DID YOU READ

Opening This Week

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03032008_cj7_a.jpgBy Neil Pedley

[Photo: Stephen Chow’s “CJ7,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2008]

Still nursing a hangover from a week of drunken rage spent stumbling half-naked through the subways of New York, shouting at strangers and ticket machines about how “Michael Clayton” was robbed for best screenplay, I thought I was back in 2007. After all, there’s an ancient epic from Warner Bros., a new Martin Lawrence comedy and… well, Jason Statham seems to have a new movie every month. Upon further investigation, however, “300” and “Wild Hogs” haven’t been retitled and my life returns to some semblance of order.

“10,000 B.C.”
You’ve overseen the invasion of planet Earth by alien forces, trashed New York City by way of a gigantic lizard and buried the entire northern hemisphere under 300 feet of ice and snow. What’s next? Simple, really — you travel back in time 12,000 years and try to find shit to destroy there, instead! Director Roland Emmerich goes medieval on the prehistoric era with an extravagant epic employing 2000 A.D-era computer graphics to breathe life into huge woolly mammoths.
Opens wide.

“The Bank Job”
This Roger Donaldson-helmed cockney crime caper is based on the true story of a 1971 bank robbery of hundreds of security deposit boxes in London and its aftermath. Jason Statham and his crew of likely lads are hired by some shady figures looking to protect the Royal Family after compromising photos are traced to a box in the bank’s vault.
Opens wide.

“Blindsight”
After being cast out of Tibetan society under the belief that blindness is caused by demons, six visually impaired teenagers are taken under the wing of German social worker Sabriye Tenberken, who attempts the improbable by leading them 23,000 feet up the north face of Mount Everest. English documentarian Lucy Walker, who previously directed the Spirit Award-nominated Amish doc “The Devil’s Playground,” captures it all on film. “Blindspot” won audience awards at both the 2006 AFI Film Festival and at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival.
Opens in New York; expands March 14.

“CJ7”
The irrepressible Stephen Chow follows up the hugely successful “Kung Fu Hustle” with this gentle family comedy. Chow writes, directs, produces and stars as a widower indebted to his boss and unable to afford a Christmas present for his son. Skulking around a junkyard, he stumbles across the film’s titular character, the impossibly cute CJ7, an alien he mistakes for a toy and brings home to unexpected results.
Opens in limited release.

“College Road Trip”
Once again recycling his “tightly wound authority figure with the short fuse” schtick, Martin Lawrence stars as a police chief and overprotective father who freaks out when he realizes just how far away his daughter’s college plans will take her. In a stroke of corporate synergy, Raven-Symoné, star of the Disney Channel’s “That’s So Raven,” plays Lawrence’s long-suffering offspring who tries to break out on her own.
Opens wide.

“Fighting For Life”
Terry Sanders, the two-time Oscar winner who last co-directed the Vietnam prisoner of war documentary “Return with Honor,” returns to the battlefield with this documentary about the unsung heroes of the U.S. armed forces — the field army medical core deployed on the front lines of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Taking politics out of the equation, the film focuses on the humanity and compassion of the people charged with saving lives under some of the most difficult and dangerous conditions on Earth.
Opens in limited release.

“Frownland”
Winner of a Special Jury Prize for “uncompromising singularity of vision” at the 2007 SXSW film festival, “Frownland” is the story of a man trying to make a living selling coupons door to door. In his directorial debut, Ronald Bronstein delivers a darkly sardonic portrait of one man’s staggering level of social awkwardness and painful inability to communicate and form meaningful relationships with the people around him.
Opens in New York.

“Girls Rock!”
Arne Johnson and Shane King take us behind the scenes of Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, a program designed to combat the indoctrination of teenage girls to conform to a preconceived image by the mainstream media. Every year, the camp takes in eight- to 18-year-old girls and schools them in self-empowerment through music, which leads not only to better self-esteem and self-image, but a chance at becoming the next Joan Jett.
Opens in limited release.

“Married Life”
Chris Cooper leads an all-star cast in Ira Sachs’s adaptation of John Bingham’s cult novel about a man who falls in love with a seductive young woman (Rachel McAdams) but can’t bear the thought of breaking the heart of his wife (Patricia Clarkson). He decides it’d be kindest to find a way to kill the missus. Pierce Brosnan costars.
Opens in limited release.

“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”
This romantic farce tells of Miss Pettigrew (Francis McDormand), a perpetually unemployed London governess who poses as a social secretary out of desperation and gets hired by dizzy socialite, Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams). Determined to enjoy herself for a change, Miss Pettigrew decides to make herself right at home and sets a task of navigating Delysia through her precariously overcrowded love life. “Pettigrew” was penned by the tag team of Simon Beaufoy (“The Full Monty”) and David Magee (“Finding Neverland”).
Opens in limited release.

“Paranoid Park”
Enigmatic, divisive director Gus Van Sant returns with another slice of his singular vision of American pie, complete with the usual flavors of innocence lost and youthful alienation. Based on the Blake Nelson novel of the same name, “Paranoid Park” relates the story of Alex, a young skateboarder who must deal with a crisis of conscience after he accidentally kills a security guard while trying to hitch a train ride. Cannes already issued its verdict — “Park” took home a special 60th Anniversary Prize at last year’s festival.
Opens in limited release.

“Snow Angels”
A highlight of last year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Snow Angels” reveals the unfulfilled lives abounding in a declining Pennsylvania town in indie darling David Gordon Green’s adaptation of Stewart O’Nan’s novel. A high school pair (Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby) fall in love as an estranged grown-up couple (Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale) deal with the bitter end of their relationship. Amy Sedaris, Nicky Katt and Griffin Dunne round out the eclectic cast.
Opens in New York.

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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.