DID YOU READ

The week’s critic wrangle: Meanwhile, back at the France.

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It’s Bastille Day! Of the three big-name French films opening today, we like "Time to Leave," are lukewarm on "Changing Times" and loathed "Gabrielle" when we saw it at the New York Film Festival last year. Also opening are William H. Macy-does-Mamet "Edmond," Edward Burns remaking (an apparently somewhat better version of) the same movie he always does in "The Groomsmen," and indie sex comedy "The OH in Ohio," with the unexpectedly high-end cast of Parker Posey, Paul Rudd and Marissa Cooper…er,  Mischa Barton.

 

Stay.
+ "Gabrielle": Everyone (except us) apparently loves Patrice Chéreau‘s adaptation of Joseph Conrad novella "The Return" — even the New York PressArmond White, who calls the film "a formalistic tour de force," but still manages to get his digs in at someone: "Measuring art by the intricacies of the cultural past is a more enlightened approach than the specious historicism of movies like ‘The Notorious Bettie Page’ and Hou Hsiao Hsien‘s ‘Three Times.’" (To be honest, we’re not sure what he means there — theories and explications would be appreciated.) At the Village Voice, Dennis Lim approaches the film from the angle of the original novella, and finds it "as compact and precise as the Conrad original, and a stunning reinvention of the period chamber drama." He, and others, calls out Chereau’s use of intertitles splashed across the screen at key moments: "a curious affectation that confers a spectral, antique quality on the proceedings but also has a perversely bracing, almost Pop Art effect."

Manohla Dargis, who calls "Gabrielle" "a film of eccentric beauty and wild feeling," notes of the actors "[Isabelle] Huppert, one of the screen’s great criers (second only to Juliette Binoche), spends much of the film with a flush and damp face, suffering in sepulchral silence while [Pascal] Greggory brilliantly rages." Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir salutes Chereau’s filmmaking:

[H]e tries to stretch the cinematic medium to the breaking point. The film hopscotches between black-and-white and color sequences, without any obvious system. Patches of the film are silent, with huge, intrusive intertitles to convey information and even lines of dialogue. As Chéreau admits, the editing deliberately violates the established grammar of cinema, so that the camera seems to skip around the couple’s opulent rooms, and we sometimes see events happen more than once from different points of view.

He does slip in, however: "But is it easy, or delightful, or fun? It is not."

And the indieWIRE/Reverse Shot group loves it.

 

"I know you - incapable of being alone."
+ "Time to Leave": "Curiously, the melodramatic elements of ‘Time to Leave’ — the moments of emotional display, the surges of music — help to insulate the film from sentimentality," writes A.O. Scott. He seems to like François Ozon‘s film, while pointing out that it "explains very little, choosing instead to emphasize the essential paradox that an individual’s life is never complete and always over too soon." Andrew O’Hehir is more explicit:

It’s a magnificent miniature, a supremely tender work that’s full of emotion and even sentimentality, but that never stoops to fulfill the audience’s wishes or tries to make Romain ([Melvil] Poupaud) any more likable on death’s door than he was before.

He also notes that "It’s good, at least in theory, to see the great Jeanne Moreau in an important cameo as Romain’s grandmother, although I’m sorry to say you may be shocked by her appearance." Well, she is way old. At New York, David Edelstein finds "there’s something distasteful about Ozon’s unexamined solipsism," but muses that "The way in this film that tortured people dramatize their rage and longing via sex reminds you how much is missing—a world of experience—in the American cinema."

At the Village Voice, Dennis Lim is a touch hostile: "’Time to Leave’ amounts simply to a semi-thoughtful disease-of-the-week weepie, admirable in its restraint but shying from the terror of the situation." He also complains that the film "winds up a tiresome affirmation of man’s biological duty to procreate; the position is simplistic verging on obnoxious, especially after 5×2’s attack on the hetero family model."

 

"I'm a faithful type."+ "Changing Times": At the New York Times, Stephen Holden raves that "Changing Times" finds director André Téchiné "near the peak of his form."

Much of the movie’s charm lies in its sheer vitality. Mr. Téchiné loves people and life, and every scene is filled with light, music, activity and a sensuous appreciation of landscape.

Armond White similarly claims of Téchiné that "No current filmmaker is more deft and incisive."

To put it simply, "Changing Times" is an amazing film to look at: images keep moving and new characters keep appearing as relationships expand and complicate. Téchiné’s style recalls Altman but is resolutely unCassavetes — never pausing to outstare or contemplate — he keeps moving, furiously.

He also calls it "the film of the year." Michael Atkinson at the Village Voice would beg to disagree he writes that "Téchiné has always been an electric image maker, but his narratives are prone to diffusion or cliché, and there may not be a single propulsively written story in his 30-year filmography." He finds that the film never pulls itself together, a grumble repeated by Andrew O’Hehir,  who writes "[I]t’s kind of a mess. An agreeable, even lovable mess, but still a mess."

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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.