DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: December 27th, 2007 and January 4th, 2008

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Denzel Washington in “The Great Debaters,” MGM, 2007]

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

“Alien vs. Predator: Requiem”

The eternal question of “who would win in a fight, an alien or a predator” wasn’t quite answered the first time around, clearing the way for this second chance to watch our favorite ’80s sci-fi creatures (sorry, gremlins) duke it out at the expense of the human race. We don’t expect gold from a movie about warring franchises, here’s hoping this sequel might be better, since original director Paul W.S. Anderson had no hand in its making.

Opens wide December 25th (official site).

“A Bloody Aria”

This South Korean thriller from director Shin-yeon Won tracks a womanizing college professor who suspects a group of dangerous youths of killing a student he attempted to seduce.

Opens in limited release on January 4th (official site).

“The Bucket List”

Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson team up in this geriatric buddy comedy about two terminally ill cancer patients who head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die. We’re a little miffed to learn that this film, directed by Rob Reiner (really?), has been receiving a number of strong reviews, even earning a spot on the National Board of Review’s best films of 2007. (Again, really?)

Opens in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto on December 25th (official site).

“Chuck Close”

The late filmmaker Marion Cajori’s final film chronicles the career of painter Chuck Close, popularly known as the re-inventor of portraiture. Close’s subjects — family, friends, artists — offer insight into his work and Close’s influence on their own. Cajori passed away shortly after completion of the film in 2006.

Opens in New York on December 26th (official site).

“The Great Debaters”

Denzel Washington directs and stars in this inspirational teacher movie about a professor at an all-African-American college in Texas who leads his underdog debate team into a competition with Harvard in 1935. With a strong supporting turn by Forest Whitaker, plus Oprah Winfrey as one of the film’s producers, we’re pretty sure this film will make a whole bunch of noise come Oscar season. Sure, we’ve seen Washington play similar roles recently (we certainly remember the “Titans”), we’ve no problem watching him do it again.

Opens wide on December 25th (official site).

“Honeydripper”

John Sayles’ latest Southern-set drama is about a club owner (Danny Glover) who attempts to pass off a vagrant as a famous guitar player one night in his club in hopes of saving himself from bankruptcy. The film went on to win the best screenplay award at the San Sebastian International Film Festival earlier this year.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 28th (official site).

“The Killing of John Lennon”

It appears that 2008 will feature competing Mark David Chapman projects, as the man who killed John Lennon is the subject of dueling biopics in the new year. First up is this one, an indie from television director Andrew Piddington that features relative newcomer Jonas Bell in the role of the assassin. Much of the film’s dialogue is lifted directly from Chapman’s real-life journal, allowing the viewer to get into the mind of a murderer who killed for fame.

Opens in New York on January 2nd (official site).

“One Missed Call”

2008 starts off slowly with this J-horror remake of the Takashi Miike film “Chakushin ari” featuring Shannyn Sossamon and Edward Burns doing battle against dark forces responsible for victims getting voice mail messages from their future selves detailing the time of their deaths. Our favorite line of 2008 so far? “That’s not my ring tone.” Sounds like a horror masterpiece in the making.

Opens wide on January 4th (official site).

“The Orphanage”

These days we get excited about anything Guillermo del Toro is involved in. The “Pan’s Labyrinth” director had a strong hand in bringing to life this Spanish horror import about a woman who starts to get concerned about her son’s new imaginary friends. Borrowing elements from other “creepy children” horror films such as “The Others” and del Toro’s own “The Devil’s Backbone” certainly should bolster the suspense.

Opens in limited release on December 28th (official site).

“Persepolis”

Comic book artist Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographical graphic novels detail life in Iran during the Islamic revolution from the perspective of a young and precocious girl. After winning the Grand Jury Prize earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival, her directorial debut made numerous headlines after being banned from both the Bangkok International Film Festival and Satrapi’s homeland of Iran despite being one of the best received movies of the year.

Opens in limited release on December 25th (official site).

“There Will Be Blood”

Daniel Day-Lewis alone has us bubbling with anticipation. But the teaming of our favorite method actor with the not-prolific-enough director Paul Thomas Anderson for a film inspired by Upton Sinclair’s novel “Oil!” leaves us positively verklempt. The film already has won a slew of awards, been on a number of top ten lists and topped this year’s indieWIRE critics’ poll, and while we can’t predict whether Day-Lewis will add a second Oscar to his mantle, we’re sure he’ll at least get a nomination. Kudos to Anderson for stepping out of his comfort zone with what originated as a writing experiment for the director after coming across Sinclair’s novel.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles on December 26th (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.