DID YOU READ

Cannes: Over the hump.

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Disaster!
We’ve just past the midpoint of the 59th Cannes Film Festival, and it’s either so good there are no clear Competition frontrunners…or so inconsistent there are no clear Competition frontrunners, or maybe just so unexceptional. Kirk Honeycutt and Ray Bennett at Hollywood Reporter:

The 59th edition of the Festival de Cannes is shaping up as the best Competition since the much-celebrated 2002 vintage. ("The Pianist" won, you’ll recall.) Which does not mean that one can easily spot the winners. There are some obvious front-runners though, as well as some obvious disappointments. And certainly this jury, weighed so heavily with actors, has any number of superb performances to judge.

Todd McCarthy at Variety:

In the first five days of the Cannes Film Festival — as choppy as the rough seas currently besetting the Mediterranean — there have been two or three fairly strong films thus far in the competition. But few people can agree on which films those are.

To be sure, no one’s been caught running around whispering "Palme d’Or" about any of the entries.

Those who’ve traveled from distant points and will spend up to 12 days watching films here hope, as always, that at least one or two brilliant titles will reward the investment. If they exist this year, they have yet to be seen.

Richard Corliss at Time:

"Adequate" sums up the Festival’s offerings so far. No films yet have reaped unanimous critical acclaim. A few name directors are thought to have been coasting (Pedro Almodóvar‘s "Volver") or tailspinning (Richard Linklater‘s "Fast Food Nation") with their latest works. Some directors of promise, like the Turk auteur Nuri Bilge Ceylan with his Climates, have brought works earning mild applause. We see and we shrug.

David Hudson at Greencine Daily‘s been doing such an awe-inspiringly thorough job of rounding up Cannes coverage that we feel unmotivated to do much more than sit back and take it all in ourselves. Nevertheless, a few thoughts:

"Southland Tales": Richard Kelly‘s undeniably ambitious "Donnie Darko" follow-up seemed doomed merely from the great weight of expectations. Still, we’re heard/read things ranging from "potential career-killer" and "profoundly incoherent" to "a sprawling, periodically dazzling, often funny pop-and-politics mash-up" and "a visionary film about the end of times" from heavies Manohla Dargis and J. Hoberman, respectively. We’re rather dying to see it now, train-wreck or not, though the film has no distributor yet, and, as Hoberman points out, "[a]t two hours and 40 minutes…[it] flirts with the ineffable and also the unreleasable."

"The Host": The most generous acclaim coming out of the festival seems to be for, of all things, this Directors’ Fortnight Korean horror film. "[T]he best film I’ve seen to date at this year’s festival," says Dargis, while Mike D’Angelo concludes "I can only hope to see a Competition entry this impressive," while also pointing out that "it’s a fair question whether Hollywood will come calling, because no major studio would ever countenance popcorn fare this determinedly bleak and despairing — ‘The Host’ makes comparatively grown-up summer flicks like ‘War of the Worlds’ and ‘Batman Begins’ look downright sunny by comparison."

Hazy generalizations: "Babel" response is mixed-to-good; "Shortbus" is also mixed-to-good, if never that enthused; "Red Road" also mixed-to-good, but not good enough, we’d guess, to secure a US distributor; "Fast Food Nation" is mixed-to-bad; "Paris, Je T’aime" is generally good (good enough to spawn a New York version?); "Volver" good-ish, with the caveat that no one seems predisposed to be fonder of Almodóvar than Cannes audiences/critics.

+ Critic’s notebook: Cannes midpoint finds Competition worthy (HR)
+ No consensus on Croisette (Variety)
+ Postcards from Cannes (Time)

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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.