Opening This Week: December 7th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: John Cusack in “Grace is Gone,” Weinstein Company, 2007]

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

“The Amateurs”

Michael Traeger’s comedy has been kicking around the festival circuit for the past two years since production completed back in 2004. Jeff Bridges stars as a man in the midst of a midlife crisis who somehow convinces the residents of his small town to band together and make an adult film. Along for the ride are a host of character actors, including Ted Danson, Joe Pantoliano and Tim Blake Nelson.

Opens in Los Angeles and Dallas (official site).


Keira Knightley has become the go-to gal for period pieces, like some sort of younger, present-day Maggie Smith. Knightley reteams with her “Pride & Prejudice” director Joe Wright as the older sister of fledgling writer Briony Tallis, who as a 13-year-old tells a series of lies, accusing her sister’s lover (James McAvoy) of a crime he did not commit, thereby irrevocably changing the courses of all of their lives.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Billy the Kid”

Jennifer Venditti’s debut documentary follows 15-year-old Maine teenager Billy as he responds to a painful childhood, first-time love and his experience as an outsider in his local town. The film premiered earlier this year at the South by Southwest Film Festival where it won the Competition Award and kicked up some dust after a Variety review accused it of staging scenes.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Dirty Laundry”

“The Ski Trip”‘s Maurice Jamal directs this modern-day prodigal son story about a magazine writer who seems to have the perfect life until a family secret brings him face to face with the traditional southern family he hasn’t seen in ten years.

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

“The Golden Compass”

Director Chris Weitz (of “American Pie”) helms this big-screen adaptation of the controversial Philip Pullman children’s novel, rumors of who’s anti-Christian bias gave distributor New Line more PR than it planned for. The film is set in a parallel universe, in which young Lyla Belacqua (newcomer Dakota Blue Richards) journeys to the far north to save her best friend, whom she fears has been kidnapped by a powerful and secret organization. Let’s hope this film stands out as more than just a “Lord of the Rings” clone.

Opens wide (official site).

“Grace is Gone”

Earlier this year at Sundance, the Weinstein Company purchased this Audience Award-winning drama for several million dollars as critics praised star John Cusack for his role as a father who takes his two girls on a road trip to Florida in order to avoid telling them about their mother’s death in Iraq. Frankly, we’re hoping Cusack finally earns a long-awaited Oscar nomination, though with a fall season awash in Iraq dramas, that amount of recognition may be a bit of a long shot.

Opens in limited release (official site).


After this film’s debut at the Toronto International Film Festival in September, we’re pretty sure the term “this year’s ‘Little Miss Sunshine'” will become an annual staple for years to come. From Best Actress hopes for Ellen Page to “Superbad”‘s Michael Cera to currently on-fir screenwriter Diablo Cody, “Juno” is poised to become a favorite at this year’s Academy Awards. Page plays a sarcastic teenage girl (think “Ghost World”‘s Enid with a bit of a baby bump) who gets impregnated by her best friend and decides to put her baby up for adoption by a local childless couple.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Looking for Cheyenne”

Valerie Minetto’s French drama follows Cheyenne, a Parisian journalist, who decides to move to the middle of nowhere after being laid off, leaving behind her lover Sonia. The film premiered at the 2005 Paris Film Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Man in the Chair”

Christopher Plummer acts in one of his best roles in years as a curmudgeon with a penchant for classic Hollywood movies and booze who helps a troubled teenager (Michael Angarano) create a film for a student contest.

Opens in limited release (official site).


British director and Madonna hubby Guy Ritchie finally gets his long completed follow-up to “Swept Away” a stateside release. “Revolver” finds Ritchie returning to his gangster genre roots, re-teaming with “Snatch”‘s Jason Statham as an ex-con and card shark who enters into an alliance with two mysterious men to bring down the gangster (Ray Liotta) responsible for sending him to prison.

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

“The Walker”

“Auto Focus” director Paul Schrader’s latest features an escort (Woody Harrelson) catering to Washington D.C.’s society ladies who becomes involved in a murder case in order to protect his closest client (Kristen Scott Thomas) and her husband from the ensuing investigation. The film premiered earlier this year at the Berlin International Film Festival.

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


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…


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. 


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

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.


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.


Forget Public Wifi

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



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.


Self Defense

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


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