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Joel Schumacher explains why he isn’t surprised by Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” success

Joel Schumacher explains why he isn’t surprised by Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” success (photo)

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When “The Dark Knight Rises” hits theaters next year, it will present the final chapter in Christopher Nolan’s record-breaking Batman trilogy that relaunched, redefined, and reinvigorated DC’s iconic superhero. And while there’s been no shortage of reboots on the big and small screens lately, few have been as successful as the “Inception” filmmaker’s take on Gotham’s favorite vigilante — especially when you consider the franchise’s status prior to Nolan’s arrival.

After finding success in 1995’s “Batman Forever,” which pitted the hero (played by Val Kilmer) against Riddler (Jim Carrey) and Two-Face (Tommy Lee Jones), director Joel Schumacher was convinced to return for a sequel. The resulting film, 1997’s critically panned “Batman & Robin,” was such an overwhelming disappointment that it became known as the film that “killed” the Batman franchise.

Thankfully, Nolan came along in 2005 with “Batman Begins” — a film that not only exorcised the character’s big-screen demons, but earned him praise from filmmakers throughout the industry for his inventive re-imagining of the shadowy crusader. One of those filmmakers happy to give credit where it’s due is Schumacher himself.

“Chris Nolan is one of my favorite directors,” Schumacher told IFC while discussing his upcoming film “Trespass,” starring Nicolas Cage. “Years ago I was doing press in Paris, and I was with Eli Richbourg. We were looking for a movie that wasn’t in French . . . and we saw this British film called ‘Following.’ It’s in black and white and it’s Chris Nolan’s first film, and . . . I just thought it was the work of a brilliant young director. So I always had him in the back of my mind, thinking, ‘We’re going to hear from this guy, big time.’ Then I saw ‘Memento’ and the promise was fulfilled very fast.”

“I think Chris Nolan is brilliant and I think Heath [Ledger] was extraordinary [in ‘The Dark Knight.’],” he added. “Chris is a master and he’s so young, and god knows what’s coming from him now.”

And from the sound of things, Schumacher is just as interested as the rest of us in seeing what Nolan has planned for “The Dark Knight Rises.”

“I always look forward to what he’s going to do next,” he said. “Unlike some of my peers in the business, I am inspired by films I love, not jealous of them. When I see a film that disappoints — and I’m sure I’ve made some of them — that kind of depresses me. I don’t go to the theater to dislike a movie, and I don’t think the audience does either.”

“Actually, it’s critics that go to a movie to dislike it,” he laughed. “They don’t go as fans.”

And while he’s had to take some flak over the years for “Batman & Robin,” his first Batman film still holds a place in his heart.

As he sees it, every director who’s had a chance to get behind the camera for a Batman movie has created a version of the character that is quintessentially their own — whether it’s Nolan’s Batman, his Batman, or the version presented by their predecessor, Tim Burton.

“I think that Tim Burton’s Batman movies are so Tim Burton,” he explained. “And I think ‘Batman Forever’ is really my movie.”

What do you think of Schumacher’s comments regarding Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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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.