DID YOU READ

The week’s critic wrangle: “Interview.”

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Versus.
We’ve yet to figure out what people actually think of Theo Van Gogh as a filmmaker — murdered by an Islamic extremist in 2004, the Dutch provocateur is best known as an uneasy martyr for free speech, one who was fond of inflammatory public statements, among them frequently referring to Muslims as geitenneukers: goat-fuckers. Only three of his films are available here on DVD, and two of those, the cynic in us feel obliged to point out, were released after his well-publicized death. This Steve Buscemi-directed remake of his 2003 "Interview" is the most exposure a Van Gogh film has received in the US; two more remakes are due to follow, with John Turturro and Stanley Tucci each stepping up to take the reigns.

"Buscemi’s talky, stagey ‘Interview’… doesn’t make much of a case for [Van Gogh] as an important or original artist," writes Andrew O’Hehir at Salon. Michael Koresky at indieWIRE counters that "while Van Gogh’s legacy as a controversial, anti-establishment, anticlerical thinker could be better benefited than from this puff piece in disguise, ‘Interview’ does provide director/leading man Buscemi and Sienna Miller with a dirty little playground on which to cavort and chew scenery."

The main observation being made about the film, which is essentially a two-character piece taking place in a Manhattan apartment, seems to be that Sienna Miller, playing a supposedly vapid soap star, turns out a surprisingly good performance. Nathan Rabin at the Onion AV Club lauds her "bewitchingly physical performance," while acknowledging that "the film never convincingly explains why Miller doesn’t just kick her sour, belligerent interrogator out, except perhaps for a stubborn unwillingness to let the ‘interview’ end until she’s secured a distinct moral victory." Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly declares that the film should lay to rest "any doubts as to whether Sienna Miller is a gifted actress," and that it’s "a fierce and resonant tribute" to Van Gogh. David Edelstein at New York, positively enchanted by the film, calls her "a stupendous actress," and adds that "Good writers, good directors, good actors, know the change of beat is the pulse of any scene. Buscemi is a brilliant writer, director, and actor, and each beat in Interview is crystalline."

Manohla Dargis at the New York Times notes the film’s "obvious drift, the sham setup, the dubious details (surely a tabloid
favorite would drape her windows more carefully) and the dreariness of
the digital- video colors and tones," but still finds plenty of worth in both performances:

Mr. Buscemi always steals his scenes with stealth, nibbling where other actors chew and gulp. His evident lack of vanity is its own kind of vanity, one that is well matched by Ms. Miller’s utter confidence. For once, she holds the screen, not just decorates it.

Elsewhere, Nick Schager at Slant acknowledges that the film "doesn’t lead to any particularly astute conclusions" about the relationship between journalists and their celebrity subjects, but that "the two lead performances remain rock solid, and Buscemi’s direction is consistently invigorating." And Jim Ridley at the Village Voice finds that "Interview" is "the least concrete and most artificial of Buscemi’s films," but that it’s fitting: "for these characters, there’s no real life anymore—just a floating acting exercise that shifts from public (Miller nails feigned sincerity to the couple whose restaurant table she commandeers) to private."

+ "Interview" (Sony Pictures Classics)

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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.