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Opening This Week: “Be Kind Rewind,” “The Counterfeiters,” more.

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02182008_bekindrewind.jpgBy Neil Pedley

If last week’s avalanche of Valentine’s Day-inspired fare forced you to spend the week alone in your apartment like yours truly — eating ramen noodles in the dark and crying — then take heart. This week is a fresh slate of brand new movies with nary a rom-com in sight.

“Be Kind Rewind”

If a million monkeys sat at a million typewriters for a million years, they might out something like the storyline for this film. When Jerry (Jack Black) unwittingly erases every tape in the video store at which his friend Mike (Mos Def) works, the two decide to recreate the movies themselves with a camcorder in hopes the customers won’t notice. Given that this is the brainchild of writer/director Michel Gondry, the man behind such mindbenders as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Science of Sleep,” you get the feeling that this was little more than an excuse for all involved to have a bit of a giggle.

Opens wide.

“Charlie Bartlett”
Charlie Bartlett is a mischievous schemer who’s been kicked out of one private school too many and is banished to – gasp
public high school, where he sets up a bathroom stall counseling
service for the school’s lost and lonely, handing out sage advice in
one hand and pills from his psychiatrist in the other. Anton Yelchin,
last seen in “Alpha Dog,” stars as the titular character in this comedy
aiming to be a Ferris Bueller for the Prozac generation.

Opens wide.

“The Counterfeiters”
Austria’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2007
Academy Awards, “The Counterfeiters” is a fictionalized dramatization
of Operation Bernhard, a secret Nazi plan to destabilize the allied
economy by flooding England and the U.S with thousands of forged
banknotes. Told in flashback, the film centers on Salomon Sorowitsch, a
master counterfeiter who’s arrested and imprisoned by the Nazis, who
indoctrinate him into working for their cause. In German with subtitles.

Opens in limited release.

Watching the trailer for “Cover,” it’s difficult to shake the notion
that this was a direct-to-video title that was somehow mislabeled and
sent out to a theater. C-list legend Bill Duke, who moonlights as a
go-to goon character actor, steps behind the camera to direct this tale
of marital infidelity and betrayal starring Aunjanue Ellis as a devoted wife implicated in a murder, only to
discover her husband, Dutch (Razaaq Adoti) has been leading a double
life. Louis Gossett Jr. kills some time waiting for “Iron Eagle
V” as the dogged police detective determined to uncover the
Opens in limited release.

“The Duchess of Langeais”
Set in 19th century Paris at the time of the restoration, this period
drama is brought to us courtesy of 80-year-old director Jacques
Rivette, the man Truffaut credited with birthing the French New Wave
movement. He breathes new life into the Balzac novella about
Antoinette, a married noblewoman who schemes her way into the heart
of the dashing general Montriveau, whom she ultimately drives to
madness. The humiliated general seeks his revenge, only for Antoinette
to realize that her best laid plans may have cost her true love and
more. In French with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Passing Poston”
Documentarians Joe Fox and James Nubile present the stories of four former
internees of the Poston Relocation Center, the largest of ten
Japanese-American internment camps during World
War II. The film’s focus is Ruth Okimoto, a future artist who was
forcibly moved to Poston with her family at the age of six, who journeys
back to the now derelict and abandoned camp, searching for answers as
to how such a thing could be allowed to come to pass.
Opens in New York.

“The Signal”
Told from three different perspectives by three different directors who
apparently had no idea what the others were doing, “The Signal” is
essentially three mini-movies loosely strung together: a thriller, a
black comedy and a romantic mystery, all detailing the fallout of a
mysterious transmission that invades the airwaves and turns ordinary
people into crazed killers. Written and directed by David Bruckner, Dan
Bush and Jacob Gentry, this low-budget indie horror flick made its
debut at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, and a quick scan of the
credits tells you everything you need to know — there are dozens of
people credited with roles like “Screaming Man,” “Deranged People”
and “Random Bodies.”
Opens in limited release

“Vantage Point”
Perhaps the only thing more pervasive than the possible conspiracy in
this intricate and elaborate high-concept thriller is the film’s
trailer, which has seemingly played in front of every movie at the
multiplexes for months. The gist:
Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox star as a secret service agents charged
with protecting the president (William Hurt) during a terrorism summit
on Spanish soil. When an assassination attempt occurs, the two must
sort through video evidence and piece together the events with, among
others, an American tourist (Forest Whitaker) and a TV news producer
(Sigourney Weaver). Naturally, nothing is what it appears to be. We’re hoping the same is true of the film as a whole, which reminds us
of Brian De Palma’s distinctly arse “Snake Eyes.”

Opens wide.

“Witless Protection”
Suffice to say this looks about as funny as a trip to
the dentist for a root canal. (Hey, now there’s an idea for Larry the
Cable Guy’s next movie…) The Blue Collar Comedy alum
stars as a Mississippi deputy who mistakes a federal witness for a kidnap victim and must dodge corrupt FBI agents and mob guys to usher
her safely to Chicago. This smut-spattered toilet-humor adventure comes complete with support from Eric Roberts, who, it seems, is no longer content with making music video cameos.
Opens wide.

[Photo: “Be Kind Rewind,” ©New Line, 2008]



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.”


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. 


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.


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.