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Last week’s critic wrangle: Delayed reaction.

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Carlie Westerman as SylvieIt’s been a while since we’ve done one of these (we keep meaning to and then the day slips away from us — and were intimidated by the very thought of trying to digest all of those "Batman Begins" reviews into a paragraph), but once again Armond White summons us to back.

+ "Me and You and Everyone We Know": We loved this film, and it got a warm to ecstatic critical reception this past weekend, opening in New York. That being said, we could easily see how someone wouldn’t like it. It flirts with preciousness, and though, save for one moment (Christine, in her car, writing on the windshield, if you’ve seen it), the film held us totally in its grasp, we assumed it wouldn’t be many others’ cup of tea. There are several other reasonable complaints you could lodge against it, none of which the New York Press‘ Armond White makes in his snarling take-down.

If I had never seen a film by D.W. Griffith, Antonioni, Ozu, John Ford, Vincente Minnelli or Prince, I might have been impressed by performance artist Miranda July’s Cannes award-winning directorial debut, "Me and You and Everyone We Know." It’s contemporary high art, made as though no cinema about human experience had ever existed—as if being wimpy and sweet about this thing called life was justified by the "indie" filmmaking label.

Does an even mildly ambitious film have to be Antonioni to get a good review out of you, M. White? Or would you prefer that no one attempt "cinema about human experience" anymore, it being just done to death these days?

We don’t want to dwell so much on White’s reviews, which are clearly written to provoke and to differ from the crowd (is there anyone more conscious of what the other critics are saying about a film?). "Me and You" might well be the kind of film that’s tailor-made to please critics (particularly the "hipster critics" White railed against in the 2004 Slate Movie Club) and a certain type of indie movie-goer likely to go see it. But what of it? It may not be Ozu, but we haven’t heard anyone labeling as such, and simplicity in a film shouldn’t automatically be a pejorative. Anyway, we’re a little frustrated because White touches on these ideas that have such validity ("indie films" becoming a parade of particularly navel-gazing, sensitive, Sundance-y ensemble weepies) and then makes such inflammatory, erratic statement that we have no idea what kind of good film he’s championing.

Over at indieWIRE, the Reverse Shot crew like the film quite a bit better than White. Lead reviewer Kristi Mitsuda is particularly enchanted, saying that it "achieves a rare distinction: It manages to make a cinematic exploration of love, that most done-to-death of all themes, effervescently fresh again." Nicolas Rapold and Elbert Ventura, responding, seem fond if not as rapturous. David Edelstein at Slate sums up how we felt about it, as something:

admirable and wondrously strange—as well as gorgeous, funny, dreamlike, mesmerizing, squirmy, and occasionally annoying, the way a borderline-precious solo performance can be. But if you get on the movie’s wavelength, the annoying parts just melt into the ether.

A. O. Scott over at the New York Times admits as well that the film is calculated and won’t work for everyone. Of Miranda July’s main character Christine:

Her provocations may strike some people as overly cute, and her self-consciousness as a tiresome form of solipsism. But "Me and You and Everyone We Know" is brave enough to risk this rejection, and generous enough not to deserve it. I like it very much, and I hope you will, too.

And Anthony Lane at the New Yorker weighs in today with criticism of the film, though more balanced than White’s. Basically, it’s too calculated for him, and he’s not charmed (Christine also strikes him as a "bunny-boiler").

+ Don’t Know Much. (NY Press)
+ American Beauty: Miranda July’s "Me and You and Everyone We Know" (indieWIRE)
+ Christmas in July (Slate)
+ An Artistic Eye Wide Open, Observing Odd, Lost Souls (NY Times)
+ Bewildered (New Yorker)



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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GIFs via Giphy

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.”


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. 


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.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…


IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.


IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.