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DID YOU READ

The unavoidable religion in film post.

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Kais NashefYes. Films. Religion. Together at last. Brave new world, such people in’t, et cetera, et cetera. It’s been a reoccurring entertainment news story even before the world flocked to see JesusSnuff, and we’ve generally avoided the topic just because no one seems to say anything new (and we’re hard pressed to believe that it’s such a continual revelation that there are religious people out there who are also interested in watching movies), but there’s been some interesting stuff of late, particularly with "Ushpizin" opening last week and "Paradise Now" opening tomorrow.

Andrew O’Hehir notices as much in Salon, where he talks to "Ushpizin"’s Israeli director Giddi Dar about the fact that his film, the "first feature film made within the closed world of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Hasidic community," is going to playing in the same New York theater as "Paradise Now." "It’s like something from above," Dar says. O’Hehir admires the two films, both of which are notable for shooting in extremely difficult conditions.

Ella Taylor at LA Weekly and Sharon Waxman at the New York Times also talk to Dar about his film, which is actually a light-hearted, farcical comedy.

Damon Smith at the Boston Globe surveys "Paradise Now" and the ”The War Within," and talks to directors Hany Abu-Assad and Joseph Castelo about why they chose to make films about suicide bombers, and how they’re responding to the inevitable controversy surrounded them.

Abu-Assad, born in Nazareth and now living in Holland, says he was intrigued by stories he’d heard about various bombers, details that weren’t widely reported in the media — ”it’s amazing how shocking reality is, more so than film" — and began scripting Said’s character with his co-writer and producer, Bero Beyer, based on his research. But he curtly dismisses the suggestion that ”Paradise Now," in connecting the would-be bombers’ profound sense of despair to living under the shadow of Israeli force, inadvertently makes him an apologist for terror tactics. ”Was Francis Ford Coppola, when he made ‘The Godfather,’ an apologist for crime? Nonsense."

Anthony Kaufman, in an older piece in indieWIRE, looks at the economics behind and bitter invective facing Warner Independent’s release of the film:

Warner Independent has received messages like "Muslim = Death" and angry missives like this one: "Why do you glorify the sick Arab homicide bombers who kill innocent civilians? . . . Maybe you should have named your movie ‘The Barbarians.’"

We totally swooned over "Paradise Now" at the New York Film Festival and we maintain our state of swoonage — it’s a fierce piece of filmmaking.

Kevin Maher at the London Times reports on Ismaël Ferroukhi‘s less hot-button but no less interesting "Le Grand Voyage," about a sparring father and son taking a lengthy a road trip to Mecca.

Alan Cooperman at the Washington Post looks over Sony Pictures plan to bypass theaters entirely and release "Left Behind: World at War" (so that’s where you got to, Lou Gossett Jr.!) exclusively in churches.

And Catherine Gander in the Guardian examines the challenges facing (and we’re trying so hard to envision this pitch meeting) 20th Century Fox’s planned adaptation of "Paradise Lost." But who’s the perfect Miltonian Satan? For some reason we keep picturing Stuart Townsend. Anyone got a better suggestion?

+ Beyond the Multiplex (Salon)
+ Holistic Healer (LA Weekly)
+ How an Outsider Told a Hasidic Story From the Inside (NY Times)
+ Sympathy for the devil? (Boston Globe)
+ The Palestinian Invasion: Will "Paradise Now" Be the Biggest Arabic-Language Film Ever? (indieWIRE)

+ To haj and haj not on the road to Mecca (London Times)
+ Coming Soon to a Church Near You (Washington Post)
+ Lost in translation (Guardian)

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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.