DID YOU READ

NYFF: “Woman on the Beach.”

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"This is fun."
Joong-rae, an established (though not so well-off) director, corralls his weak-willed friend Chang-wook into taking him to the seaside for a few days so that he can work on his overdue script. Chang-wook agrees on the condition that he can bring his girlfriend along. The three set off in the morning in the friend’s car, listening to music written and performed by the girl, Moon-sook, who is a composer and clearly a big fan of
Joong-rae’s work. They have stilted getting-to-know-you conversations. They find a place to stay. And then, as they dawdle outside, Joong-rae tells Chang-wook that he likes him because he’s so trusting: "It’s hard for a married man to bring his girlfriend out with him so openly." "I’m not his girlfriend," retorts Moon-sook. "You have to have sex for that."

"This is fun," says Joong-rae.

And so begins another of Hong Sang-soo‘s adept, acid-laced explorations of relationships, the gender divide and Korean masculinity. We only get a vague sense of what Joong-rae’s films are like, arty and sensitive enough that the women in the film are googly eyed upon meeting him. Moon-sook is harboring a crush, though after the three have spent an evening together drinking she observes that he’s not like his films: "Sorry, but you’re actually just another Korean man." This doesn’t stop her from opening up to him as the night goes on, as they run and leave Chang-wook behind, walking the beach at night and ultimately trysting in an unlocked, empty hotel room. The next morning he’s distant, and she’s ready to let him off the hook, if a little hurt. She and Chang-wook return to Seoul, and Joong-rae stays, calls her to apologize, and in passing picks up another woman staying at a nearby hotel.

Hong’s characterizations are hard to take — they would be cruel if they weren’t so fully realized, and if he weren’t such a connoisseur of the acts of social sadism that pepper our interactions with others. Joong-rae is an epic disaster, the extent of which we realize alongside Moon-sook. He’s insecure and needy, defensive and manipulative, prone to strident rages and, in the truest detail of all, to using the ensuing emotional chaos as fodder for his film. Process is never pretty. Moon-sook is charming and charmingly direct, though at one point she reveals that she’s older than she appears; she acts and looks like a winsome girl. In fact, all of the characters seem in different degrees to be blustering children, until they suddenly reveal inscrutable back-stories littered with the wreckage of past relationships, romantic and otherwise.

"Woman on the Beach" is, if it’s not clear from the above, a comedy, and it is very funny, if also threaded with a sense of despair at the apparent futility of human connection. Shot almost entirely on the beach and in the buildings facing it, the film has a chilly air to it that’s partially the director’s world view, and partially just inherent to the setting: There are few things sadder than an empty, windswept resort town once the season has ended.

Screens September 30 and October 1 at Alice Tully Hall.

+ "Woman on the Beach" (NYFF)

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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.