DID YOU READ

The week’s critic wrangle: We heart race relations!

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"Well, Pete, the ants are eating your friend."
+ "The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada": Praise always seems less impressive in the DV dullness of January and February than it does in the breathless celluloid splendor of December, and so, despite much critical love here for Tommy Lee Jones‘ directorial demi-debut, it already has an air of fading from the screens to it (perhaps because it lurks in the shadows of a certain other prominent cowboy film)

Those who are fondest: Manohla Dargis, Roger Ebert (feh), the Chicago Reader‘s Jonathan Rosenbaum and the LA Weekly‘s Scott Foundas (who muses that the film "may not be a love story per se, but for my money it’s the most deeply affecting portrait of cowboy camaraderie to be found on movie screens this season"). Dargis calls it "less an act of revisionism than one of reconsideration," and Rosenbaum also finds it refreshing in its tweaking of old Western tropes:

There’s the taken-for-granted dysfunctional social context, and there’s the visceral macho unpleasantness, which feels dishonest in movies such as Henri-Georges Clouzot‘s "The Wages of Fear" (1953) and Peckinpah‘s "The Wild Bunch" (1969) and "Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia" (1974). I have to admit I still like those three films a lot, and I suspect that what I appreciate most in this movie is the nuance Jones gives these and other shopworn notions.

Nearly everyone cites Peckinpah in general and "Alfredo Garcia" in particular as an influence on this film.  The New York PressMatt Zoller Seitz liked the film at first, then rewatched Peckinpah’s work, which leads him to declare that "After revisiting the originals, I find ‘Three Burials’ to be little more than a pretty good tribute." Anthony Lane at the New Yorker finds the film lost him in its second half, mainly due to the character Tommy Lee Jones plays: "The film’s plea for old-fashioned pride and racial tolerance is muffled by a plain, unanticipated fact: Pete Perkins is out of his mind." And Michael Atkinson at the Village Voice also has beef with Jones, calling the cinematic persona he’s cultivated over the years "our living neocon nightmare."

 

Flowery!+ "Something New": Most interesting thing about the surprisingly good reviews this modest interracial romance is garnering: that several critics find it a far better depiction of race issues in LA than the hysterics of "Crash." Manohla Dargis:

The filmmaker has a nice sense of some of the less cinematically exploited areas of Los Angeles, like the upscale black neighborhood where Kenya lives and power walks, and the Magic Johnson Starbucks where she first meets Brian on a squirmingly uncomfortable blind date that says more about racial anxiety than the entirety of "Crash."

Mark Holcomb of the Village Voice:

The plotting may be familiar and mundane, but that’s precisely what makes "Something New" work: Its thorny, mostly unresolved questions of identity and racial affiliation are couched in identifiable everyday concerns, like dealing with job and family stress and worrying that a suitable mate may never turn up. In the end, the film is a lucid, tender appeal for flexibility, and no amount of carjackings, LAPD shakedowns, or freeway conflagrations can rival the pleasure of seeing such a concept so engagingly explored.

Roger Ebert was also startled by the film’s nuances (it "respects its subject and characters, and is more complex about race than we could possibly expect."), though he, of course, does not leap on this prime opportunity to "Crash"-bash. Salon‘s Stephanie Zacharek is similarly charmed ("’Something New’ is the perfect date movie, not only because it explores a range of suitably romantic sentiments, but because it’s so canny sociologically, as well as being delightfully good-natured.") But Tim Grierson at LA Weekly parts from the crowd, finding the film unrealistic and unoriginal.

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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.