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DID YOU READ

SXSW remnants.

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No Clark Kent.
Before it gets ridiculously late (instead of just goofily so, which is where we may be falling with this) to be posting anything more on SXSW, we wanted to get a few other things out there:

"Confessions of a Superhero": In Christopher Dennis, director Matt Ogens has found a doc subject almost too good to be true — the boyishly handsome (if tattered around the edges) Dennis makes his living by donning a Superman suit, painstakingly twisting his hair into a Christopher Reeve curl on his forehead, and heading out to Hollywood Boulevard to pose in photos with tourists for tips. He’s a Superman obsessive — the apartment he shares with his enraptured girlfriend is packed with merchandise and memorabilia — who, as another sidewalk superhero points out, is suffocating in his own fixation, his life curtailed by his unhinged dedication. None of film’s the other subjects — the once homeless man who dons a full foam suit to play the Hulk, the buxom former homecoming queen who dresses as Wonder Woman, the short-tempered guy who does Batman — are ever as interesting, though they’re all a little tragic and often seriously lacking in self-awareness, rattling around the bottom rungs of the entertainment industry and dreaming big dreams. Ogens treats his subjects gently, even when they display a troubling inability to separate fact from fiction, but this means that promising threads, like Dennis’ perhaps dubious claim that he’s the son of actress of Sandy Dennis, are allowed to drop. The aggressively moody doc sometimes hangs its themes a little heavily, but it’s compelling, and the still photographs that pepper the interviews and observational footage are poignant and strikingly memorable.
"Confessions of a Superhero" currently has no theatrical distribution.

"Steal a Pencil for Me": Oscar-nominated director Michèle Ohayon‘s fourth feature-length documentary is a love story set in a concentration camp. The romance of Jaap Polak and Ina Soep bloomed during their stints together at Westerbork and Bergen-Belsen, documented in the letters they smuggled to each other — Jaap was married at the time, and his wife was with him at the camps. The horrors of the Holocaust have been chronicled in so many films that we’ve started avoiding them because we’re uncomfortable with the impassivity you start to develop — nothing can make you picture the flames of hell that surely await you quite like fighting boredom during a Holocaust film. Jaap, now in his 90s, and Ina are a charming, mischievous couple, and "Steal a Pencil for Me" offers a novel angle on a terrible time, but it’s an only fitfully engaging film that relies heavily on a florid readings of the letters. Better are the film’s scattered moments of improbable levity, as when Ina tells her daughter about how, even at Bergen-Belsen, she used to wear rollers every night, because while they didn’t get many opportunities to wash their hair, it might as well fall nicely.
"Steal a Pencil for Me" currently has no theatrical distribution.

"Fish Kill Flea": Co-directed by Aaron Hillis, who’s both a friend of ours and a contributor to the IFC News website, "Fish Kill Flea" is a charming and bittersweet portrait of a large flea market that’s settled into a dead mall in upstart New York. With a tip of the hat to "Gates of Heaven," the unnarrated doc allows its subject to guide its progress, its camera winding through the cluttered aisles of the flea market and, eventually, on an evocative tour through the wreckage of the mall itself. On the way, the filmmakers capture some marvelously observed moments — an impromptu performance of the theme from "Doctor Zhivago" on a keyboard, a sullen portrait with the Easter Bunny — but the heart of the film ultimately lies in its interviews with the sellers. One has recruited her mother to assist her in selling pot paraphernalia; another matter-of-factly displays his wares, which consist mainly of Nazi and concentration camp memorabilia. The film takes all of these people in with scarcely a wink and nary a smirk, even when one vendor shares, apparently unprompted, the story of his encounter with Bigfoot.
"Fish Kill Flea" currently has no theatrical distribution.

"Everything’s Gone Green": Novelist Douglas Coupland‘s original screenplay debut treads into expected territory of 20-something malaise. It’s been over 15 years since Coupland’s first and still most significant cultural contribution, "Generation X," and his young characters are no longer hiding from society in the desert, they’re gamely slogging along in quirky jobs and trying to live happy, ethical lives. In Coupland’s view, the weight of material acquisitions makes that an impossibility, and likable lead Paulo Costanzo‘s character Ryan lands a job at the national lottery, where he learns this lesson by chronicling the initial exhilaration and eventual ruin met with by the winners — not that this stops him from cashing in when an opportunity to make some illicit extra dough comes around. "Everything’s Gone Green" introduces some new Coupland neologisms (a "seethrough" = a building of sleek condos owned by Asian investors who don’t live in them), but doesn’t offer the insights one would hope; the film has the feel of a mid-90s throwback, which is tough in a festival offering multiple and very up-to-date perspectives on young adult angst. It is, however, rampantly and refreshingly Canadian, and one of the few films we can think of in which Vancouver plays itself.
"Everything’s Gone Green" will be released by First Independent Pictures on April 20th.

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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.