DID YOU READ

TIFF in pieces.

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"A true story of survival... declassified."
We don’t see ourselves covering Toronto anytime soon — a good thing, because when we look over the festival we’re seized with an overwhelming sense of panic. So! Many! Movies! We imagine rushing around trying to fit in seven screenings a day and staying up all night attempting to write them up, and by day three turning up dead in a Canadian gutter, the paramedics forced to use the Jaws of Life to pry the laptop out of our cold hands.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of Toronto coverage out there. Lots of snippets:

At indieWIRE, Anthony Kaufman writes that "With many of Hollywood’s biggest offerings bombing here in Toronto (stay away from ‘A Good Year’ and ‘All the King’s Men’), critics have sought solace in half a dozen already proven Cannes favorites (‘Volver,’ ‘Climates,’ ‘Babel’) and a number of smaller, newer foreign discoveries and documentaries." That seems to be the general sentiment at the festival midpoint; Kaufman highlights three death-centric films, Bahman Ghobadi‘s "Half Moon," Roger Michell‘s "Venus," and Danish newcomer Peter Schønau Fog‘s "The Art of Crying."

Wesley Morris at the Boston Globe finds the prevailing message of the festival seems to be less death than the fact that "The world is a mess"; he’s one of many greatly (and surprisingly, given the relatively good reception at Cannes) unhappy with Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu‘s "Babel." He’s also not alone in disliking Marc Forster‘s Charlie Kaufman-lite "Stranger Than Fiction" and speaking well of "Shortbus." At the Globe‘s Movie Nation blog, Scott Heller‘s also reeling from the Forster film, but recommends Guy Maddin‘s "Brand Upon the Brain!”: "It’s very very Maddin (inky B&W, a Grand Guignol plot, overheated dialogue, juvenile jokiness) but delicious nonetheless."

David Poland is disappointed by the whole festival: "there just aren’t enough festival films to fill the schedule with quality right now." Peter Bowen at the Filmmaker blog also feels the malaise, allowing that "It is not that the films are bad; just not exciting."

At the Risky Biz blog, Anne Thompson reports on Michael Moore‘s "Sicko" preview, which was plagued with technical difficulties: "Word is, Moore was so angry with what ["Borat" director Larry] Charles called their ‘bad techno-karma’ that he treated the Toronto staff rudely and refused to speak to fest director Noah Cowan."

Speaking of "Borat," the premiere that wasn’t has been well documented: Jason Chow at the LA Times has a full account of Sasha Baron Cohen‘s always-in-character entrance and press encounters:

Are you propagating bigotry in the film? "Yeah." How will the movie affect Kazakhstan’s international reputation? "I hope it will help the people know about Kazakhstan and know that we are now a civilized country like everyone else…. Homosexuals do not have to wear blue hats and the age of consent has been raised to 11 years old."

Projection problems halted the film less than halfway though: "[Michael] Moore, a former projectionist, went up to the booth and attempted to solve the problem, but the filmmaker soon left the booth shaking his head, saying there wasn’t much he could do."

David Poland, catching the film’s full airing the next night (his third viewing) clearly is a fan, and willing to argue for Cohen’s Oscar chances: "This is, in its raw way, Chaplin or Tati."

Film Freak Central‘s Bill Chambers writes of "The Host": "I’m no scholar of the Man in Suit genre, but I feel pretty confident in saying that this is the pinnacle of giant-monster cinema.

Back at the Risky Biz blog, Sheigh Crabtree posts two video clips from the "Rescue Dawn" Q&A with Werner Herzog and Christian Bale. Brian Brooks at indieWIRE reports that MGM has acquired all North American rights for the film.

Mack at Twitch reviews (and likes) teen horror film "All The Boys Love Mandy Lane," which MovieWeb notes was picked up by The Weinstein Company for its Dimension Films arm. The Weinsteins also bought the rights to doc "Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show." Elsewhere on the otherwise relatively quiet doc front, TIFF’s Doc Blog has a note from the premiere of AJ Schnack‘s "Kurt Cobain: About a Son":

Cobain‘s impact on our culture could be felt in the line-up outside, as fans waited for hours in the rush line hoping to see the film. Inside the theatre, the presence of [journalist Michael] Azerrad and photography legend Charles Peterson echoed their tremendous support for the project, as did the contributions to the amazing soundtrack for the film. Azerrad, seeing the film for the first time tonight, said that one thing this film does do for him is give him a sense of closure.

Arthur Spiegelman at Reuters reports on the premiere of Gabriel Range‘s controvery-courting "Death of a President," which depicts the assassination of George W. Bush in the style of a TV documentary. "The 93-minute film’s subject matter has led to many protests in the United States, especially from conservatives. Range said he has received five or six death threats." Range claims to be on the verge of closing a US distribution deal for the film.

A few more reviews: Dave Kehr on Manoel de Oliveira‘s "sequel" to Bunuel‘s "Belle de jour" ("another of the great Portuguese director’s memory films"); Kehr on Jia Zhang-ke‘s "Dong" ("a companion piece to his fictional feature ‘Still Life’"). Girish Shambu reviews Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s "Climates," Corneliu Porumboiu‘s "12:08 East Of Bucharest" and Aki Kaurismäki‘s "Lights In The Dusk."

And at the Miami Herald‘s Reeling blog, Rene Rodriguez writes "The best movie I’ve seen in Toronto thus far isn’t even playing at the festival." He caught a sneak preview of Scorsese‘s "The Departed": "[T]his is Scorsese’s best and most invigorating work since the underrated Casino, if not GoodFellas, as well as his most sheerly entertaining."

An update: Newmarket Films (who also distributed "The Passion of the Christ") bought the US rights for "Death of a President" for a reported $1 million.

+ "Half Moon," "Venus," "Art of Crying" Focus on Death; "Escape" and "Fire" Get Political (indieWIRE)

+ At Toronto film fest, some nuggets amid the overhyped (Boston Globe)
+ Toronto Day 3 (Boston Globe: Movie Nation)
+ September 11, 2006 (The Hot Button)
+ OH CANADA! (Filmmaker Blog)
+ Toronto Diary (Risky Biz)
+ Splashy Entry, but About That Exit, Borat… (LA Times)
+ BORAT II (The Hot Blog)
+ My TIFF So Far (FilmFreakCentral)
+ Video: Herzog, Bale in ‘Rescue Dawn’ Q&A at TIFF06 (Risky Biz)
+ "Rescue Dawn" Flies to MGM for North America (indieWIRE)
+ TIFF Report: All The Boys Love Mandy Lane Review (Twitch)
+ Weinstein Buys Up Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show and All The Boys Love Mandy Lane (MovieWeb)
+ Kurt Cobain Speaks Out at TIFF (TIFF Doc Blog)
+ Controversial "Death of a President" film debuts (Reuters)
+ Belle Toujours (Manoel de Oliveira, 2006, Toronto Film Festival) (DaveKehr.com)
+ Dong (Jia Zhang-ke, 2006, Toronto Film Festival) (DaveKehr.com)
+ Toronto Journal 1: Climates, etc. (GirishShambu.com)
+ A dazzling "Departed" (Miami Herald: Reeling)

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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.