Hearts on fire.

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Valentine’s Day — a time to spend with your significant other, or, failing that, to spend sitting at a bar weeping into your drink. We’ve always held it to be a particularly special holiday, as our birthday is tomorrow, and we can sit tight anticipating that some shameless, cheapskate friend will inevitably unload a bunch of leftover, discounted candy on us. In the meantime, we thought we’d reflect on a hurried, scattered selection of some of our favorite painful romantic moments committed to celluloid:

"He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not": Laetitia Colombani‘s directorial debut rest on a film studentish gimmick, but as a counterpart to Jeunet’s charm-oversaturated "Amelie," it’s indispensable. Audrey Tautou once again plays an extra-winsome romance-seeking waif, but two-thirds of the way through, the film turns away from her point of view and she’s revealed as the loony stalker we always knew was hiding under that damn pixie cut. Extra points for the uncomfortable scene where she approaches the object of her affection at a party, but can’t bring herself to do more than gaze at him, wide-eyed and grinning.

"Head-On": Yes, we’re a trifle obsessed, but self-destructive romance in film is so often a function of characters being monstrous or just very fictional — Cahit and Sibel have lives that seem to be constantly spilling out of their grasp, but that also never seem less than genuine. And we love when they pogo around the apartment yelling "Punk! Is! Not! Dead!"

"Lawless Heart": We can’t think of a film as gently wise about the nature of mourning as this understated British gem about a family bobbing about in the wake of a loved one’s death. Of the three stories, it’s Nick’s (Tom Hollander) that’s the most compelling — with his lover, Stuart, gone, he’s left to deal uneasily with Stuart’s not-unsympathetic, but certainly incomprehending family. He stumbles into a friendship with warmhearted, heedless party girl Charlie (Sukie Smith), one complicated by his isolation and grief into something that, in one heartbreaking scene, he mistakes for romance.

"Manon des Sources": It’s been a while since we’ve watched Claude Berri‘s two-part epic of multigenerational vengeance out in the picturesque French countryside, but the image of Daniel Auteuil‘s Ugolin sewing Emmanuelle Béart‘s ribbon to his chest hasn’t faded. Ouch.

"Point Break": Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze tussle in the surf on Bells Beach. "Vaya con Dios." "Kiss! Kiss!" the audience yells. But…they never do.

"Shallow Grave": The trio of friends Danny Boyle trails to destruction in his first film are all horrible human beings, but the flirtation between Kerry Fox‘s Juliet and Ewan McGregor‘s Alex, which flutters between jealousy, jockeying for power, sadism and, possibly, real feeling, comes to a head in what, if you look at it the right way, you could call a  supremely memorable consummation. Romantic!

Elsewhere: Kim Adelman at the San Francisco Chronicle picks her ten favorite bedroom scenes, while Kevin Maher in the London Times writes about David Lean‘s 1945 "Brief Encounter" and argues that romantic films are always better when consummation occurs off-screen (or not at all):

Romantic movies all have the same dramatic motor: the overcoming of obstacles on the path to love. With speedy consummation of passion now more acceptable both in society and on screen, modern films have a problem: how can they keep their love-struck protagonists as far apart as possible?

And if you’ve ever wondered which films Film Threat‘s Chris Gore finds romantic, today is your day.

+ Mattress Dancing (SF Chronicle)
+ Darling, please. Not in front of the cameras (London Times)


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.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.