DID YOU READ

Total retrograde amnesia in an irony-sensitive world.

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Doug Bruce plays himself.
We haven’t seen Rupert Murray‘s "Unknown White Male," a doc about his friend, Doug Bruce, a 30-something British former stockbroker who, the film details, woke up on the F train near Coney Island with no memory of who he was, but honestly, we can’t imagine the film is more interesting than the odd controversy it’s generated. Mockumentary or not? The filmmakers have cited "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" when describing "Unknown White Male," and Michel Gondry has responded by telling GQ last week that he thinks the film’s a fake.

Well, yes, you say, but since when is Gondry, wicked cool music videos aside, a medical expert?

In his reports on the scandal so far, Dan Glaister in the Guardian lists, among other things, the fact that HBO "cooled on its interest in screening the film after its initial research deemed the film to be ‘less than credible.’" Roger Ebert is inspired to carry out his own investigation, first scouring Lexis-Nexis and failing to find any reports on the original incident, then taking his questions straight to director Murray and his executive producer, Jess Search, who make a convincing argument, and would have to either be extremely committed to their hoax and fascinating ruthless to say some of the things they do:

"I would never compromise my reputation by being party to a hoax," says Jess Search. "I worked five years as commissioning editor at Channel 4 in the UK. I set up the British Documentary Film Foundation. I am the organizer of the new British documentary festival. I am 100 percent behind this film." Murray adds: "The hoax issue clouds people’s judgment. The film is so fascinating as a story of memory and identity that it would be a shame if it were discounted. The publicity may be great for the film, but it’s not so great for Doug, after what he’s been through."

But oddest of all is the visit the New Yorker‘s Tad Friend pays on Bruce — Bruce, who hasn’t regained his memory back yet, and who approaches life with wide-eyed, verging-on-twee fascination:

"Since the accident, I feel a childlike—or what I imagine to be a childlike—wonder at new experiences, but also an analytical understanding," he said. "When I first held snow, it was about both the feeling of the crystals in my hand and my understanding of the molecular structure." He laughed, and toyed with the silver butterfly-wing charm around his neck, a gift from his girlfriend of nearly two years, Narelle. "And I feel very privileged to have experienced, as an adult, falling in love for the first time, the way a teen-ager probably would."

Could he possibly be real? Are we just too cynical to buy it? To be honest, we could care less about whether the film’s a fake or not from an integrity perspective — though there’s something very off-putting about the idea of this being a publicity stunt or something vaguely in the realm of performance art — but we’re fascinated by the idea that someone would counterfeit a doc on this subject. If it is a mockumentary, it’s far less an attempt at humor than the most melancholy, cinema-informed wish fulfillment: in drifting near-middle-age, one could lightly slip off one’s mental trappings and set about literally rediscovering life.

+ NEW MAN (New Yorker)
+ ‘Mockumentary’ claim over feted film (Guardian)
+ Is this documentary a fake? (RogerEbert.com)
+ Is it a good doc or merely a mock? (RogerEbert.com)

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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.