“Gray Matters,” “Glastonbury”

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By Matt Singer

IFC News

[Photo: “Gray Matters,” Yari Film Group, 2007]

Gray Matters

There’s something to the idea of a gay reimagining of
the classic screwball comedy as a love triangle
between a straight brother and his gay sister who both
fall in love with the same woman. But “Gray Matters”
takes that charming premise in charmless and
unsophisticated directions.

Writer/director Sue Kramer acknowledges in the press
notes that she wanted to capture the “elegance and
grace of [a] 1940s movie classic,” but her film feels,
sounds and looks more like an episode of “Mad About
You” than like a film by Howard Hawks or Gregory La
Cava. Her characters talk quickly enough to exist
within a screwball comedy world, but what they say
never even approximates the wit of Preston Sturges or
Billy Wilder. Granted, the comparison is unfair;
Kramer is a first-time filmmaker and I’m measuring her
against some of the giants of the art form. But if
she’s retooling these filmmakers’ movies for a modern
audience who else can I compare her to?

Heather Graham plays Gray (sadly, she does not have a
crazy sidekick named Matters), a bubbly ad exec who
lives with her doctor brother Sam (Tom Cavanaugh). The
two share a life of dinner parties, jogging in the
park, being mistaken for a couple, and, occasionally,
working. They’re both single, partly because the
furnishings in their apartment have more personality
than they do. Enter Charlie (Bridget Moynahan), a
zoologist who happens to be the perfect mate for both:
she is a 1940s film buff, she loves dogs and she
never wears a bra. She falls for Sam and Gray falls
for her and realizes for the first time in her life
that she may be gay. Molly Shannon is Gray’s easily
excitable co-worker; Alan Cumming plays one of her
straight suitors and later dresses like a woman.

According to the press notes Kramer is not gay, and it
leaves my curious why she chose to explore the topic
when she, evidentially, doesn’t have a great deal to
say about the (gray) matter. Gray’s acceptance of her
own homosexuality is one big joke (including “wacky”
therapy sessions with Dr. Sissy Spacek at bowling
alleys or on rock climbing walls) and her big coming
out story a time in her past when she literally came
out of a closet. Kramer’s better when dealing with
more general female topics, like how society and media
and, yes, men give women warped self-images; Gray is
terrified, for instance, of her unsightly chin fat,
but, of course, Heather Graham has no chin fat (and as
one who does, I should know).

It’s an idiosyncratic picture; whatever else you can
say about it, it’s hard to deny “Gray Matters” comes
from an singular voice, even if that voice is mostly
interested in cheap therapist jokes and giving all due
praise to that remarkable spice nutmeg (seriously,
count how many times it comes up in casual
conversation). Still, in one delightful moment,
Kramer hits her target. Gray comes home to find
Charlie alone, watching a classic musical that both
love and know by heart. The two begin reenacting the
dance, and for once, the promise of that gay
reimagining of classical Hollywood cinema is realized
is a moment of true beauty and charm, one that carries
the same blissful high as the movies Gray, Charlie and Kramer love. But then Sam walks in, the moment passes and it’s back to business as usual.


Epic in length and scope, if not level of success,
Julien Temple’s documentary about the Glastonbury
Music Festival is sort of like a history lesson by a
professor on a long, strange drug trip. Forget
chronology or story: free association reigns as Temple
pieces together his nearly two and a half hour
chronicle of Britain’s longest running and most famous
celebration of music, hippie culture and building
sculpture out of garbage. It’s Burning Man with a
better soundtrack.

A few totally bitchin’ moments aside — who knew
Richie Havens could wail on the acoustic guitar?!?
— watching “Glastonbury” is like watching someone
else’s home movies: they have all this nostalgia and
all these fabulous personal stories associated with
the images. We just see a bunch of guys on drugs
flopping around in some mud for 140 minutes.

There’s lots of footage of Glastonbury musical
performances from Radiohead, Coldplay, Joe Strummer,
The Prodigy, Pulp, and many, many more (though
rarely full songs, which kind of sucks) spliced with
lots of footage of Glastonbury attendees, using the
public toilets, doing drugs, sneaking their way onto
the festival grounds. Temple covers a lot of ground,
literally and figuratively, but the buzz that everyone
at Glastonbury gets from being there didn’t transfer
to the film. Even if most everyone on screen looks
like they’re having a pretty good time, we’re not
really having one watching them.

The movie is too long and too focused to fully enjoy.
Rather than a theatrical release, the project would be
best served as a DVD, where you could skip around and
watch the performances at your leisure. With Temple’s
hand on the remote control, as it were, the concert
tends to run long.

“Gray Matters” in limited release February 23rd (official site). “Glastonbruy” opens in Los Angeles on February 23rd (official site).


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…


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. 


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

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.


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.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



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.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.