“The Science of Sleep.”

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"I am your neighbor and a liar. By the way, do you have Zoe's number?"
Stéphane and Stéphanie, the two eccentric waifs involved in "The Science of Sleep"‘s semi-romance, are played Gael García Bernal and Charlotte Gainsbourg, a pairing of immense cosmopolitan charm and attractiveness. That director Michel Gondry manages to make them seem wan and unappealing is remarkable — the film is a testament to the benefits of collaboration with others.

Gondry has proven himself capable of apparently infinite visual inventiveness in his earlier films and his often brilliant music videos, and "The Science of Sleep" overflows with unforgettable set pieces, most representing the dreams of Stéphane, who has trouble distinguishing between sleep and waking life. A paper city dances outside a window; a man’s hands grow larger and larger as he tries to put together a paste-up; a ski trail is knitted together out of yarn. These scenes are all the more amazing when one takes into account that the film was made for a reported $6 million — Gondry has managed to squeeze more visual jolts out of next to nothing than, say, Gore Verbinski did with the over $200 million he got to make some pirate flick.

It’s too bad the rest of the film is such a mess. The story is "The Science of Sleep" is, Gondry has said in interviews, an autobiographical one. The film is shot in the director’s old Parisian apartment and is loosely based around his days working a dreary job in a calendar company, and, perhaps to compensate for any potential egotism of such a conceit, Gondry has written his stand-in Stéphane as a man just barely short of batshit insane. Stéphane is lured to Paris from Mexico by his mother (Miou-Miou) after the death of his father. She’s set him up with a job he expects will be more creative than it turns out to be — no one appreciates his idea of a calendar of illustrated disasters, and he’s put to work doing layouts. Rather than fall back on the typical escapes most people turn to when confronted with a dull day job (heavy drinking, TV, a side project), Stéphane takes to romancing/stalking the girl next door, Stéphanie, a sweet if barely formed character who dabbles in music and animation and has seemingly infinite patience for neurotic and infuriating behavior.

When you tilt your head the right way, you can see the story Gondry probably intended, that of tentative love blooming between two prickly, quirky young people with rich inner lives. And there are moments of that, of shabby wonder that are downright magical, from a stop-motion mechanical horse galloping around the floor of Stéphanie’s apartment to Stéphane’s strangest invention, a time machine (made out of a Speak & Spell) that sends you back only one second. But, like Stéphane, the film can’t seem to get out of its own head, and it rambles along like a disjointed anecdote that makes more sense to the teller than the tellee. Why does Stéphane ram his head into the door? What the hell does Stéphanie want, anyway? Who let Gondry write the script for his next film, "Be Kind Rewind"? We have no doubt he’ll provide ample explanation on the eventual DVD commentary, but we’d be more inclined to rewatch the film with the sound off, all the better to enjoy the prettiness.

Opens in limited release today.

+ "The Science of Sleep" (Warner Independent)


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.