“Stoned”: Sex and drugs, a little light on the rock ‘n’ roll

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The musician biopic has come into its own, or at least a kind of middlebrow prestige, with “Ray” and “Walk the Line” scoring award nominations by molding their respective subjects’ lives into a standard narrative arc of troubled childhood/rise to success/drug abuse/redemption, with a hearty dash of half-assed psychoanalysis thrown mixed in. Early Rolling Stones member Brian Jones isn’t so convenient a focus — after being kicked out of the band in his mid-20s, he lolled around Sussex, drinking, dallying with a succession of girlfriends and playing at remodeling his house, before turning up dead in the pool at the rock star-approved age of 27, his life less an arc than a mild incline. But Stephen Woolley’s rambling “Stoned” is less concerned with Jones’ life than with the mystery surrounding his death, which the film, with admirable effrontery, purports to solve.

For the bulk of “Stoned,” Jones, played by Leo Gregory as if he were always remembering something funny but trying to keep a straight face, is already ensconced in his countryside home with his Swedish girlfriend and nothing much to do. The Stones’ road manager Tom (David Morrissey), sends his friend Frank Thorogood over as much to babysit and entertain Jones as to work on the house. As played by Paddy Considine, Thorogood is the embodiment of the Britain’s bewildered older generation, both drawn to and disapproving of Jones’ super-60s decadence, which we see more of in flashbacks to Jones’ troubled relationship with Anita Pallenberg (Monet Mazur) — cocaine, wild sex, drinking, clubbing, S&M and, most shocking of all, dropping acid to the tune of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit,” a combination so gratingly obvious it we could almost hear the theater’s eyes roll in unison.

Jones and Thorogood start up a kind of sadistic, codependent friendship in which Jones both depends on Thorogood for company and plays extensive, cruel mind games with him. For his part, Thorogood does a lousy job as a builder, but latches desperately onto the escape from grim London life Jones provides. Because Thorogood is played by the awkward, pasty, compelling Considine, who can be brilliant at personifying pent-up, working-class rage, he’s naturally more sympathetic than Jones, who’s portrayed as both self-pitying and malicious, and who the film never tries too hard to convince us is that great of a musician anyway. Jones toys with both his Swedish actress girlfriend Anna and with Frank, who end up competing for his mercurial affections (and the cash flow that comes with them).

When Jones finally tries to cut ties with Thorogood, and an infuriated Thorogood drowns him in the pool, the effect is less tragic than relieving — finally! Maybe the fault is Gregory’s, for not getting under the skin of the character enough to make him more than a smirking cipher, but I’m inclined to think it’s more Woolley’s — the director spells out his intentions in a closing scene in which manager Tom imagines a conversation with Jones’ ghost, who watches mourners come to the side of the pool in which he died, and who thanks Tom for making him a martyr, rather than just a failed musician. So, screw the “Behind the Music” biopic formula — is that what it’s all about? Staying young, wild and talented, while the 60s faded and passed? Because from here, it’s looking more like a story of the death of arrogant, self-absorbed prat who the world has already half-forgotten.

“Stoned” opens in New York and LA on March 24 (official site).


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.