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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: February 8th, 2008

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By Christopher Bonet

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

“A Walk to Beautiful”
Documentarians Mary Olive Smith and Amy Bucher’s first collaborative feature documentary tells the story of five Ethiopian women exiled from their communities after complications during childbirth. As each of these women search out a special hospital in Addis Ababa in order to find a home where they won’t be persecuted for the first time in years, Smith and Bucher’s camera captures their attempts to rebuild their lives. The film premiered at the 2007 San Francisco Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“The Band’s Visit”
Israeli director Erin Kolirin’s debut feature finds a few of Egypt’s finest traveling to Israel to play at the inaugural ceremony of an Arab Culture Center… except they head to the wrong town. The comedy/drama premiered last year at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Un Certain Regard Jury award.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Fool’s Gold”
Matthew McConaughey may have fallen a little out of favor in the leading man department after the colossal failure that was 2005’s “Sahara” (and “Two for the Money” and “Failure to Launch” and… well, you get the idea). But the actor’s latest marks first reunion opposite Kate Hudson since their wildly successful rom-com “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” in 2003. McConaughey plays a treasure hunter whose relationship with his estranged wife (Hudson) is reignited after he discovers the real key to her heart: Spanish gold. Romance!

Opens wide (official site).

“The Hottie & the Nottie”
We’re surprised this indie comedy has neither a National Lampoon’s or direct-to-DVD stamp attached to it. Paris Hilton is the “Hottie” in this comedy that finds the infamous socialite the object of affection of Nate (Joel David Moore), a loser who hopes to woo his childhood love once he figures out what to do with her less-than-attractive best friend. “The Hottie and the Nottie” may have the worst poster of the year to date, questionably pitting Hilton against her deformed best friend. Now that’s just bad taste.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“How to Rob a Bank”
Newbie director Andrew Jenkins’ debut feature visits the worn genre of the “heist film,” though the helmer gets a bit creative with this exhausted concept by posing questions of who is robbing the bank and what are they after. A couple (Nick Stahl and Erika Christensen) find themselves trapped in a vault, with the bank robber (Gavin Rossdale, of Bush fame) stuck on the other side of the door. The film sounds a bit like “Panic Room” meets “The Nine”… in other words, possibly promising. The film premiered last year at the Cannes Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“In Bruges”
While this Sundance opening night film may sound like familiar ground (heist-gone-wrong film with rapid-fire dialogue… just see one item above), we’re still excited about noted playwright-turned-director Martin McDonagh’s debut feature. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson star as a pair of hit men hiding out in Bruges, Belgium, awaiting word from their boss (Ralph Fiennes) after a botched job in London.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“London to Brighton”
Paul Andrew Williams’ inner -ity drama explores underground London culture, tracking a pair of beaten-up prostitutes, a pimp in trouble, and a man left bleeding to death on a bathroom floor. The film won a slew of festival awards in 2006, including the prize for Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Spiral”
For those yearning for a Joel David Moore double feature this week, the lead of “The Hottie and the Nottie” also co-directed and stars as a lonely telemarketer who is brought out of his shell by a new co-worker (Amber Tamblyn) in this indie thriller. Be on the lookout for a brief appearance by Tricia Helfer, also known as our favorite Cylon Number Six from “Battlestar Galactica.”

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show”
“Swingers” star Vince Vaughn selects four comedians to perform 30 dates in 30 nights across the United States. Sounds a bit like Dane Cook’s “Tourgasm,” except without the suck of Dane Cook. The comedians featured in this documentary include Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst and Sebastian Maniscalco.

Opens wide (official site).

“Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins”
Martin Lawrence further tarnishes his comic credibility in this family comedy that finds the formerly edgy comedian playing it safe once again. Lawrence stars as a popular talk show host who leaves Los Angeles for a raucous family reunion in the Deep South. We deeply miss the Lawrence of yesteryear (even “Blue Streak”…. anyone?) and hope that maybe, someday, he’ll return to the risky material that we all grew to love in the early ’90s.

Opens wide (official site).

[Photo: “In Bruges,” Focus Features, 2008]

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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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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.