The agony of the fall preview.

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Hot like fire.It’s fall preview season — and where to even begin summing up the flood of special sections centered around the same damn list of films? Well, probably with The Reeler, whose "Fall Movie Preview Review" is a far, far wittier thing than anything bouncing around in our caffeine-addled head at the moment. The Reeler‘s S.T. VanAirsdale runs through all of the New York-based round-ups, citing high points, low points, "Egregious Hype" and an estimate of the actual worth of bothering to read any of these preview packages. The always-wise David Hudson at Greencine Daily adds his thoughts on the New York Times‘ section.

Said section, crowned "The New Season" by the paper of record, is definitely the best of the bunch, solely on the basis of Manohla Dargis and A. O. Scott‘s dueling, ambitious thematic overviews (Stephen Holden, covering Woody Allen’s "Match Point," gets banished to the bottom of the page, which only enforces for us that, despite all the Cannes hype, no one cares that much about the film — we’ve just been hurt waiting for a recent quality Allen film too many times before.).

Ms. Dargis approaches the season by way of "A History of Violence," "Dear Wendy," "Where the Truth Lies," "Manderlay" and "Don’t Come Knocking" — films she sees as "holding up fun-house mirrors to America" (particularly to our fascination and fetishization of violence), as well as signs that we’ve finally passed beyond the moratorium on film’s criticizing the US following 9/11:

In these films, the focus isn’t on quiet and ugly Americans doing their lethally secret business abroad. Instead, these are films about ordinary Americans – fathers and mothers, sons and daughters – whose hands are dirty and sometimes covered in blood. Ordinary, smiling, guilty Americans.

A very worthy read, and one that adds to the growing hype surrounding "A History of Violence," which the Village Voice, in the wee fall preview we didn’t both linking to before (but will now: Michael Atkinson does his film round-up, the staff weighs in on the top ten fall movie-going highlights), breathlessly called "a brilliantly directed psychological thriller/neo-western that more than fulfills the philosophical and political dimensions of its title—and confirms its maker as the greatest director working in the English language today."

Scott tackles American film, something in general he finds is failing to engage with, as he puts it, "the realities of American life." He sees the awards season as a parade of safe, distancing biopics and period pieces, as well as (yes!) the ubiquitous navel-gazing Sundance "dysfunctional suburban teenage drama-satire":

Again, the point is not to indict particular movies…but to wonder why the themes they explore are so dominant. Uncomprehending parents, awakening sexuality, the stultifications of school and the inchoate longing for freedom – these problems are sufficiently ubiquitous as to make your local art house look like the young-adult section of your local bookstore. Except that the teenage-angst movies frequently come with R ratings and marketing campaigns aimed more at graduate students than at high school kids.

We are frequently needlessly snide about films of this ilk, regardless of their quality, and we apologize, but it’s because of similar sentiments to Mr. Scott here. God, for a young up-and-comer with ridiculous, impossibly broad ambitions! Screw "write what you know," Sundance Lab rats, no one cares about your thinly disguised adolescence — try harder, for chrissakes.

Anyway, lots of other good stuff in the that section. Also worth a look is the LA Times"Fall Movie Sneaks," which includes a massive amount of interviews with various stars and directors of scattered upcoming titles, along with Kevin Thomas rounding up highlights of LA-area foreign film screenings: "As has been increasingly the case over recent decades, many of the season’s new foreign films will be available only as one-time screenings as part of special series presentations at institutional venues."

Stephen Hunter in the Washington Post sees this upcoming fall as particularly literary adaptation-heavy, and advises us, film by film, as to whether or not we should bother reading the source book before heading to the theater.

Wesley Morris and Ty Burr at the Boston Globe disagree with A. O. Scott on the relevance issue — they see this as a particularly issue-heavy fall:

What’s exciting is that many of these movies are set in the present or recent past. They’re not allegories or full-on satires, which might leave us desperate for a film with a sense of farce — ”The Producers," say. But some have the potential to resonate with our current social and political climate. Of course, if that’s not to your liking, we’d like to guide you straight to ”Saw II."

For those of you as exhausted as we are by the above endeavor, we direct you to Heather Havrilesky‘s fall TV round-up at Salon, which is funny, smart, and blessedly not about film (plus it comes with a handy chart, and we ♥ those!).

+ The Reeler’s Fall Movie Preview Review (The Reeler)
+ NYT. Fall preview. (Greencine Daily)
+ The New Season: Movies (NY Times)
+ Fall Movie Sneaks (LA Times)
+ Hollywood Follows the Reader
(Washington Post)
+ Tough Stuff (Boston Globe)
+ White-knuckle TV (Salon)
+ Fear factored (Salon)



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.