking in front of. You probably don’t need me to tell you that Blankenship is on the hook for a lot more than money in Haney’s documentary — between the lobbyists Massey’s hired to press for less drilling restrictions and the workers he’s let go to make way for machines, he’s left behind blackened earth where communities used to be.

That much of “The Last Mountain” actually is beautiful, with polished cinematography from the trio of Tim Hotchner, Stephen McCarthy and Jerry Risius and deft editing by Peter Rhodes, makes the medicine go down easier, but there’s no doubt to some, it will still feel like medicine, even as expertly executed as the final product is. As a film, it suffers from a syndrome of many activist-driven documentaries, which as important as they are, still connect on an ideological level rather than an emotional one, despite the scenes of the elderly being dragged from town hall meetings and the visible rage of the talking heads. There is a narrative compiling the testimony of environmental scholars and local victims, but not necessarily a story to cling onto for anyone who is not already a believer in their cause. Still, “The Last Mountain” offers an education and if you’re willing to listen, it’s a devastating history.

“The Last Mountain” opens in New York and Washington D.C. on June 3rd before expanding into limited release.

Do you want to see “The Last Mountain”? Let us know 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.