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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: September 21, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Emile Hirsch in “Into The Wild,” Paramount Vantage, 2007]

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

“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”

This coming Oscar season is looking to be a good one for co-stars Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, though director Andrew Dominik (“Chopper”) may have had a hard time getting this rather arty Western to the big screens. Pitt recently won the Best Actor award at Venice, while Affleck also plays the leading role in brother Ben’s heavily buzzed-about directorial debut, while Dominik…well, we’re not quite sure this is still his movie after reports that director Ridley Scott stepping in to fiddle with it. And maybe it’s just us, but do all Westerns nowadays need homoerotic undertones? Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Beauty Remains”

“Shadow Magic” director Ann Hu returns for her sophomore effort, this Qingdao-set post-WWII drama about two sisters whose lives become complicated by their late father’s business interests and the shared love of an ex-boxer.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Good Luck Chuck”

You know it’s bad when a film looks like Adam Sandler passed on it — where’s Rob Schneider when you need him? “Comedian” Dane Cook stars as a man who must break the curse that has made him wildly popular with single women (bed Dane and you find your true love!) in order to be with the women of his (and our) dreams. This film presents itself like a Maxim magazine on screen: Jessica Alba panty shots and lots of dude humor. We think it’s safe to say that Dan Fogler is going to be the best part of this one.

Opens wide (official site).

“Into the Wild”

Over a decade after his death, debate still rages on over the lasting legacy of 24-year-old Christopher McCandless, a college graduate turned drifter after becoming sick of his middle class life. McCandless journeyed to Arizona, California, South Dakota and to his final resting place in the Alaskan wilderness. Early buzz so far consists of praise for both director Sean Penn and actor Emile Hirsch, who churns out a career-making performance as the increasingly distant McCandless. Penn assembles an ace supporting cast including Vince Vaughn, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Catherine Keener and Hal Holbrook. The Academy is gonna eat this one up.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Jane Austen Book Club”

Robin Swicord, known mostly for writing female-friendly films like “Memoirs of a Geisha” and “Practical Magic,” directs her first feature film, an adaptation of the popular Karen Jay Fowler book about a group of six women who begin a book club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to realize that their lives mirror Austen’s protagonists. Honestly, we’d rather just get our Austen fix from “Clueless.”

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Last Winter”

Horror director Larry Fessenden, last seen with 2001’s “Wendigo,” directs this thriller about an oil company team of researchers who slowly go mad after one member is found dead. Ron Perlman, James Le Gros and “Friday Night Lights”‘s Connie Britton and Zach Gilford star.

Opens in New York (official site).

“The Man of My Life”

French director Zabou Breitman’s gay-themed drama finds a husband and wife divided by the husband’s new friendship with his gay neighbor. The film premiered at last year’s Toronto Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Randy and the Mob”

Oscar-winner Ray McKinnon directs this Southern-set comedy about a good ol’ boy (McKinnon) who gets into trouble with some mobsters and then must seek assistant from his estranged, identical twin gay brother (also McKinnon). “The Shield”‘s Walter Goggins and Lisa Blount co-star.

Opens in Atlanta (official site.

“Resident Evil: Extinction”

Australian director Russell Mulcahy, last seen with 2003’s “Swimming Upstream,” returns from television director obscurity to helm the third (and hopefully final) film based on the popular video game franchise. Milla Jovovich returns as Alice in a film that, we’re pretty sure, no longer at all resembles the video games it was based on. Is, er, Nemesis in this one? We might just skip the movie altogether and play Resident Evil 4 for the weekend.

Opens wide (official site).

“Sydney White”

“Sleepover” director Joe Nussbaum helms this modern retelling of Snow White set against the college greek system. Amanda Bynes stars as Sydney White, who, with the aid of her seven dorks (get it?? subtle!) must do battle against the wicked…head sorority girl in order to become the most popular chick on campus for some reason. Expect “Sydney White” to be available on DVD by the time you finish reading this sentence.

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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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.”

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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.