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DID YOU READ

A weekend rec and other randomness.

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"I should have been born in the Rococo era."We don’t know about you, but we’re hoping to go home, crawl into bed and picturesquely expire. Or maybe just take a nap, we’ll decide when we get there. For y’all, however, as we wouldn’t recommend seeing either "An Unfinished Life," despite a fine turn by Bart the Bear II, or "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," "cultural document" or not. Nor is "Green Street Hooligans" looking worth shelling out at the theater (despite La Manohla‘s promising reading of the film as a sort of sublimated male love story…tempting, but we’ll wait for the DVD), and we know we should be all excited about "Keane," but we really just aren’t up for it. If you’re in New York, though, we do suggest taking a look at a film that we didn’t have a chance to review fully on the News site but would like to say nice things about now: "Kamikaze Girls," Tetsuya Nakashima‘s goofy tale of the friendship between a Gothic Lolita type and a tough biker girl in a small rural town in Japan.

The film’s told from the perspective of Momoko, who loves frilly dresses and dreams of a life devoted to leisure in Rococo-era France. She’s cheerfully isolated herself from everyone around her and from life in general until she has friendship forced onto her by Ichiko, a member of a girl’s biker gang. Light but never syrupy, the film’s got a surreal and loopy sense of the visual, particularly in the frantic introductory sequences (they’re almost reminiscent of "Toto le héros" in tone), but also has surprising, and biting, poignance. Momoko’s detachment from the ugly, or at least not pretty, realities of life around her is several times depicted with her literally floating away into the sky, a curiously appropriate image for someone who’s managed to protect herself from a capricious upbringing and monstrously childish parents by studiously avoiding attachment to anyone but herself (and her beloved Baby, The Stars Shine Bright frocks). Anyway, it’s the kind of film we’d be in the mood to watch again this weekend, if we ever manage to peel ourselves off the couch.

We haven’t really even touched on Venice yet and they’re already starting to hand out prizes. Oy. Anyway, see Greencine Daily, they’ve got all you need when it comes to that festival. Here‘s the latest dispatch.

You may have noticed that we went through a brief obsession with "Hustle & Flow" and how much we hated it. Fortunately, the LA Weekly seems to feel the same, and, only a week after Scott Foundas‘ gleeful look at the film’s failure to live up to its own hype and "March of the Penguins"‘ unexpected success, they give us an excellent essay from Erin Aubry Kaplan on, essentially, the future of black film, and also on why "Hustle & Flow" sucks. We don’t want to make light — it’s a must-read. Some choice quotes:

At a time when white fantasies about black urban life have become routine, this movie, couched in full indie street cred courtesy of Sundance (where it won the Audience Award for dramatic feature), takes the genre to a level of exploitation and insult unique to the millennium. This is a nigger-fest minus some of the saturated color and amped soundtrack that a studio-produced movie would have — in short, minus the gloss that at least acknowledges the cartoonishness of the whole enterprise. But no such self-awareness exists in Hustle and its stripped-down "real" world, where all black men are thugs, criminals or rap artists, or — what’s the difference, really? — aspiring to be. Otherwise, they’re not authentic black men, which is one of the movie’s most pernicious racial messages (and, believe me, there are many).

And also:

Then, adding insult to injury, [Craig] Brewer perverts black history by conflating it with the effort to make a hit record out of "Whoop That Trick" — framing the exploitative song’s journey in can-do sentiments like "I have a dream" and "By any means necessary." That "Whoop That Trick" serves as the movie’s sole vehicle of black ambition, the pinnacle of everybody’s dreams — black and white, male and female — is not only hackneyed, it’s toxic. Martin and Malcolm are surely turning in their graves.

Alright, that’s all for us. We’ll catch you Monday — talking points for the weekend: Is "Everything is Illuminated" really going to be a good movie? Or just an annoying one? (We say: somewhere in between.) And, in this glorious summer of the cleansing of Miramax’s bowels, what’s the worst film that’s been/will be tossed from the Weinstein shelves into a few scattered theaters? (We say: it’s coming, and it’s "Daltry Calhoun.")

+ Now playing: Village East Cinema (Moviefone)
+ Venice Dispatch. 11. (Greencine Daily)
+ Pimping the Ride (LA Weekly)

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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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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.”

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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-Craft

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?”

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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).

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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.

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