DID YOU READ

The week’s critic wrangle: “Battle In Heaven,” “Night Watch.”

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We’ve got a wicked, wicked headache, sorry if this is less than, you know, in English.

Marcos Hernández as Marcos.
+ "Battle In Heaven"
: The general thought seems to be that director Carlos Reygadas is tremendously gifted, but that his already infamous second film doesn’t come together.

That’s not a blowjob joke.

Several critics acknowledge that, for all this film is being heatedly discussed, no one in the non-film-geek world will ever care. Andrew O’Hehir at Salon:

Reygadas is already a famous figure within the tiny, insular world of international art film, which means both that a fair number of smart if unbelievably pretentious people are drawn to his work and that hardly any regular moviegoers have the faintest idea who he is. This creates currents of mini-hype and mini-backlash that are difficult to avoid, although I have tried. Considering his work independent of that context is especially hard, because almost nobody outside that context will see it (unless it gets sold in porn outlets by accident).

Scott Foundas at LA Weekly:

[W]hereas Reygadas’ first film [2002’s "Japón"] felt like the unadulterated expression of a raw and original artistic voice, his second bears all the markings of a movie made for a constituency, as if Reygadas had spent much of the time in between projects standing outside of himself, pondering, "What would Carlos Reygadas do for an encore?" Well, how about making a glib assault on Mexican national identity that is unrelentingly in-your-face in all the ways that "Japón" was enigmatic and subtle, and which is quite a few other things that "Japón" never was — namely cynical, contemptuous (of its characters and its audience) and opportunistic.

Manohla Dargis at the New York Times echoes Foundas’ sentiments: "There is a searching quality to his camerawork, but too often he seems to be searching for a meaning (not the meaning), almost as if he needed to justify his artistry." Jeff Reichert at Reverse Shot compares Reygadas to Alejandro Jodorowsky: "Both are plagued by fantastically grand visions (track down ‘El Topo,’ if you dare), a surfeit of imagination and ideas, and only nominal control over their own powers." Michael Atkinson at the Village Voice swoons over the film: "’Battle in Heaven,’ as ambitious as its title, is a living mystery, already notorious for hardcore-osity but so serious about its formal intelligence and so deep-dish in its evocations of inexpressible desolation, personal and social, that it occupies your skull like a siege of Huns."

Here at IFC News, Matt Singer hates it.

 

Step out of the Gloom.
+ "Night Watch"
: J. Hoberman point out that Timur Bekmambetov Russian modern fantasy is a film in which"no longer extant Evil Empire reimagines itself" — he seems rather charmed by its post-Soviet gloom: "In its way, ‘Night Watch’ is the sci-fi spawn of ‘The Master and Margarita,’ the great underground novel of the 1930s era in which Satan and his familiars tour Stalin’s Moscow." David Edelstein at New York spends much of his article trying to describe the overly complicated plot, but ultimately finds the ending "a huge letdown…But for a good hour and change, the film is a big toy box that teases you out of the Gloom." Stephen Holden does the same (it’s, uh, a hell of a plot) — he concludes that "The film may be a mess — narratively muddled and crammed with many more vampires, shape-shifters and sorcerers than one movie can handle, but it bursts with a sick, carnivorous glee in its own fiendish games."

And our own rather hurried review is here.

Okay, we’re going to go home and lie on the couch with a cold compress. Once we figure out what that is. Back Tuesday.

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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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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.

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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.

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Forget Public Wifi

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

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Inter-not

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.

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Self Defense

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

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