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The Long Tale of “The Snake”

The Long Tale of “The Snake” (photo)

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If the end of the year is a time to reflect on mistakes made and relationships lost (and of course, the good stuff, too), there may not be a better way to start the new year than with a screening of “The Snake,” a wicked little low-budget comedy about a scoundrel whose transgressions in the dating scene and life in general will instantly improve one’s outlook for themselves in ’10. Not to mention that it’s very, very funny.

“The Snake” is the feature debut of Eric Kutner and Adam Goldstein, the latter of whom also stars as Ken, the mustachioed scoundrel in question, who infiltrates a support group for females with body image issues after becoming fixated on bedding a bulimic and proceeds to alienate every member with his boorish behavior. Shot on nights and weekends over the course of six months in San Francisco, “The Snake” caught the attention of Patton Oswalt, who presented it in a one-off screening at SXSW last spring before it laid low and was bandied about in conversations about the film festival discoveries of ’09. Now, the film is available online and on demand and I caught up with Kutner and Goldstein to talk about the film’s evolution, the etiquette of second-act vomiting and being considered part of mumblecore.

Did you guys actually develop the character before starting on a screenplay or did the screenplay came first?

EK: What kind of came first was the title of the film. I remember when the title first occurred to me, I was in New York and I was talking with this girl and a friend of mine was actually at the bar as well with his girlfriend at the time and while the girlfriend was outside having a smoke, he pulled the number of this girl I had met. I told this story later to my uncle, and my uncle said, “he’s the snake.” And I thought — that’s a really interesting title for a film, that would be an interesting character.

01042010_TheSnake1.jpgAG: Yes, the character evolved first — that was the thing we focused on. How we could put all our sexually oriented neuroses and libido issues into one vessel. [laughs]

EK: In writing the character of Ken, we always knew that Adam would be playing him. Adam is not Clive Owen. The movie was not going to be “Alfie.”

AG: Yes, we weren’t about to cast me as a sexy lothario who makes all women weak in the knees and all men admire him every time he struts past. It was going to be a guy who tried really hard, and it was potentially a little sad.

If you were shooting for over a year, did you go all Daniel Day-Lewis for the part, Adam?

AG: No, but there are aspects of the character that seep into your life. And then bear in mind that I had to wear that hairstyle and mustache for like six, eight months and if you think people didn’t look at me like I was a total fucking creep, you’d be wrong. [laughs]

EK: That was a difficult moment, when we were going to take a little time to work on the edit and scenes we need to reshoot, and I was like, “Adam, you’ve got to keep that mustache. Don’t shave the mustache!” And Adam was like, “please let me cut this off! Pleeeease.”

01052010_thesnakerules.jpgYou also famously made a set of rules for things you didn’t want to have in your film. Why was that important?

EK: We were working in a genre that doesn’t exactly exist, but [would best be described as] the reforming of a cad. He’s going to grow a bit, he’s going to learn a bit. In looking at a lot of [similar] movies, we could see all kinds of things we wanted to avoid because they felt false.

AG: We had a rule for “no vomiting,” and what we meant by that was oftentimes we found in independent films about a tortured personality, somewhere towards the end of the second act, they’re going to have a really rough night and throw up. That’ll somehow be indicative of the fact that they’re going to purge. It’s also going to show that they’re bottom of the barrel. How pathetic and bestial can they be? Oh, they’re lying in a pool of their own wretch. So we’re like — let’s not do that scene.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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