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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: April 6th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Richard Gere in “The Hoax,” Miramax Films, 2007]

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

“Are We Done Yet”?

The follow-up to Ice Cube’s 2005 family comedy “Are We There Yet?” finds our second-favorite former N.W.A. member married and living in suburbia with the same two kids who bothered him in the first film. After moving into a new house, Cube must battle with an eccentric contractor (the irascible John C. McGinley, most well-known for his role as Dr. Cox in “Scrubs”). What began as a remake of Cary Grant comedy “Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House” unfortunately turned into yet another bland family comedy sequel, but really, we weren’t expecting much to begin with.

Opens wide (official site).

“Black Book”

Paul Verhoeven’s American filmmaking career wasn’t all that bad (who can forget the three-boobed alien from “Total Recall” and Peter Weller’s death scene in the beginning of “RoboCop”?), but he’s suffered after “Showgirls.” We’re excited to see Verhoeven return to his homeland for his latest picture, a WWII-based drama about a Jewish singer’s fight for survival. “Black Book” has won critical acclaim for the Dutch filmmaker and even served as the Dutch entry for this past year’s Academy Awards — not bad for a former Razzie winner.

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

“Firehouse Dog”

Spuds McKenzie + firehouse + kids = this. Maybe something good will come out of “this,” as the premise was quirky enough for “Wonderfalls” co-creator and TV veteran Todd Holland, but really, we miss nagging toy animals.

Opens wide (official site).

“Grindhouse”

What’s there to say about this Quentin Tarantino-Robert Rodriguez mash-up that hasn’t already been said? All we can add is that we’re excited as hell for this double billing of two of the most influential filmmakers of the 21st century. Though Rodriguez and Tarantino shot to fame in the mid 90s as directors of “cool” cinema (the Mariachi trilogy and “Pulp Fiction,” most notably), this collaboration cites the B-movies of the exploitation yesteryears. Plus, Rose McGowan has a machine gun for a leg — how cool is that?

Opens wide (official site).

“The Hoax”

We didn’t expect to get excited about a film directed by Lasse Hallstrom (ho-hum) and starring Richard Gere, but when that film tells the story of fraudulent author Clifford Irving, what’s not to get excited about? Gere reportedly does some of his best acting in years in this film festival favorite about an author whose “official” biography of reclusive millionaire Howard Hughes turns out to be bogus, leading to one of the biggest media frenzies in history. Marcia Gay Harden and Alfred Molina co-star as Irving’s wife and collaborator, respectively.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Reaping”

We’re trying to ignore the irony of the fact that production of this film was interrupted by Hurricane Katrina. This religious-themed thriller from genre director Stephen Hopkins finds a former Christian missionary inspecting a town suffering from supernatural occurrences similar to the Biblical plagues. Hilary Swank’s genre pictures generally seem to strike out, and, considering the way this one sounds like a bad M. Night Shyamalan pitch, we’re not expecting much.

Opens wide (official site).

“The TV Set”

Director Jake Kasdan may be more well-known for his filmmaking family (father Lawrence wrote the fifth and sixth “Star Wars” films) than his own career (the quirky “Zero Effect” and studio comedy dud “Orange County”), but his latest film offers some promise as it tracks an idealistic writer trying to navigate his TV pilot through the madness of the television industry. We love the idea of Sigourney Weaver as a headstrong network president.

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

“Whole New Thing”

“The Fishing Trip” director Annon Buchbinder’s latest film has been making the festival rounds since its premiere at Toronto in 2005, garnering a series of awards, including a win at the Commonwealth Film Festival and a Genie Award nomination (Canadian Oscars, eh). The film tells the story of a former home schooled middle school student who develops a crush on his gay English teacher when he’s enrolled at his local high school.

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.