DID YOU READ

The week’s critic wrangle: “Dahlia,” darling.

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Honestly, she terrifies us.
+ "The Black Dahlia": Sorry, Mr. De Palma, but your "dark side of vintage Hollywood film" is averaging out worse with the critics than "Hollywoodland," with added sighs of disappointment — this one, everyone really really wanted to like. On the plus side, the Village Voice‘s J. Hoberman writes that "Although the action set pieces are impressive, the exposition is sluggish. For all the posh dollies, high angles, and Venetian-blind crisscross patterns, The Black Dahlia rarely achieves the rhapsodic (let alone the delirious)." Wait, that’s the good side? At Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman, also fairly generous to the film, still thinks that "Somehow, it’s all dreadfully old hat…The Black Dahlia isn’t a cheat, it’s just a misfire, but the most surprising feeling it stirred in me was nostalgia for Brian De Palma’s old flamboyance." And there’s the dubious blessing of a rapturous Armond White at the New York Press, who insists that "L.A. Confidential and Hollywoodland—films that pretend to investigate our national fascination with movies—look like child’s play compared to Brian DePalma’s The Black Dahlia," and blames any problems on the "superficial sociology of author James Ellroy‘s source material."

It’s goes downhill from there: Scott Foundas at LA Weekly mourns that the film is "an ideal match of director, writer and subject, and The Black Dahlia has so many of the right moves, you wish the whole thing were better" — she’s one of several critics to pick out Hilary Swank‘s as the notable performance (the tomboy outvamps Scarlett Johansson!), though others aren’t so fond of it. At the New Yorker, David Denby calls the film "overrich and fundamentally unsatisfying"; David Edelstein at New York claims to be "stumped" by it: "I can’t tell you how it ended up such a stiff." Dana Stevens at Slate argues that the Ellroy novel that was "Dahlia"’s basis provides the film’s only worthwhile moments, and notes that "it almost doesn’t make sense to analyze the performances in The Black Dahlia since every actor seems cast in a movie of his or her own invention." For Manohla Dargis at the New York Times, most signs of life involve Swank and her character’s demented Hollywood-aristocrat family. And Stephanie Zacharek at Salon writes that "Mostly, the picture is curiously detached. It’s stylish in the De Palma mode, but not nearly as resonant as those of us who love him hoped it would be." Also:

In the past 10 years or so, I’ve had more casual conversations than I can count in which I’ve had to defend De Palma against charges of misogyny, or claims that he’s just a slick stylist who knows how to push buttons. De Palma does know how to push buttons, but I think what really enrages people is that he pushes buttons they didn’t know they had. He also trusts us, his audience, to do the work of thinking and feeling, and sometimes, through no fault of his own, we balk at the responsibility. In his greatest pictures — "Casualties of War" would be at the top, with "Blow Out" and "Carlito’s Way" hovering nearby — perhaps he’s asking us to relinquish some of our pride as moviegoers, as bright people hip to the trickery of the movie arts, in order to reinforce our dignity as human beings. No wonder so many people hate him.

"That's harmony."+ "Confetti": Mixed reviews for this improvised comedy, most dwelling on the inherent US/British comedy divide. Ella Taylor at LA Weekly is most generous, writing that:

Confetti comes not to emulate, but to rescue us from, the seemingly endless stream of cookie-cutter British comedies — the lazy-minded spawn of The Full Monty — about workers moving on up through soccer, song and dance, or flashing their tits for a good cause. And if nothing else, this affectionately off-the-wall confection offers exuberant confirmation of every suspicion you might have ever had that the English are charmingly eccentric. They’re barking mad.

Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly muses that "Yanks should be proud, I suppose, that American excess and vulgarity provide fodder for a charming Busby Berkeley finale. Equal opportunists, though, might wish [director Debbie] Isitt had set at least one of the three nuptials amid some truly wretched Brit pomp for a change." And Stephen Holden at the New York Times thinks that "’Confetti’ lacks [Christopher] Guest and his company’s shared understanding that each person is a miniature comic planet with its own quirky climate, whirling in its own eccentric orbit."

 

"The Last Kiss" movie mathematics: Tony Scott lede: "Is 30 the new 50, or is it the new 12?" Lisa Schwarzbaum lede: "If it’s true that, for women, 60 is the new 40, must it follow that, for men, 30 is the new 10?"

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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.