“13 (Tzameti).”

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"Bravo, Number 13, bravo."
The centerpiece of "13 (Tzameti)" is an epic and organized game of Russian roulette. It’d be ideal to go into the film not knowing this fact; it’s also impossible to discuss the film without mentioning it. Fortunately, distributor Palm Pictures’ marketing materials have rendered moot any dilemmas we may have had about preserving a sense of mystery.

Géla Babluani, Georgian-born, French-educated, 26 when he directed the film (his feature debut) has made what sounds on paper like a brash, misanthropic boy movie. It’s miraculously not, not really — its nihilism is strikingly naive and straightforward; it’s sometimes grimly funny, but never smirkingly so. Babluani has managed to make a 60s art-house film, and while we’re more admiring than enraptured by the results, "13 (Tzameti)" is still as refreshing as a cool six-pack on a warm summer morning (well, how the hell do you start your day?).

Part of the film’s retro appeal comes from its being shot in exquisite black-and-white CinemaScope — all the better to captured the fine lines of star George Babluani‘s (the director’s brother) face. He plays Sébastien, a Georgian immigrant working as a roofer in France and living with his family in the kind of impassive misery that only Eastern Europeans on film seems able to pull off. Working on a crumbling estate, he overhears the frazzled, drug-addicted owner’s enigmatic plans to make what’s apparently a great deal of money, and when the man dies of an overdose he sets off in his place, following instructions he intercepted in the mail. On his journey he unknowingly evades the police surveillance set up outside of the house — one of several moments in which we’re forced to consider the random events that shape one’s fate. Sébastien ends up in the gloomy basement of a bustling house in the woods in which men from around the world have gathered to gamble on the ultimate high-stakes sport.

What saves the film from the novelty of its concept is that it is never not grounded in realistic details. The game is fantastical; the approach to it is not, from the type of men who make up the players — drug-addicted, frantic, demented, dying — to the obsessive implimentation of the rules. The betting audience treats the players as some mixture of prizefighter and race horse, ridiculous in light of the fact that the game is entirely based on luck, for all of the strategy and superstition that’s assigned to it.

George Babluani holds the film together as Sébastien, a character who’s desperate and foolish enough to get into the mess he does, but not desperate enough to belong there. He’s not heroic, but he’s smart enough to realize he has to play, and he wants to stay alive. In one scene in particular, he, a trembling wreck, faces another man (the superb Aurélien Recoing of Laurent Cantet’s "Time Out") who was violent to him before, but in that moment before they find out who will die can only express a kind of tender misery — it’s inscrutably powerful and moving, and it’s too bad that by the film’s bleakly ironic ending all it seems to offer is an arresting picture of the blackest depths of human abasement. 

+ "13 (Tzameti)" (Palm Pictures)


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.