Today’s Cannes, plus: some Tom Hanks film.

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Not yet approved by Chinese censors.
"Code"…something? L, we know it begins with L!

Yes, so, as has been well-reported, Cannes critics are, for the most part, not fond of Mr. Howard‘s latest effort. Still, no one (and you can see most current reviews here at Rotten Tomatoes) seems to take as much pleasure in their pan as the New York Times A.O. Scott, who’s apparently been spending his "book leave" sharpening his long knives in anticipation of applying them to Dan Brown:

To their credit the director and his screenwriter, Akiva Goldsman (who collaborated with Mr. Howard on "Cinderella Man" and "A Beautiful Mind"), have streamlined Mr. Brown’s story and refrained from trying to capture his, um, prose style. "Almost inconceivably, the gun into which she was now staring was clutched in the pale hand of an enormous albino with long white hair." Such language — note the exquisite "almost" and the fastidious tucking of the "which" after the preposition — can live only on the page.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: Hee.

Scott may find the film too bland to be boycott-worthy, but at the Guardian‘s Culture Vulture blog, Charlotte Higgins calls for one on the basis of good taste:

Hitherto the reaction of people who should know better is a vague shrugging of the shoulders but this will no longer do. Affirmative action is required. The Da Vinci Code in both its forms, literary (literary!) and on screen, is brain-rotting rubbish. Where is our pride? Where is our dignity? Where, dammit, is our British pluck? Confiscate this book from family and friends. Boycott, nay picket, this film. And at all costs, banish it from your brain, which was built for better things. The time has come to man the barricades.

The more press stills we see, the more we’re convinced (this might also be lack of sleep) that Paul Bettany‘s albino monk Silas is rather attractive, in a murderous religious fanatic fashion. Surely that wasn’t the filmmakers’ intent? Or was it?

No, probably not.

Of other films:

Neither the Hollywood Reporter‘s Ray Bennett (who dubs it "Atmospheric but pedestrian") nor Variety‘s Derek Elley thinks much of Ken Loach‘s "The Wind That Shakes the Barley," thought Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere calls it "the first profoundly good film"of the festival (bearing in mind that it just started) and writes that "Loach’s left-wing social realist brush has never rendered anything this stirring or flat-out masterful."

Derek Kelly at Variety is lukewarm on Lou Ye‘s "Summer Palace" ("an occasionally involving but way over-stretched tapestry that plays like a French art movie in oriental dress"),  Kirk Honeycutt at the Hollywood Reporter is fond of the film, but thinks it’s "far too long."

Of omnibus film "Paris, Je T’Aime," Bennett writes that it’s a "charming collection of vignettes," and Lisa Nesselson at Variety calls it "uneven but quite pleasant," adding that "[i]nterstitial shots of Paris and coda in which certain characters cross paths don’t add much and veer dangerously close to saccharine. But project — four years in the making –avoided most pitfalls and turned out better than average." Much what you’d expect (how could it not be uneven?)…we’re curious as to what (if anything) prompted this recent spate of multi-director anthology films, which we thought had been kicked to the curb in the 60s when everyone realize they work far better in theory than in practice.


The best part of Cannes coverage (beyond when, a week in, everyone starts getting delirious and filing stories/saying things to journalists that in retrospect are unwise) are the odd, gossipy details, like Jeffrey Wells‘ observation on the infernal Cannes press passes system:

The next level below pink is blue, and the lowest-of-the-low are the yellow passes. Richard Schickel  is here doing a Cannes documentary and not a a Time critic, so he has a yellow pass. (I saw him waiting last night to see The DaVinci Code and I went over and said, "Hey, Dick…is this the pink-with-yellow-pastille line?" Schickel kind of half-scowled in his usual charming way and said, "Uhnn…no.")

Anthony Kaufman lists his "9+ Films to See at 59th Cannes."

LA Weekly‘s Scott Foundas is blogging again, and has lengthy "Code" musings.

At the Filmmaker blog, Matthew Ross has turned up a "Fast Food Nation" trailer. The film premieres tomorrow, and Janet Adamy and Richard Gibson at the Wall Street Journal report on the dozens of food trade groups prepping a media campaign against the film "to counter what one groups contends is the ‘indigestible propaganda’ [author Eric] Schlosser is spreading."

And Xan Brooks at the Guardian shares various Cannes details (including, for all who’ve been dying to know, why Tom Hanks likes Iceland) while outlining (despite the lack of Asian films at the festival in general) what he sees as increasing Chinese dominance at Cannes, and slipping in a good review of "Summer Palace."

The general consensus before last night’s screening was that a lot of the journalists would stay for the first hour and then slip away to catch the Arsenal-Barcelona cup final. But when the lights came up, two-and-a-half hours later, the auditorium was still packed to the rafters.

+ A ‘Da Vinci Code’ That Takes Longer to Watch Than Read (NY Times)
+ Code haters unite! (Guardian)
+ The Wind That Shakes the Barley (HR)
+ The Wind that Shakes the Barley (Variety)
+ The Wind that Shakes the Barley
(Hollywood Elsewhere)
+ Summer Palace (Variety)
+ Summer Palace (HR)
+ Paris, I Love You (Paris, Je t’Aime) (HR)
+ Paris je t’aime (Variety)
+ There seems to be a general downgrading of press passes this year (Hollywood Elsewhere)
+ 9+ Films to See at 59th Cannes (Anthony Kaufman’s Blog)
+ So Dark the Con of Hollywood (LA Weekly)
+ Flak Over ‘Fast Food Nation’ (Wall Street Journal)
+ Cultural revolution (Guardian)


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.