DID YOU READ

Opening This Week

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03172008_boardinggate.jpgBy Neil Pedley

SXSW recently concluded a week-long unveiling of some of the best and brightest new talent that indie film has to offer, but that didn’t deter established players from forging ahead with the fine traditions that have this week brought us an Owen Wilson kiddie comedy, a poker mockumentary and an imitation of whatever Asian cinema was doing four years ago.

“Boarding Gate”
Three-time Palme D’Or nominee Olivier Assayas delivers a sleek and sexually charged thriller that stars the irresistible Asia Argento as a gal on the run from Europe to Asia as she indulges in affairs with both Michael Madsen’s high-flying financier and the hit man sent to target him. If you can take your eyes off of Argento, keep one eye open for a supporting turn by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon.
Opens in limited release.

“Drillbit Taylor”
Judd Apatow tries to appeal to the kiddie crowd with this slapstick comedy co-written by Apatow associate Seth Rogen about a troupe of high school nerds who hire Owen Wilson’s bungling bodyguard to protect them from bullies. While Wilson’s apparent suicide attempt in August 2007 has made this a hard sell for Paramount, the film is filled with funny faces including Leslie Mann, Danny McBride and Lisa Lampanelli. Indie film fans should take note of the casting of Alex Frost as one of said bullies — he played a bullying victim turned assassin in Gus Van Sant’s controversial 2003 film “Elephant.”
Opens wide.

“The Grand”
We’ve been spared a Will Ferrell jai alai satire (so far), but there are few sports that have yet to become the basis of a sports comedy. In this most recent example, “The Grand” lampoons poker’s newfound image as the coolest game in town with a variety of numbskulls and deluded wannabes competing for the grand prize in a tournament at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. In addition to a galaxy of poker’s finest players dealing themselves into the action, the film boasts a cast including the likes of Woody Harrelson, Ray Romano, Cheryl Hines and (yes!) Werner Herzog.
Opens in limited release.

“The Hammer”
Perhaps it’s fitting that the reunion of “Kissing Jessica Stein” writer/actress Heather Juergensen and director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld is for this bizarre but affectionate comedy about second chances. Did we mention it stars “The Man Show”‘s Adam Carolla? The radio host reportedly drew from his own life experience to pen the story and to star as Jerry Ferro, an ex-amateur boxer turned construction worker who decides to put the gloves back on and launch a bid for Olympic glory as he approaches 40.
Opens in limited release.

“Love Songs”
Novelist, playwright and children’s author Christophe Honoré continues the renaissance of the modern day musical with this tale of young love in Paris starring Louis Garrel and Ludivine Sagnier as a couple who attempt to kick start their stalled romance with a ménage-a-trois that only succeeds in complicating matters further.
Opens in New York.

“Meet the Browns”
Tyler Perry may not be earning cred with the critics, but he has snagged his first Oscar-nominated lead in Angela Bassett, who stars in Perry’s latest parable as a woman struggling to hold her family together following the death of her father, who she never knew. Audiences might already know about “the Browns” from its run as a play in 2004, but after a two-film absence, Lionsgate is hoping an appearance by Perry’s signature character, Madea, will be cause for celebration.
Opens wide.

“Planet B-Boy”
Filmmaker Benson Lee makes his debut with this colorful documentary looking to shed some light on what he feels is the criminally misunderstood phenomenon of break dancing. Lee takes us around the world, charting the history of the dance, its relationship to martial arts, its courtship by pop culture and its free-flowing, improvisational nature as a form of self-empowerment and free expression. Frankly, we’re in favor of anything that makes us feel less ashamed of loving “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.”
Opens in limited release.

“Shelter”
Jonah Markowitz writes and directs this melancholic tale of self-sacrifice and forbidden love that was an acclaimed staple of the gay and lesbian film festival circuit last year. Trevor Wright stars as Zach, a young man forced to put his life on hold to care for his younger brother. When love blossoms between himself and his best friend’s brother, Shaun (Brad Rowe), Zach is torn between his obligations to his family and the hopes and dreams he still harbors for himself. If nothing else, the art direction should look great — Markowitz cut his teeth in the art department on films ranging from “Saw” to “House of Sand and Fog.”
Opens in limited release.

“Shutter”
Now that Hollywood has exhausted the Japanese horror genre, the producers behind “The Ring” and “The Grudge” have turned their attention to Thailand with this remake of Banjong Pisanthanakun’s 2004 thriller of the same name. A young couple (Joshua Jackson & Rachael Taylor) honeymooning in Tokyo discovers ghostly images lingering in their vacation photographs. Incidentally, the U.S. is not the first country to remake “Shutter” — last year, the Tamil film industry adapted a version of their own, entitled “Sivi.”
Opens wide.

“Under the Same Moon”
While the immigration debate rages on all around us, filmmaker Patricia Riggen’s tender family portrait focuses on the loving bond between mother and child that even thousands of miles of separation cannot break. After his grandmother passes away, a young boy has no choice but to risk the treacherous journey across the U.S. border in the hope that he and his mother can be reunited. This is Riggen’s first dramatic feature, following her debut documentary that received a short filmmaking award at Sundance 2005.
Opens in limited release.

[Photo: “Boarding Gate,” Magnolia, 2007]

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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.