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Odds: Wednesday – Magical black men and the Ancient Mariner.

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Is that you, God? It's me, Ofelia.
A few months ago, when that film about Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega going to Target and then going to Arby’s came out, we longed for someone to put together a list like this week’s at the Onion AV Club — we were not up to the challenge ourselves. They cite Christopher John Farley’s 2000 Time article "That Old Black Magic":

Farley explains them this way: "Hollywood screenwriters don’t know much
about black people other than what they hear on records by white
hip-hop star Eminem. So instead of getting life histories or love
interests, black characters get magical powers." Facile? Sure. But an
awful lot of movies, especially from the past decade, fit the bill.

And, for the record, only two of their 13 choices involve Freeman.

What is the greatest film of all time? According to Andrew Sarris at the New York Observer, it’s Max Ophüls"Madame de…" And next:

Still, I usually answer questions about the greatest film of all time by immediately throwing in my two runners-up: Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu Monogatari (1953) and Jean Renoir’s La Règle du Jeu (1939). Then, if I can grasp the questioner’s lapels long enough (much like Coleridge’s crazed Ancient Mariner), I rattle off the rest of my all-time ten-greatest list: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour (1967), F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise (1927), Charles Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) and Buster Keaton’s The General (1927).

Some days you feel like a true cinephile; other days you feel like you’re just a dabbler. Reading that paragraph makes us want to curl up under our desk, unable to bear the shame of being such a dilettante — were we to ever find ourselves talking to someone with handy lapels to grab, we’d be hard pressed to commit to even a definitive all-time top three to bellow in that person’s face.

At the San Francisco Chronicle, Matthai Chakko Kuruvila considers "Pan’s Labyrinth" as a non-denominational religious fable:

"It’s very hard to stay away from religion. We’re talking about a realm of experience that gives us our greatest meaning," says Vamsee Juluri, a Hindu and a professor of media studies at the University of San Francisco. " ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ gives us the language of universal religion at a time when it’s very hard to do that in the popular culture."

This isn’t an angle that even crossed our mind when we saw the film — doesn’t that equate religion to a fanciful but ultimately somewhat harmful escape from the daily hardships of life?

Alejandro Jodorowsky likes Korean films. Via Kim Tae-jong at the Korea Times:

"Every night, I watch a film, usually an Asian one. I’ve watched a lot of Korean films. Hard to name them all, but I was surprised by Korean film’s refreshing elements in their themes, acting and techniques. I think Korean films have already outdone Hong Kong and Japanese movies," he said.

He named "King and the Clown," "Forbidden Quest," "Old Boy" and "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" as some of his favorite Korean movies.

"Borat"‘s loss of a domain name has been cited in the State Department’s annual human rights report, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Steve Daly interviews Frank Miller at Entertainment Weekly:

300 is largely faithful to your material. But it takes the character of Queen Gorgo, who only appears in a couple of panels in your version, and gives her a major subplot with a character called Theron, an evil politician. What did you think of that addition?

At first I very much disagreed with it. My main comment was, ”This is a boys’ movie. Let it be that.” The story itself, in historical terms, really didn’t involve her all that much, from most accounts. But Zack had his reasons. He wanted to show that King Leonidas was fighting for something, by giving him a romantic aspect and by lingering in Sparta a little bit.

And Tom Mes at Midnight Eye talks to Nobuhiro Yamashita, whose "Linda Linda Linda" is a film dear to our heart. His latest film, the comedy "Matsugane Ransha Jiken (The Matsugane Potshot Affair)" opened last week in Japan — in a review at the Japan Times, Mark Schilling gave it a lukewarm review, sighing that "What passes for comedy in the Japanese mass media is often little better than ijime (bullying) played for laughs — one comedian baiting or beating another — so in a sense Yamashita is simply going mainstream, but, no fan of ijime in any of its infinitely varied forms, I watched much of the film stone-faced."

+ Inventory: 13 Movies featuring magical black men (AV Club)
+ The Greatest Film of All Time: Ophüls’ Madame de … Is Coming Back to Town (NY Observer)
+ Embraced by many religions, ‘Labyrinth’ allows broad discussion of faith issues (SF Chronicle)
+ Cult Director Jodorowsky Likes Korean Films (Korea Times)
+ Borat seen as human rights victim by U.S. gov’t (Hollywood Reporter)
+ Miller’s Tales (Entertainment Weekly)
+ Nobuhiro Yamashita (Midnight Eye)
+ Potshots that fail to slay you (Japan Times)



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


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.