This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


The week’s critic wrangle: “Waitress,” “Away From Her.”

Posted by on

+ "Waitress": What would have happened if Adrienne Shelly‘s final film were a stinker? Most likely, it would have managed only a negligible release, and most critics would have been able to avert their gaze and avoid trashing the work of the recently murdered. Fortunately, "Waitress" is good, or at least good enough, slender and sweet-natured enough to attract reviews ranging from glowing to ruefully approving. "Waitress is a wee romantic charmer, a delectable Dixie screwball romp that never loses its spry sense of discovery," writes Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly, adding that "the movie is always high-spirited, but it’s also wistful, sexy, and melancholy." A.O. Scott at the New York Times goes on:

It is not so much that Ms. Shelly has banished realism from her story, but rather that she has tamed and shaped it, finding a perfect, difficult-to-achieve balance of enchantment and plausibility. The story, in which resilience is rewarded, and meanness is banished, is comforting without feeling unduly sentimental, thanks to its mood of easygoing, tolerant honesty.

Scott also points out that the extramarital affair between Keri Russell‘s Jenna and Nathan Fillion‘s Dr. Pomatter is "a rare example of movie adultery (he’s married too) without punishment or apology, and it works because both actors are so darn likable."

Stephanie Zacharek at Salon allows that "it takes a while for this ultimately sweet little picture to find its footing: At first, it’s all a bit too sweet." Eventually, though "[t]he picture’s off-kilter rhythms ultimately keep it from being too treacly, and its spirit of optimistic negativity doesn’t hurt, either." Nathan Lee at the Village Voice has some elegantly phrased concerns about the film’s set up ("Could someone pass me the barf bucket?") but is pleasantly surprised: "Waitress makes palatable everything repellent about American independent movies of the Sundance smash type. There’s a fine line between crowd-pleaser and crime against cinema, and to my mind this guileless romcom largely stays the course." At the LA Weekly, Ella Taylor finds the film less memorable than the lurid real-life events that preceded its release, but does like how, "[w]ashed in a honeyed 1950s glow, Waitress has a mildly puckish way with outlandish baked goods and pert dialogue." At Slant, Ed Gonzalez is lukewarm on the film, but does writes that though "Predictably scripted, the film also impresses with its flurry of very funny one-liners and excellent performances, from Andy Griffith as Old Joe to Shelly herself as a waitress who works at the man’s pie diner."

"Because the movie is so hit-and-miss," muses David Edelstein at New York, "I kept getting thrown out of it and returning to thoughts of its maker—of what must have been her busy inner life, her evident joy in making movies, and her potential, down the road, to develop an authentic American voice and make wonderful screwball farces." Dana Stevens at Slate writes that:

Waitress is, by any reasonable standard, a fairly mediocre movie. But the two facts, that of Shelly’s death and of the movie’s release, are inextricable from one another; there’s no way to separate them from each other, and no reason to. When you watch Waitress, you’re also watching a meta-movie about Shelly’s brutal end, and the spirit that bursts from every corner of this overcrowded movie is so genuinely warm that trashing it feels like panning a so-so baton-twirling performance at the church talent show.

Keith Phipps at the Onion AV Club expresses similar sentiments: "It’s an imperfect film, but it’s the kind of imperfect film of which it would be nice to have seen Shelly make more."


The spark of life.+ "Away From Her": Actress Sarah Polley makes an unconventional directorial debut for a 20-something in this story of a marriage in its twilight (and Alzheimer’s-beset) years. Our thoughts from Sundance are here; the critics are universally fond, verging on ecstatic with regards to Julie Christie‘s performance and still-luminous beauty. "Polley’s got a devastating hook in her crystalline feature debut ‘Away from Her,’" writes Michael Koresky at indieWIRE. "[A]s Christie’s Alzheimer’s-afflicted Fiona slowly slips away from her husband Grant (Gordon Pinsent), she’s also gradually fading from us, viewers, lovers of her vivaciousness, her glamour that never overshadowed her wisdom." Armond White at the New York Press adds that "Away From Her expands from its tragic tearjerker basis to be a movie
about the complexity of love and passion and sacrifice. Fiona and
Gordon’s story is scaled for modest, realistic effect, but Christie
makes it fascinating, almost mythic."

At New York, David Edelstein sums the film up as "a twilight-of-life love story, one that harshly demolishes our romantic notions of love and loyalty, then replaces them with something deeper and, finally, more consoling." "With little camera movement or assertive music, Polley creates a portrait that might be dubbed Scenes From a Marriage‘s End (the bearded Grant even resembling Erland Josephson)," observes Nick Schager at Slant.

Tasha Robinson at the Onion AV Club likes the film but is less prone to "mostly, it’s a subdued, well-shot character study that observes rather than dictates emotions." Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly has mild complaints about the adaptation, which expands on an Alice Munro short story: "The story now jigs forward and back, the nursing-home scenes have been expanded and quiver with somber concern, and Marian is quite another kind of woman off the page — someone softer, and more movie-friendly. Munro’s stark lily needed none of this gilding." A. O. Scott at the New York Times would disagree: "Ms. Polley’s triumph is to have preserved, and enriched, the individuality that Ms. Munro breathes into her characters."



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

Posted by on
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.”


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. 


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.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

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…


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.


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 ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

Posted by on
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?”


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).



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.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.