DID YOU READ

NYFF: “The Journals of Knud Rasmussen.”

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"We believe happy people should not worry about hidden things."
The immediate thrill of Zacharias Kunuk‘s two films, 2001’s "The Fast Runner" and this year’s "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen" (which he co-directed with Norman Cohn), is anthropological. For most of us, the world they depict is an exquisitely alien one of unbroken white vistas and pervasive, almost corporeal cold in which the idea eking out any existence, much less the culturally rich and happy one of "Journals," is hard to fathom. Kunuk knows this, and a good portion of the film is dedicated to taking in the otherwise unchronicled rhythms of traditional Inuit life.

"Journal" is in fact based on the work of an anthropologist — the half-Inuit, half-Danish Rasmussen, who in the 1920s traveled the Canadian Arctic gathering details for maps and documenting tribal customs and folklore of different tribes. He published some of the definitive research texts on Inuit culture, which at the time of film’s setting, 1922, was already being threatened by encroaching European culture and Christian missionaries. The film’s central pair, the great shaman Avva and his beautiful, willful daughter Apak, live at historical turning point for their people.

At the beginning of the film, Rasmussen meets up with Avva and his family. He has with him two other Danes (one played by "Pusher"‘s Kim Bodnia) who are hoping to negotiate travel to Iglulik, where Avva is from and where he left after the community converted to Christianity. And after that, Rasmussen disappears almost unheralded, which is one of the other exciting, and sometimes irritating aspects of Kunuk’s work. He’s a self-taught filmmaker, and his approach has an abandon and a disregard for typical narrative signposting and structure that can be rewarding and can other times just confusing.

"Journals" may not be as coherent or accessible as "The Fast Runner," but it is still a fascinating and deeply compassionate film. Pakak Innukshuk in particular as Avva is a figure of quiet tragedy, the lone holdout standing by traditions that are thousands of years old and suddenly unwanted. He delivers a wonderful monologue explaining how he became a shaman that shifts into a justification of the rules that have for so long governed how his people have lived, and he stands alone in the end, in what is one of the most mournful scenes in recent cinema.

The cast of "Journals" consists mainly of non-professional actors, and the film (shot on DV) sometimes has the feel of documentary, by necessity as much as intent — you can’t plan around a arctic blizzard. In another scene during a celebration, a character dressed up in a costume and dancing turns around and walks smack into the camera. Everyone laughs, but there’s never a feeling of breaking through the fourth wall. It’s more that the line between acting and living fades, and maybe it was never that important anyway.

Screens October 8 and 9 at Alice Tully Hall.

+ "The Journals of Knud Rasmussen" (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.