DID YOU READ

Sweet Sixteen and Dying to be Kissed

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By Andrea Meyer

IFC News

Being a teenage girl ain’t easy. Sure, there are innocent pleasures of giggling with the girls over Tiger Beat — or some guy’s balls falling out of his shorts at the beach, but overnight breasts, sudden prettiness, sexual curiosity and uninvited attention make adolescent girlhood as confounding as it can be magical. While the John Hughes teen films of the 80s whitewashed sexuality in favor of fairytale kisses over a candlelit birthday cake, there are a lot of movies that dive right into the stickiness.

Watch “Lolita” licking her lolli, much to her stepdaddy’s despair. Poptart Juliette Lewis shamelessly flirting with a psychotic De Niro in “Cape Fear.” “Fat Girl”‘s impossibly beautiful Elena (Roxane Mesquida) doing “everything but” with the guy she snuck in through her bedroom window while her chubbier sister tries not to watch. Jodie Foster and her pack of “Foxes” competing to see who can suck the most faces (or was that me and my high school posse?) Carroll Baker’s child bride “Baby Doll” cozying up to 40-something Eli Wallach. “36 Fillette”‘s voluptuous, 14-year-old Lili prowling Biarritz for a man to take her virginity. Her New Zealand counterpart Janey slipping into her mom’s boyfriend’s bed in “Rain.” Gorgeous Vahina Giocante in “Lila Says” spewing obscenities too lewd to spill from her angelic lips. Aviva in “Palindromes” sleeping with boys and men, trying to get pregnant at 13. Baby-faced Chloë Sevigny in “Kids” learning that she is HIV-positive after having sex for the first time.

Sex is scary, but virginity is so over. Boys are immature and inexperienced, but men are old and hairy and off-limits. Male attention is crucial to fragile adolescent self-esteem, but don’t you wish they’d just leave you alone? Such is the plight of the pretty 13, 14, 15, 16-year-old who’s just sprouted boobs.

The latest film to masterfully portray the treacherous landscape of teenage girlhood is Australian director Cate Shortland’s debut, “Somersault” (winner of 13 Australian Film awards, including Best Film, Actress and Director), a movie about a girl just starting to learn what pretty can get her. Heidi, a sixteen-year-old who could be Nicole Kidman’s little sister, is pretty by anyone’s definition, with bold guilelessness and wonder that make her even more attractive. As played by newcomer Abbie Cornish, an Australian actress who is going to be a superstar, Heidi is delighted when her looks and charm bewitch men and women alike, but stung when she’s dismissed for the same qualities. Testing boundaries, she hits on her mother’s boyfriend and, when her mother catches them kissing, flees to a small ski town where she works at a gas station and sleeps with Joe, a local rich kid (Sam Worthington). Wracked with guilt and convinced her mother doesn’t love her anymore, Heidi believes that all she has to offer is her body. She throws herself at Joe and when they fight, at any other guy who will buy her a drink. But as much as we recoil at her self-destructive acts, we want to take her in our arms and cradle her, because what Heidi is really seeking is her mother’s love, and a stranger’s affection can’t quite cut it.

Heidi has entered the cinematic landscape of loveably precocious and pathetic jail bait confronting the world of sex and trying to make some sense of it, flirting, fighting, kissing and fucking — and hoping to make it to the other side, intact, alive and confident.

That said, here are my five all-time favorite underage movie hussies.

1. Linda (Phoebe Cates), “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”: Amy Heckerling’s groundbreaking 1982 cult hit showed in stark detail how humiliating adolescence could be. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Stacy, a girl who has sex a couple of times with little joy, only to end up pregnant. Even more endearing is Stacy’s best friend Linda, played by then-Seventeen model, now-Mrs. Kevin Kline Cates. Linda brags about her mysterious boyfriend and their mind-blowing sex and in one famous scene shows Stacy how to fellate a carrot. In another, Linda walks in on Stacy’s brother while he’s jerking off to fantasies of her. Her horror suggests that she might not be as sophisticated as she purports, which is the root of her appeal. Linda talks the talk, but she’s really just a sweet girl who dreams about big love and looks hot in a bikini.

2. Connie (Laura Dern), “Smooth Talk”: Laura Dern oozes sexuality (see: “Wild at Heart”), but her big, blue eyes also convey bewilderment and hurt, filling up in a way that suggests the world is harsher than she’d imagined (see: “Blue Velvet”). In this early film, Dern plays a girl who’s all long limbs twisting around themselves as she waits impatiently for life to begin. Connie is at that age where she leaves the house in one outfit and transforms it with loud jewelry, makeup and unzipping once she hooks up with her friends at the mall. She is both scared to death of boys and boy-crazy. But the film is based on the Joyce Carol Oates’ creepy story “Where Are you Going, Where Have You Been?”, so welcome Arnold Friend (Treat Williams), an older guy who sets his sights on Connie. What begins as playful flirtation turns sinister, with Connie fleeing at one point from his lurid words to hide under her parents’ steps and cry, “Mommy!” The whole film can be seen as a metaphor for sexuality as experienced by a restless nymphet, who is no longer a child but not quite a woman yet either.

3. Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), “Thirteen”: In Catherine Hardwicke’s furiously paced debut, sweet Tracy falls in with Evie (Nikki Reed), a “bad girl” who turns her world into the whirlwind she’s been waiting for all her life. They steal things, pierce their tongues, sneak out to take drugs and fool around with older guys. Drugged up and high on their own wildness, they are out of control. Wood’s performance is so real, it is painful to watch for anyone (like me) who was ever a wild child too cute for her own good and ready to tell childhood to fuck off and take an unrestrained leap toward a life without limits. Wood more or less reprises the role in the upcoming “Down in the Valley” (in theaters May 5), in which she plays Tobe, a character who could be Tracy three years later, a 16-year-old who has tried sex and likes it. She falls for an older cowboy (Ed Norton) and scratches and screams bloody murder when her dad tries to keep them apart.

4. Rizzo (Stockard Channing), “Grease”: Who really cares if Channing was 34 when she played Rydell High’s biggest slut? She was a total sexpot in her skintight dresses and satin Pink Ladies jacket. She had the acting chops to make us love the bitch who slammed sweet Sandy as being “lousy with virginity.” And she had the best voice in the cast, knocking “There are Worse Things I Could Do” — her ballad about the woes of being Rydell High’s biggest slut — out of the field.

5. Deedee (Christina Ricci), “The Opposite of Sex”: When she appeared in “The Ice Storm” at 17 as a gamine who kept crawling into bed with the neighborhood boys, it was clear that Ricci was born to play a seductress. In Don Roos’ hilariously dark directorial debut, she plays Deedee, a pregnant tramp with platinum blond hair, a potty mouth and no morals, who seduces her gay brother’s boyfriend and says things (in the film’s brilliantly acerbic narration) like: “I don’t have a heart of gold and I don’t grow one later.” She’s both precocious and juvenile, both the film’s bossy, manipulative villain and its funny-as-shit heroine. Deedee Truitt might be the best pubescent tramp ever to grace movie screens.

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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.