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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: April 23rd, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Jindabyne,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2007]

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

“The Condemned”

Snag the plot from “Battle Royale,” subtract whatever social commentary there was attached and pump the film full of steroids and you have “The Condemned,” the latest from WWE owner Vince McMahon’s fledgling film company. Last fall’s “The Marine” proved to be an enjoyable throwback to the action films of the Reagan era, though… still an awful film. We’re just hoping wrestler Steve Austin delivers a fatal Stone Cold Stunner. That would be bad ass.

Opens wide (official site).

“Diggers”

It’s no doubt that a comedy about clam diggers from Lawn Guy Land can only come from actor/writer Ken Marino, former member of MTV’s “The State.” If you miss this film in theaters, though, don’t worry — it’s getting a DVD release only a few short days later on May 1. The film stars Lauren Ambrose, Paul Rudd, and Ron Eldard and is directed by “A Good Baby”‘s Katherine Dieckmann.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Invisible”

So this film is totally, like, “The Sixth Sense,” but, like, the twist is, we KNOW the guy’s already dead! We were hoping for something better from director (and “Batman Begins” writer) David S. Goyer. “War of the Worlds”‘s Justin Chatwin stars as a high school teenager who, following his death, fails to cross over to the afterlife and must find his killer to help his frustrated mother (Marcia Gay Harden) cope with his death.

Opens wide (official site).

“Jindabyne”

It’s been roughly six years since the release of the Australian thriller “Lantana,” so we’re pleased to see director Ray Lawrence return with another film with roiling depths beneath a troubled surface. Three men on a fishing trip discover the body of a dead girl and wait until they return home to report their findings, shocking their families and scandalizing the community. The film won a slew of awards in Lawrence’s native Australia, so we’re expecting the film to be well-received domestically upon its release. Gabriel Byrne and Laura Linney co-star.

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

“Kickin’ It Old School”

Yes, Jamie Kennedy movies continue to get greenlit. The movie sounds like “13 Going on 30,” except Jamie Kennedy is less charming than Jennifer Garner. A young boy in the mid 1980s suffers a breakdancing accident and lapses into a coma before waking 20 years later looking to revive his breakdancing career.

Opens wide (official site).

“Next”

Nicolas Cage appears to be continuing his streak of subpar films this week with an adaptation of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick’s short story “The Golden Man” that, as with most feature film adaptations of Dick’s writing, bears only slight resemblance to its source material. Cage plays a Las Vegas magician with the ability to see two minutes into the future, drawing the attention of an FBI agent (Julianne Moore) trying to help prevent a future terrorist attack. The thought of Cage wooing film girlfriend Jessica Biel is less than believable, but at least director Lee Tamahori is back to work, hopefully in men’s clothing this time.

Opens wide (official site).

“Poison Friends”

Emmanuel Bourdieu’s drama recounts what happens when a group of college students befriend (and are betrayed) by a pathological liar; left in the wake of their friend’s abandonment, the others must deal with the aftereffects. “Poison Friends” was the opening film at last year’s Cannes International Critics` Week and was an official selection at last year’s New York Film Festival.

Opens in New York (offical site).

“Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace”

The type of film that only exists in indie-land, “Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” (that title!) details what happens when a group of former college a cappella singers reunites to perform at a friend’s wedding fifteen years later. The film comes courtesy of frequent “Mad TV” director Bruce Leddy.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Snow Cake”

We’re glad to see Alan Rickman back in dramatic roles after years as our favorite Hogwarts professor, but we do fear any film’s “I Am Sam” sensibilities. Rickman stars as a grief-stricken man who befriends the autistic mother (Sigourney Weaver) of a woman killed in a fatal car wreck.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Ta Ra Rum Pum”

An Indian American family is heartbroken after the father’s racing career ends in a debilitating accident. In order to make a living, the family moves to a poor inner city neighborhood and the father takes up a new job as a taxi driver, leaving his need for speed behind.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Triad Election”

Picked up two years after 2005’s “Election,” Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To’s follow-up describes what happens when current Triad chairman Lok (Simon Yam) seeks re-election despite competition, while Jimmy (Louis Koo) looks to leave the gang for legitimate business relations on mainland China. To’s film screened out of competition at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and the director recently was honored as Filmmaker in Focus at the 2007 Rotterdamn Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Wind Chill”

Emily Blunt’s post-“The Devil Wears Prada” career begins with this horror film about a couple of college students who become stranded on a stretch of road with a deadly history. This horror flick comes courtesy of “Criminal” director Gregory Jacob and “Shadow of the Vampire” writer Steven Katz.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Zoo”

What started off as a sensationalist tabloid story slowly turned into an exposé on the nature of sexual taboos and human nature in director Robinson Devor’s documentary on the death of Seattle family man Kenneth Pinyon, who died as a result of injuries he sustained while engaging in sex with a horse. The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Opens in New York (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.