DID YOU READ

Carrying nations, one continent.

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"Enjoy it while you can."
At the Guardian’s Film Blog, director Alfonso Cuarón writes that he doesn’t feel the success of his film and the films of Iñárritu and Del Toro should be chalked up as a triumph for Mexican cinema because they’re not really Mexican:

What I resent, however, is the notion that the Oscars are somehow bestowing legitimacy on Mexican cinema. We don’t need this legitimacy… It is also dangerous to view us as somehow "representing Mexican cinema". Of course Alejandro, Guillermo and I are rooted in Mexico. But we are also a part of everything else as well. Children of Men is set in London, Pan’s Labyrinth in Spain, while Alejandro shot Babel in a variety of languages and in locations ranging from Japan to California to Morocco. On the one hand these can be viewed as Mexican pictures; on the other, they are films that defy the usual nationalistic criteria.

Completely fair, though the Mexican cinema label was more convenient journalistic shorthand than trend analysis, at least from what we saw. What we find more exciting is the way Cuarón and Del Toro have made uncompromisingly arty genre films — that is something we’d like to see as a trend.

At the Globe and Mail, Edward Wilkinson Latham talks to "The Lives of Others" director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck about the animus for the film, a national rise of ostalgie, "a cultish nostalgia for life behind the Iron Curtain in the former German Democratic Republic":

The more popular I saw ostalgie becoming, the more I felt it imperative to get my film made. I could ask a teenager on the street in Germany what the former GDR stood for or what it was it like to live there and they would describe it as ‘cool’ or a ‘slightly quaint place,’ unaware of the brutal control or even that it was one of few Communist systems that openly called itself a dictatorship of the proletariat.

At the Observer, Mark Kermode wonders at the portrait of England painted by these year’s Oscar nominees: "[I]s the portrait of Britain painted by this year’s strong turnout a genuine snapshot of UK film-making talent or a picture postcard of cabbages and queens?" Clearly, he’s thinking cabbage/queen.

And at the New York Times, La Manohla claims tragedy fatigue when it comes to American-produced films about tough times in Africa:

Most American films about Africa mean well, at least those without Bruce Willis, and even openly commercial studio fare like “Blood Diamond” wears its bleeding, thudding heart on its sleeve. But what, exactly, are we meant to do with all their images, I wonder? Like “The Constant Gardener” and “Catch a Fire,” two other thrillers set in Africa, “Blood Diamond” was designed to make money, not instigate change. Watching Leonardo DiCaprio share the screen with genuine handless black Africans or Ralph Fiennes’s gardener learn a lesson in postcolonial realpolitik while I munch my popcorn doesn’t rouse me to action; it stirs horror, pity, sometimes repulsion, sentiments that linger uneasily until the action starts up again to sweep away that empathy with another explosion, gunfight or rousing chase.

+ Film-makers without borders (Guardian)
+ Ostalgie: Do you miss the Stasi, too? (Globe and Mail)
+ Oscar tunnel vision prefers a regal view of Britain (Observer)
+ Africa, at the Cineplex (NY Times)

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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.