DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: November 3rd, 2006

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Romanticó,” Meteor Films, 2006]

A round-up of the indie and indie-ish films opening in theaters this week.

“Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”

“Jagshemash!” Sacha Baron Cohen returns to the big screen in this controversial mockumentary that made a huge splash at the Toronto Film Festival. The racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic Borat might draw protests from the Kazakh government, but we doubt that will prevent audiences from flocking to see this biting satire on American culture.

Opens wide (official site).

“Flushed Away”

Our favorite British animators at Aardman Studios return for their first fully CGI feature film, opting to abandon their signature style of clay animation. The film’s synopsis seems to be pretty standard for animated animal fare (this time: they’re rats!), but the Brit celebrity voices of Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, and Gandalf himself, Ian McKellan, are far more appealing than this recent animated entry. Plus, rumors abound that Gromit makes a cameo appearance, which just made this movie five times cooler.

Opens wide (official site).

“Romanticó”

Mark Becker’s first documentary feature since 2003’s “Lost Boys of Sudan” chronicles a Mexican troubadour’s return home following a failed music career in San Francisco. The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Shottas”

Described in the media as “the Caribbean ‘Scarface,'” this Jamaican thriller was filmed in 2002 and has been awaiting release ever since. The film tells the story of two young men and drugs in both Kingston and Washington D.C. DJ Spragga Benz and reggae musician Ky-Mani Marley (yes, son of Bob) star.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Soap”

This tragicomedy focuses on the relationship between a 32-year old owner of a beauty clinic and a reclusive transsexual as their personal lives begin to reflect the transsexual’s favorite soap opera (Get it? “Soap”?). Pernille Fischer Christensen, the film’s director, was awarded the Best Debut Film and Silver Berlin Bear Awards at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Umrao Jaan”

J.P. Dutta adapts the classic Urdu novel “Umrao Jan Ada,” about the life of a courtesan in turn of the century India.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Unknown”

First-time director Simon Brand enlists Greg Kinnear, Barry Pepper, Joey Pants and Mel Gibson’s Jesus in this new thriller about five men who awaken in a warehouse with no recollection of how they got there. Think “Memento,” except now there are five guys and no Sammy Jankis.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Volver”

Ah, Almodóvar. It’s been nearly two years since your last masterpiece (“Bad Education”), and now the entire film community is crazy about your latest Cannes-winner. Carmen Maura stars in her first Almodóvar film since 1988, as a ghost who returns to the home of her two daughters to help restore order to their unstable lives. Plus, it’s always nice to see that Penélope Cruz does in fact know how to act (We’re still trying to get over “Sahara”).

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (official site).

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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.