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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: March 23rd, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Guy Pearce in “First Snow,” Yari Film Group Releasing, 2007]

A round-up of the best (or worst) $10 you’ll spend this week.

“Air Guitar Nation”

From spelling bees to crossword puzzles to mad hot ballrooms, filmmakers have found an interest in documenting something we can only describe as “competitive hobbies.” First time director Alexandria Lipsitz focuses on a group of selected individuals who dare to dream of air guitar greatness, as competitors from all across the globe meet in a small city in Finland to take part in the annual World Air Guitar Championships. Though we here at IFC News remain steadfast Guitar Hero II rockers, we’re hard-pressed to turn down anything guitar-related, real guitar or imaginary.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Color Me Kubrick”

After premiering nearly two years ago at the Dinard Festival of British Cinema, Brian W. Cook’s wildly eccentric film about a wildly eccentric poseur pretending to be a wildly eccentric director reaches US theaters. How can you not love John Malkovich as a fake Stanley Kubrick? Expect him to steal every scene in the film.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“First Snow”

First-time director Mark Fergus, who recently picked up his first Oscar nomination for the “Children of Men” adapted screenplay, co-wrote his debut feature about a hotshot salesman whose life goes into a tailspin after receiving an ominous fortune from a psychic. Guy Pearce stars as the man whose fate is left up to supernatural mysteries.

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

“The Hills Have Eyes 2”

“Rohtenburg” director Martin Weisz tackles the Wes Craven-penned sequel to that cannibal horror film from last year. Now, let’s take note, this is not the sequel to the European backpacking horror film or the one with the flesh-eating zombie/monkey virus or even another “Saw” film. Cannibals, people. Cannibals.

Opens wide (official site).

“Journey from the Fall”

This Vietnamese import from “The Anniversary” director Ham Tran follows what happens when a father is left behind in his native country as his family is forced to emigrate to the United States. Somewhere, we’re sure, Angelina Jolie is watching.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Last Mimzy”

You know, being the cinephiles that we are here at IFC News, we still have no idea what the hell a “mimzy” is. New Line Cinema founder and CEO Robert Shaye directs this kids’ film, his first since the 1990 crapfest “Book of Love,” about two siblings who begin to develop special powers after finding a mysterious box of toys. We’d guess that “The Office”‘s Rainn Wilson will be the best part of this one, but considering the film’s lack of positive buzz, theatrical release on a packed weekend, and Shaye’s directorial track record, we’re tempted to suggest that studio execs shouldn’t be headlining their own films anymore…

Opens wide (official site).

“Memory”

This Canadian suspense thriller from first-time feature director Bennett Davlin examines what happens when a medical researcher teams up with a doctor to root through the genetically stored memories of a serial killer. “Memory” stars Billy Zane and the hottest Cylon in “Battlestar Galactica,” Tricia Helfer.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Offside”

It might be a little early to proclaim “The Circle” director Jafar Panahi Iran’s answer to Almodóvar, as the Iranian director fills his films with women fighting against oppressive societies. But still — “Offside” tells the story of a group of young girls who dress as boys in order to sneak in to a World Cup soccer game, as women are not allowed in the stadium. Word of mouth for this one is mostly positive.

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

“The Page Turner”

A former gifted piano player returns to the musical conservatory that turned her away, inveigling herself in as the page turner for the chairwoman who caused her to fail her entrance to the school. Catherine Frot and Déborah François (of “L’Enfant”) star.

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

“Pride”

Based on a true story. Troubled teens growing up in rough urban neighborhoods. Inspirational teachers. You get the drill. We wouldn’t expect anything new in the underdog sports film “Pride,” from first-time director Sunu Gonera, but at least we get to see Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac act up a storm.

Opens wide (official site).

“The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair”

“Gunner Palace” directors Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker present another documentary on the effects of war in a bombed-out Iraq as a freedom-loving Iraqi journalist is mistaken for Tony Blair’s possible assassin and sentenced to prison in Abu Ghraib. The film continues Epperlein and Tucker’s darkly comic take on the American occupation through the use of original comic book art and a Kafka-esque portrayal of the journalist’s imprisonment.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Reign Over Me”

Adam Sandler gets depressed (drama!) and Don Cheadle gets all Good Samaritan in “The Upside of Anger” director Mike Binder’s latest, about two college roommates who rekindle a friendship several years after the September 11th attacks. We liked Sandler a bunch in “Punch-Drunk Love” (we keep trying to convince ourselves “Spanglish” never happened…) and love Cheadle in everything, but we’ve yet to find a non-documentary film concerned with 9/11 that we actually liked. We’re hoping Binder’s film uses 9/11 as little more than a dramatic plot device, but we’re not holding our breaths.

Opens wide (official site).

“Shooter”

Though this film may sound more like something Harrison Ford would’ve done fifteen years ago, we’re hoping director Antoine Fuqua can regain the form he displayed in 2001’s tense “Training Day.” Though we certainly love us some Mark Wahlberg ever since he dropped the Funky Bunch, sniper movies have a tendency to just not do it for us (“Enemy at the Gates,” anyone?).

Opens wide (official site).

“TMNT”

Hollywood continues to destroy our collective childhoods with this update of the 90s film/cartoon/comic book series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Though director Kevin Monroe opted to film completely in computer graphics for this franchise reboot, we’ll take the live-action films any day of the week. In the immortal words of Vanilla Ice, “Go ninja go ninja go! Go ninja go ninja go!”
Opens wide (official site).

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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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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.