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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: August 24th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Samuel L. Jackson in “Resurrecting the Champ,” Yari Film Group Releasing, 2007]

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

“Closing Escrow”

Three eccentric families hoping to buy a home collide when they each decide they want the same house in this mockumentary by newbie director Armen Kaprelian. The film premiered earlier at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival in Las Vegas.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Dedication”

Indie fave actor Justin Theroux steps behind the camera in “Dedication,” which goes the Woody Allen route (though perhaps a bit more frantic) in this New York-based romance about a misogynistic children’s book author (an unlikable Billy Crudup, which we totally believe) and an untested illustrator (a highly mascara-ed Mandy Moore) who begin to fall in love shortly after being paired to work together. Theroux’s directorial debut features a soundtrack out of Zach Braff’s wet dreams, including music by Deerhoof, Cat Power, The Stokes and more.

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

“Deep Water”

The producers of 2003’s “Touching the Void” present a documentary that takes a look back to 1968, when a collection of nine men competed in a nautical journey to see who the first would be to circle the globe. The story focuses on one particular competitor, Donald Crowhurst, who eventually would go missing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

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

“Hannah Takes the Stairs”

“LOL” director Joe Swanberg co-wrote his new feature about a recent college graduate (Greta Gerwig) who embarks on relationships with two coworkers (“Mutual Appreciation” director Andrew Bujalski and Kent Osborne) while hoping to keep her friendships intact. The movie was a hit earlier at this year’s South by Southwest Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Illegal Tender”

Violence is the name of the game in this urban thriller from punctuated “Empire” creator Franc. Reyes. A young Latino man (Rick Gonzalez) learns from his mother (Wanda De Jesus) the true nature of his murdered father’s past while on the run from a crime boss’s henchmen. The film was produced by “urban thriller” king John Singleton.

Opens wide (official site).

“Mr. Bean’s Holiday”

We don’t really understand why the original “Mr. Bean” film deserved a sequel, but hey, that’s what late August is for, right? Destined to be forgettable, this sequel finds the beloved Rowan Atkinson character traveling to France when one of his video diaries somehow winds up as a world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Truly a premise only a film school graduate could dream of.

Opens wide (official site).

“Resurrecting the Champ”

Samuel L. Jackson gets all homeless in this new sportsish drama from “The Contender” director Rod Lurie. A young newspaper reporter (Josh Hartnett, who badly needs a hit… er, not of drugs) encounters a homeless man (Jackson) who used to be a renown boxer and who many believed was dead.

Opens wide (official site).

“Right At Your Door”

A dirty bomb goes off in Los Angeles, jamming freeways and spreading a toxic cloud in this indie apocalyptic thriller from Hollywood vet Chris Gorak.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“September Dawn”

Finally, an honest and respectful film about September 11th…1857, that is. A group of settlers en route to California encounter a Mormon sect in Utah and are slaughtered for religious purposes in this fictional take on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The film finds itself in a storm of controversy on both sides, while we wonder if there’s a role somewhere out there that Jon Voight won’t take.

Opens wide (official site).

“The Hottest State”

Ethan Hawke directs, writes and stars in his latest directorial feature, based on one of his earliest novels about a struggling young actor (Mark Webber) who crisscrosses the country in pursuit of an elusive musician (“Maria Full of Grace”‘s Catalina Sandino Moreno, who really needs to be in more). Early reviews of the film have been somewhat negative, as critics claim Hawke fails to get the best out of his performers, who play characters who are mostly unlikable. Ouch.

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

“The Nanny Diaries”

Poised for a release earlier this spring, this film was pushed back to fall by the Weinstein Company due of Oscar hopes, only to be settled into a late August release because, well, we’re guessing someone actually watched it. Guessing that both Brittany Murphy and Kate Hudson were unavailable, directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (of “American Splendor”) settled on Scarlett Johansson to play the college student who goes to work as a nanny for a rich New York family. Main reason to see the film? Laura Linney as the uptight Mrs. X, who we bet steals every scene.

Opens wide (official site).

“War”

Jet Li plays baddie while Jason Statham seeks revenge in this no-nonsense (or all-nonsense) action thriller directed by music video vet Philip G. Atwell.

Opens wide (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.