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DID YOU READ

The week’s critic wrangle: “Where the Truth Lies,” the “Elizabethtown” massacre of mediocity.

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Alison Lohman and Kevin Bacon.+ "Where the Truth Lies":  Noted by at least two critics in their reviews of Atom Egoyan‘s latest (which, as you may recall. is being released unrated here in the US after being deemed too thrusty for an R): Vince Collins (Colin Firth) and Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) are stand-ins for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; Alison Lohman‘s none-so-great as the journalist looking into the former comedic duo’s past; the film has a running "Alice in Wonderland" motif; and, most importantly, Rupert Holmes, who wrote the novel on which the film is based, also wrote the 1979 single "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)," considered by some a worthy candidate for worst song ever written.

Otherwise, most everyone is unified in varying degrees of disappointment in "Where the Truth Lies," which opens today in New York and L.A. Manohla Dargis finds it a not-that-fun journey into the sordid side of celebrity that "almost works, at least in part," in shaking up the genre of the murder mystery, but that’s undone by it’s script. Ben Kenigsberg at the LA Weekly thinks it’s a conventional film buried under layers of narrative, while Matt Zoller Seitz is frustrated by the film’s being more self-aware than is bearable, even for Egoyan, declaring it a "fitfully brilliant but mostly frustrating drama populated by characters so self-analytical that they might as well be followed around by tiny, animated footnotes." J. Hoberman ascribes the problems to Egoyan’s going increasingly mainstream: "in this relatively big-budget production, the director’s main anxiety seems to be wrapping up the mystery and selling the project." And James Crawford, taking the lead over at the week’s indieWIRE triple review, gets the last word in: "Censor-baiting sex scenes aside, now that he’s indecently begging for a place at the studio table, I wish he’d stop making movies for a while."

 

Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom.+ "Elizabethtown": We feel like we were promised some rippingly bad reviews of Cameron Crowe‘s latest, a très "Garden State" making-a-trip-to- see-to-dead-parent-with-hip- soundtrack-and-inexplicable-love- interest bit starring Orlando Bloom as a failed shoe designer (!), but all we’ve found among our critics of choice are, once again, varying degrees of disappointment, tempered with some "it could have been much worse." Mostly, it’s just a mess, or, as A.O. Scott extended metaphors it, a burgoo: "a strange, messy stew of a movie, with some tasty garden gleanings, a few chunks of gristle and too many leftovers thrown in the pot for it to be entirely digestible." To sum up the general sentiments here: Bloom fades into the background, the family isn’t developed enough and is too weird, things is general are too weird (as Stephanie Zacharek puts it, "so much of ‘Elizabethtown’ just leaves you asking, Why?"), but that Kirsten Dunst is great (Laura Sinagra points out that "Like Woody Allen, Crowe repeatedly scripts the perfect girlfriend (without, thank god, injecting himself into the fantasy)," truly the stuff grad school theses could be written on).

Crowe loves his music, and the film closes with a fifteen-minutes trek set to a mix tape made for Bloom’s character by Dunst’s that seems have exhausted everyone’s tolerance for sincerity. David Edelstein: "You’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘Turn off the boombox, Lloyd: You’ve
got us already. Lloyd, turn it off. Lloyd, for God’s sake, this is
embarrassing. Lloyd!!!’" A.O. Scott: "There is something both desperate and lazy about Mr. Crowe’s assumption
that sublime sentiments can be conjured up with a click of the iPod."

Roger Ebert, who likes the new cut better than the 18-minute-longer version that was so poorly received at Toronto, slips in an interesting tidbit about the ending:

In the first cut of the film, there was a great deal more of the journey, followed by a pointless epilogue in which the Spasmodica shoe turns out to be a hit after all, because with every step you take, it whistles. (Since much of the journey and all of the epilogue have been cut from the movie, this is not a spoiler unless the ban on spoilers has been extended to include deleted scenes on the DVD.)

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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.