DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: December 21st, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Aaron Stanford and Zooey Deschanel in “Flakes,” IFC First Take, 2007]

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

“Charlie Wilson’s War”

Honestly, we wish we were a bit more excited about this project than we actually are. Mike Nichols returns to lighter fare after the solid “Closer,” while writer Aaron Sorkin attempts to recover from the debacle that was “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.” Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts and Philip Seymour Hoffman playing politics? No National Board of Review lovin’ will make this look any better to us.

Opens wide (official site).

“Flakes”

Clothing designer Zooey Deschanel teams up with aspiring rock musician and cereal bar manager Aaron Stanford after discovering that an entrepreneur has stolen their million dollar idea in this indie comedy from director Michael Lehmann. Forget that Lehmann directed the lame Diane Keaton-Mandy Moore rom-com “Because I Said So” earlier this year and remember his first full-length directorial effort “Heathers,” and you’ll see why we’ll always will give Lehmann another shot. Wait, he also made “Hudson Hawk”? Hoooh boy…

Opens in limited release (official site).

“National Treasure: Book of Secrets”

Nicolas Cage returns as treasure hunter Benjamin Franklin Gates in this action adventure pic that asks you to check your brain at the door. We still don’t know what the appeal of this genre is, but after the original 2004 film made over $150 million domestically without a plot (like Gates, we looked hard for one), it’s no surprise Walt Disney Pictures greenlit another adventure that finds Cage in search of the missing pages of John Wilkes Booth’s diary that may unlock a worldwide conspiracy. Oooh, tension!

Opens wide (official site).

“P.S. I Love You”

Hilary Swank plays a recent widow who discovers love letters written by her recently deceased husband (Gerard Butler, minus the massive muscles) in order to help her move on with her life. We’re suspect this film may qualify as the creepiest romantic drama of the season, but we’re willing to put our trust in this directorial effort from “Fisher King” screenwriter Richard LaGravenese in his second teaming with Swank this year.

Opens wide (official site).

“Steep”

Documentarian Mark Obenhaus traces the legacy of extreme skiing from its early pioneers to the daredevils of today. The film premiered earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”

The classic Stephen Sondheim musical gets the Tim Burton treatment, which means lots of gothic makeup, a flamboyant Johnny Depp and some voluptuous… acting from Helena Bonham Carter. In 19th century London, Benjamin Barker (Depp) opens a barbershop upstairs from the piemaker Mrs. Lovett (Carter) before the two team up for some sinister dealings. Not to give anything away, but expect some macabre humor that can only be directed from the man who brought us “Beetlejuice.” After a decade of hits and misses for the director (“Big Fish” — okay, “Planet of the Apes” — not okay), Burton is getting his strongest reviews yet, and so far he’s nabbed both the National Board of Review award for best director and his first Golden Globe nomination. It’s about time.

Opens wide (official site).

“Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story”

The Apatow gang tackles the über-serious awards genre of the music biopic, as John C. Reilly inhabits the fictional role of music legend Dewey Cox that recently earned the actor a long-deserved and very real Golden Globe nomination. Reilly fits right in alongside the Apatow regulars in this country fried spoof that looks more akin to “Airplane!” than “Scary Movie.” While the film’s first trailer seriously lacked the funny, we still have faith in our boy Judd, who we’re hoping finishes 2007 three for three. Not bad for the smartest man in entertainment.

Opens wide (official site).

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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.