This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


NYAFF 2005: Three…Extremes.

Posted by on

Takashi Miike's "The Box"The ostensible sequel to earlier multi-director Asian horror anthology "Three," "Three…Extremes" is another trinity of shorts from three different directors: Fruit Chan of Hong Kong’s "Dumplings," Park Chan-wook of Korea’s "Cut," and Takashi Miike of Japan’s "The Box." Presumably more edgy than the original "Three," "Three…Extremes" has garnered considerably more international attention than the first film due to the fact that this set of directors are particularly hot shit right now.

Sharing nothing thematically to string them together, the films are a mixed bag best taken in pieces. "Dumplings," from the least well known director of the bunch, is also by far the best, a gleefully disturbing and occasionally poignant combination of the macabre and the mundane. Miriam Yeung stars as a former actress whose inability to accept the fact that she’s aging leads her to track down a woman (Bai Ling) known for making dumplings with remarkable rejuvenating qualities. The growing dread as we figure out, along with Yeung’s character, what exactly goes into the dumplings is truly Cronenberg-worthy. Ling is particularly good as a cheerful, rough-mannered mainlander who approaches her gruesome craft with the unaffected callousness of someone raised slaughtering animals on a farm.

"Dumplings" is beautifully photographed by Christopher Doyle, and, except for one memorable shot at the end, eschews shocks in favor of pacing and the occasional gross-out moment. The sound design is also notable — eating noises have never been quite so horrific. There’s a feature-length version of "Dumplings" floating around without US distribution that we’re planning to look up after this.

Park Chan-wook, whose Cannes Jury-prizewinner "Oldboy" earned him the adoration of hip audiences everywhere, directed the second story, "Cut," a campy, sometimes funny attempt at Grand Guignol. "A Bittersweet Life" star Lee Byung-hun plays a director who comes home after a long day on set, only to be kidnapped, along with his wife, by a disgruntled extra, who, angry at various broad injustices in life, strings the director’s wife up with piano wire and threatens to chop her fingers off, one at a time, until the director strangles the random young girl the extra grabbed off the street.

Park is fond of flashy, David Fincheresque camerawork that suited "Oldboy" but here is just distracting. His meta-ish jokes aren’t particularly clever, and the tonal shifts from drama to black comedy to whatever else are jarring enough that we never get a sense of the characters or understand them on any level deeper than sharing their desire for the event to end (Kang Hye-jeong, who played Mi-do in "Oldboy," is particularly shrill as the wife). The setting is fabulous, however, a set that looks like it was designed by a gothy twelve-year-old girl, with a black and white tiled floor, velvet furniture, and Kang strung up like a human-sized Victorian marionette at the grand piano.

Like many of Takashi Miike‘s films, the final story, "The Box," appears to have been conceived on the basis of one or two striking images, and the rest of it thrown in as filler to get us there. Kyoko Hasegawa plays Kyoko, a novelist haunted (literally) by her past in the form of her dead twin sister. As young girls, they were contortionists/dancers as part of their father’s act, which appears to be some ghastly combination of Cirque du Soleil and "Carnivàle." Dark, richly colored flashbacks alternate with snowy, sparse shots of the present day, as Kyoko flutters around in the snow acting fragile, and finally reveals the secrets of her past.

Though rather lovely, "The Box" is structured around a dream/not dream structure that renders the storyline utterly incomprehensible. There’s a standard droopy-haired girl ghost, a frighteningly realistic doll, a character standing out in precipitation wearing mime make-up a la "Abre Los Ojos," reoccurring imagery of being buried alive, and some incest thrown in for what’s ultimately an empty exercise in style.


+ NYAFF: Princess Raccoon



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

Posted by on
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

Posted by on

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.

Posted by on
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.