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DID YOU READ

T-t-toronto.

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Having a tough time of it.You know what’s cooler than Cannes? Toronto. Totally. As TIFF kicks off today, that’s what everyone’s saying:

Roger Ebert:

Is the Toronto Film Festival the most important in the world, or does it only seem that way? In recent years I’ve described it as second only to Cannes. Now the Toronto critic Liam Lacey says flatly: "Toronto now has the most important film festival in the world — the largest, the most influential, the most inclusive." Yes, you say, but he is a Canadian, so of course he thinks that. Lacey is ready for you: "One reason the Toronto festival has probably not received its full recognition is, frankly, because it takes place in Canada."

Frankly, only a Canadian would think that. Toronto is all he says it is, and that’s that.

Mark Caro at the Chicago Tribune:

Toronto’s fest used to share the end-of-summer spotlight with the Venice and Montreal festivals, but Venice dramatically cut back its slate this year and the redubbed New Montreal Film Festival is attempting to reinvent itself with a pared-down schedule. That leaves Toronto with more world premieres than ever as it cements its status as North America’s most important film festival — and moves in on the uneven Cannes for the world title.

Industry types talking to Nicole Spering at the Hollywood Reporter:

"The product definitely looks a lot stronger then Cannes," said Howard Cohen of Roadside Attractions, whose company has been mandated with releasing six acquisitions a year. "There are many more English-language movies with casts."

Well, we have issues with that last comment, but whatever. Toronto is offering a load of stars and an intimidating amount of intriguing movies, so many, in fact, that we’re tempted to just ignore the whole damn thing like we did last year. But no! We’re jumping right in.

The Toronto Star‘s staff offers an invaluable blurby guide to the films by title: A-D, E-M, M-So and Sou-Z. Also at the Star, Rita Zekas runs down some of the stars scheduled to make appearances and the parties they’ll likely be appearing at:

Orlando Bloom generated the biggest heat last year. This year, our money is on Johnny Depp.

I asked a friend whom he was jonesing to see.

"Liza Minnelli," he replied.

"How gay are you?," I asked.

And Martin Knelman looks at the high stakes involved in premiering your film at the massive festival, and touches on some mild intrigue: of the two major Canadian films making their North American debut at the festival (and getting released later this month), Atom Egoyan‘s "Where the Truth Lies" is getting battered by David Cronenberg‘s "A History of Violence." It’s impossible not to compare the two films: Egoyan and Cronenberg are two of Canada’s most prominent directors and former rivals, neither has had a success in a while, both are tackling edgy topics and both premiered their films at Cannes. One wonders if the Egoyan film would be getting such a tough time, critically (it’s gotten mixed reviews) if the Cronenberg wasn’t getting raves. To make things tougher for "Where the Truth Lies," the AP reports that the MPAA has upheld the NC-17 rating it gave the film a month ago.

For tons of additional coverage, we’re liking the always excellent Twitch for reviews and Variety for biz coverage (the festival section is free for all). There’s already a deal going: Ian Mohr and Brendan Kelly report that Scorsese’s four-hour PBS Bob Dylan doc "No Direction Home," which is making its television premiere at the end of this month, has gotten a small theatrical distribution deal with Emerging Pictures, who’ll release the film in 30 cities nationwide before it appears on-air.

But back to Ebert’s first Toronto dispatch — he points out that he’s already seen most of the big buzz movies at the fest:

What lies ahead for me? Last year at this time "Ray," "Kinsey," "Yes," "Palindromes," "The Sea Inside," "Undertow" and "Hotel Rwanda" were only rumors to me. I write on Wednesday night, and will see three or four new movies tomorrow, and be astonished by completely unexpected treasures. I permit myself to be delighted until I reflect that in the real world, titles like this do not open every weekend, or play everywhere, or get much support, and there are perfectly nice people who are going to see "Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo" under the impression that it is a movie.

The unnecessary poke at Rob Schneider aside (it’s like kicking a retarded puppy, as Charles Taylor once said of attempting to take on Ann Coulter), this is what we’re excited about ourselves — the surprise hits, the innovative sleepers, the unexpected charmers that come out of nowhere, and, of course, the provocative/offensive flamethrowers that give us stuff to blog about for weeks.

+ Toronto #1: Festival’s importance (RogerEbert.com)
+ 5 reasons why Toronto is the film fest that matters (Chicago Tribune)
+ Products look ‘strong’ at Toronto fest (HR)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews: A-D (Toronto Star)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews: E-M (Toronto Star)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews: mini-reviews: M-So (Toronto Star)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews Sou-Z (Toronto Star)
+ Distant stars (Toronto Star)
+ Festival time, get out the dice (Toronto Star)
+ Board Upholds NC-17 Rating for ‘Truth’ (AP)
+ Toronto Film Festival 2005 Archives (Twitch)
+ Toronto Film Festival Guide (Variety)
+ Dealin’ for Dylan (Variety)

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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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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.