DID YOU READ

Semi-daily.

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"I'll see you at the parent-teacher conference."
We’ve been out of commission this week (er, "The Henry Rollins Show" and "Samurai 7," premiering tomorrow) but we thought we’d take a sec to babble about a few of this week’s releases.

Oh, hell, we just want to talk about "Brick," because we’re totally infatuated. At first blush, it’s easy to write off Rian Johnson‘s debut as gimmicky — it is. They’re high school kids, but they spout dialogue out of the hokiest 40s film noir. Locker numbers replace phone numbers, a minivan (with a lamp inside) stands in for a limo, the administration (naturally) becomes the law. The details are cute, but alone, they’d barely be enough to base a short on. What’s remarkable about "Brick," and what makes it so hugely enjoyable, is that in creating the film’s weird world, Johnson has managed to free it from the chokehold of irony.

True noir is near impossible these days — all of the visual signifiers that define it are so loaded that they’re near useless. You can’t have a femme fatale slink in on narrow heels, sucking on a cigarette anymore, because all that carries across is that she must have caught a late airing of "The Glass Key" the night before. Neo noir comes armed with the inevitable wink and nudge — in next week’s awful "Lucky Number Slevin," characters name-check films in lieu of character development (Lucy Liu stops just short of making herself a Nora Charles baby tee, but Josh Hartnett takes to a James Bond comparison a little too easily for an apparently dopey guy — ooh, spoiler alert). "Brick" is nothing neo at all — it’s a straight-faced throwback to the kind of convoluted storyline that had Howard Hawks wiring Raymond Chandler to figure out who killed Owen Taylor, only to be told that he didn’t know either. Because, after all, it’s the process of looking, and events unfolding, that was always more interesting than the wrap-up. The baby-faces of "Brick"’s plucked-from-TV cast (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, slowly freeing himself from "Third Rock from the Sun," Emilie de Ravin of "Lost," "Everwood"‘s Nora Zehetner) turn out to be well-suited to Johnson’s muttered machinations and heated declarations, because, well, when else in your life besides high school can you howl, with all angst and seriousness, "I couldn’t hack a life with you!"

There’s a gleeful enjoyment to these scenes, to the ones where Gordon-Levitt’s loner Brendan smart-asses the school’s jock aristocracy, or takes a beating just because he can’t bring himself to back down, or when Meagan Good vamps it up impossibly more in each scene until she delivering acid-tipped lines in full kabuki make-up, but what really works about "Brick" is its big, bleeding romantic heart. Even the bleakest noir, at its core, was filled with some kind of weary hope for the best, paired inevitably with the certainty that the world always disappoints.

And while we’re here —Jeff Feuerzeig‘s "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" is also very good  — a portrait of the artist as a manic-depressive novelty. We’re not so convinced of Johnson’s genius as a musician or an artist, and there are occasions where the regard of his "outsider" status comes across as a bit ghoulish (something he seems aware of  — he would stop taking his medication several days before playing a show), but the kaleidoscope of browned-around-the-edges footage from Johnson’s youth and onwards is amazing, as are the interviews with his loving, long-suffering parents.

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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.