The many faces of controversy.

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"...a hurricane of pain..."We’re still making our way through the "United 93" reviews (which, despite their surprising sameness in sentiment, we still find more interesting than the film itself). David Segal at the Washington Post was at the Tribeca premiere, and writes about the surreality of the first 9/11 Hollywood blockbuster:

The theater was filled with relatives and friends of those who died that day, and at the end of the film, the section where they sat — in rows of seats in the balcony — dissolved into a collective wail of grief. Have you ever heard 100 people crying at the same time? Sounds simply don’t get any sadder.

And evenings don’t come much stranger. This was the opening night of the Tribeca Film Festival and that meant that alongside the deadly serious business of this horrific national tragedy was the utterly silly business of a hip movie premiere. These two elements, let the record reflect, don’t mix well. It was like a showdown of crass versus poignant. A squadron of public relations aides were in combat mode, chaperoning celebrities down a red carpet and introducing them to correspondents from shows such as "Entertainment Tonight." There were paparazzi on hand by the dozens, not all of them happy with the level of talent.

"All B-listers," said one, grimacing a little as he struggled for a better view of Tom Selleck, Carol Kane, Gabriel Byrne and Steve Buscemi. "They said Halle Berry was supposed to be here, but I think she bailed."

Ah, that makes us laugh through our tears…or are we weeping through our laughter? David Usborne at the Independent presents a more removed report on the premiere and on Paul Greengrass‘ involvement in the film. And over at the Chicago Tribune, Julia Keller attempts to canonize the film in essay form.

Thus it follows that the real measure of the force of "United 93" may
not be box office receipts or tallies of Oscar nominations — much as
the film’s makers would doubtless appreciate such compliments — but
rather how long it retains this status as an event, not a movie. As a
dampened finger in the cultural wind.

At the Toronto Star, Peter Howell commends the film’s refusal to go for an easy jab at the administration, and, after making fun of Roger Ebert‘s dubbing "American Dreamz" "daring" for it’s heavy-handed presidential depiction, finally wondering "Is there nobody in Hollywood who can make light of the U.S. president without resorting to spitballs and silly faces?"

In a piece from last week in the London Times, Garth Pearce talks to Tom Hanks about how the "Da Vinci Code" controversies will affect his standing as weeper king of the world, not realizing that Hanks completed his transmutation to plastic long ago, and now can be cleansed of any controversy simply by being run through a cold rinse in your typical household dishwasher.

In the New York Times, Elisabeth Bumiller writes about Deepa Mehta‘s "Water" and the violence it was met with while in initial production.

At the San Francisco Chronicle, Ruthe Stein checks in on Eric Steel’s Golden Gate Bridge suicide doc "The Bridge" (which is, full disclosure, an IFC Original), which had it’s premiere at Tribeca and which screened at the San Francisco International Film Festival on Sunday. Steel’s doc attracted controversy before it got out of production, with Bridge officials claiming Steel misled them with regards to his intentions behind filming on the famous landmark. Stein checks out crowd reactions.

Loie Hayward, a 59-year-old legal secretary from San Francisco in the audience, said she had mixed feelings about "The Bridge’s” depiction of people jumping to their deaths. "But I’m just about as much a voyeur as anyone else is.”

Paul Lewis in the Guardian presents the following list of the ten most controversial film ever made, lifted from Time Out‘s just-published "1,000 Films That Change Your Life" guide.

1. "Salò" (1975) Pier Paolo Pasolini
2. "Natural Born Killers" (1994) Oliver Stone
3. "Crash" (1996) David Cronenberg
4. "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988) Martin Scorsese
5. "The Devils" (1971) Ken Russell
6. "Pretty Baby" (1977) Louis Malle
7. "Birth of a Nation" (1915) DW Griffith
8. "Straw Dogs" (1971) Sam Peckinpah
9. "Monty Python’s Life of Brian" (1979) Terry Jones
10. "Bandit Queen" (1994) Shekhar Kapur

And at indieWIRE, a controversy far less salacious but just as heated: Eugene Hernandez reports on Monday night’s Tribeca panel discussion on changing distribution platforms with Steven Soderbergh, Ashwin Navin of BitTorrent, Todd Wagner of Landmark Theaters and Magnolia Pictures and the MPAA’s Dean Garfield.

+ A Red Carpet Tragedy (Washington Post)
+ Cinema tackles terror: Courage on a day of death (Independent)
+ ‘United 93’: More than a movie. It’s a choice. (Chicago Tribune)
+ Old slurs die hard (Toronto Star)
+ Welcome to the dark side (London Times)
+ Film Ignites the Wrath of Hindu Fundamentalists (NY Times)
+ Golden Gate Bridge suicide film draws crowd at festival (SF Chronicle)
+ Torture, necrophilia, and a very naughty boy: the films that shocked us (Guardian)
+ TRIBECA ’06: In a Time of Change for the Movie Business, Talking About Emerging Distribution Platforms (indieWIRE)


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.