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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: April 13th, 2007

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By Chris Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Lonely Hearts,” Roadside Attractions, 2007]

“Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie for Theaters”

Drawing the ire of both longtime fanboys and the Boston Police Force, the Cartoon Network’s popular [adult swim] program lands its first ever feature film. Though the cult audience for the show remains as devoted as ever, devout fans and message board members throughout the Intarweb feel that this latest entry in the series just cries of “sell out.” Regardless, we still think this will be the best film ever to star a talking milkshake.

Opens wide (official site).

“Disturbia”

The latest teen thriller stages a modern retelling of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window,” substituting Jimmy Stewart and a broken leg with upcoming “Transformers” star Shia LaBeouf (la-boof!) and a government-sanctioned ankle bracelet. Early reviews of the film state that LaBeouf’s natural charm and the clever use of technology form an interesting statement about the voyeuristic use of modern technology, but we’re just hoping director D.J. Caruso can create an entertaining thriller after a series of subpar films (“Two for the Money” and “Taking Lives”).

Opens wide (official site).

“The Glamorous Life of Sachiko Hanai”

Japanese director Mitsuru Meike carves political metaphor out of gratuitous sex scenes in the first “pink” (softcore) film to reach the US — about a call girl who accidentally gets struck by a bullet only to awaken with the ability to understand foreign languages and complex mathematical formulas and a container housing the finger of the American president. Odd indeed…

Opens in New York (official site).

“Hair High”

In an industry in which 2D animation is nearly unseen while talking animals ride surfboards or tap dance and learn “valuable lessons,” thank goodness there’s still room for Bill Plympton. Transferring his usual whacked-out weirdness and usual sense of humor from short form to feature, the legendary animator’s latest details what happens when a 1950s teenage couple is murdered on prom night only to return one year later for revenge.

Opens in Los Angeles (official site).

“Hearts of an Empire”

This debut feature from documentarian Jay Thompson follows the adventures of the “Fighting 501st,” a group of devoted Star Wars fanboys numbering in the thousands who willingly dress up as famous Star Wars characters despite public ridicule. While the “Fighting 501st” mostly remain loyal fans of the George Lucas series, the group also uses their popularity to sponsor charity events and raise international attention of the Star Wars universe.

Opens in Madison, Wisconsin (official site).

“Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis”

Beloved by John Waters, Andy Warhol and Stefan Brecht, Jack Smith was an otherwise little-known performance artist whose works predated many of his successors and frequently influenced Fellini, Godard and Jarmusch. In Mary Jordan’s mesmerizing documentary portrait of Smith, the artist’s works are shown through archival footage of his multi-hour one-man theatrical productions, highlighting the vast energy and creativity of this rarely-known master.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Lonely Hearts”

The past year’s neo-noirs haven’t kept our interest. After watching both “The Black Dahlia” and “Hollywoodland” squander their A-list cast on mediocre thrills, our hopes aren’t too high for this latest, which finds Jared Leto (fashionxcore!) and Salma Hayek playing 1940smurderous lovers who lure their victims through personal ads. Naturally, there are two homicide detectives (John Travolta and James Gandolfini) hot on their trail. Early reviews suggest that the often bounced-around film would be better suited to a straight-to-DVD release, which, you know, is never a good sign. Director Todd Robinson’s grandfather was one of the cops who investigated the original murders.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Pathfinder”

You know, Vikings get a bad rap in film (“The 13th Warrior,” anyone?), so we’re not surprised that this latest B-action/adventure flick portrays them as barbarians ripped like steroid-using pro wrestlers (or, er, Spartans?). This film stars “The Lord of the Rings”‘ Eomer and comes courtesy of the director of the remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” but shares its unfortunate title with a Nissan SUV.

Opens wide (official site).

“Perfect Stranger”

After reading the synopsis for this film, we think they should have renamed it “To Catch a Predator,” but too late now. If the thought of Halle Berry getting all steamy with Bruce Willis via the Internet turns you on, then this erotic thriller is for you — Berry plays an investigative reporter snooping out the secret dealings of Willis’ shady businessman. It’s hard to believe that this film comes courtesy of the director of “Glengarry Glen Ross,” but at least it’s not about this guy.
Opens wide (official site).

“Private Fears in Public Places”

The latest from influential French director Alain Resnais follows a group of six Parisians who attempt to find love within the city of romance.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Redline”

“The Fast and the Furious-er.” Or is it “The Fast-est and the Furious”? Eh, well, we’re pretty sure you get what we’re going for. Stunt coordinator Andy Cheng’s film aims for slick and fast pacing under a shoestring budget as four race car drivers speed off to Las Vegas in order to claim a million dollar prize. And for those of you who care, “Redline” features the personal exotic car collection of producer Daniel Sadek (minus the Ferrari crashed by star Eddie Griffin), so there’s a positive.

Opens wide (official site).

“Red Road”

A woman working as a CCTV operator encounters a man from her past she never wanted to see again. The winner of the BAFTA Scotland category, this film draws parallels from everything from Hitchcock to “Spider” and comes courtesy of short film director and Academy Award-winner Andrea Arnold.

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

“Slow Burn”

We still have no idea why this film from “The Art of War” screenwriter Wally Beach is getting a theatrical release, but bear with us as this nearly four-year-old flick (it was filmed in 2003) finally sees the light of day. Ray Liotta stars as district attorney Ford Cole (only in the movies…) who’s embroiled in a tense showdown between gangleader LL Cool J and the assistant DA Jolene Blalock as he eyes a shot at a mayoral candidacy.

Opens wide (official site).

“Year of the Dog”

We’ve loved Mike White since he wrote indie darling “Chuck & Buck,” so it’s no surprise that we’re excited for his directorial debut. Add in some Molly Shannon, John C. Reilley and a dead beagle named Pencil and you’ve got something to look forward to. Shannon stars as a secretary whose life changes unexpectedly after her dog dies. Expect some seriously depressing moments, but given it’s a romantic comedy, it’s all gonna be okay in the end…right?

Opens in limited release (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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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.”

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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.