DID YOU READ

SXSW 2008: “Nights and Weekends.”

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03162008_nightsandweekends.jpgThere’s a meta-mumblecore movie just begging to be made that’s set amidst the group of people who’ve been making mumblecore movies, and it would start off at the tense premiere screening of “Nights and Weekends.” Co-directors, writers and stars Greta Gerwig and Joe Swanberg presented their third feature together to (and later took part in a candid Q&A in front of) a crowd half made up of friends and acquaintances uncomfortably aware that things had gotten ugly during the making of the film. In a mini-movement that’s eluded agreed-upon definitions beyond the fact that its films are the collaborative creations of collections of friends, it was both stinging and poignant to see a film about a break-up that coincides with the break-up of a creative partnership. And “Nights and Weekends” is good, the best thing that Swanberg — who’s on his fourth film in four years, and the first in which he’s shared a co-director credit — has produced in his young career, maybe because his influence is balanced out by Gerwig’s, and maybe because this is the first in which the shadow of adult life encroaches on the post-college bubble that’s been both the playground and bane of his work.

“Nights and Weekends” is the unapologetically elliptical tale of a long-distance relationship between James (Swanberg), who’s working in Chicago, and Mattie (Gerwig), who’s in nursing school in New York. Over the span of two visits, they fight and fuck and go through all of the heightened drama of two people compressing a few weeks’ worth of time together into a few days. At the midpoint of the film, there’s a pregnancy scare, and then a “One Year Later” title card, and we take up with the two of them post-offscreen break-up, when James, in town for business, impulsively gives Mattie a call. The narrative is defiantly artless, but falls nevertheless into a nicely bifurcated structure, with the fits and starts of the first half leading into the immediacy of the second. No score, other than The Zombie’s melancholy “This Will Be Our Year” at opening credits; Gerwig and Swanberg carry the film on their own, with assistance from cinematographers Matthias Grunsky and Benjamin Kasulke — in another first in the Swanberg oeuvre, others shoot the film, and the look is massively improved for it.

Gerwig and Swanberg reportedly shot hours of footage for what would become “Nights and Weekends,” and then, a year later, decided there still wasn’t enough there for a feature and reunited to make the second, and stronger, half of the film. It shows, but in a way that works — that feeling that the initial half of the film consists of the best scenes skimmed from some larger and more mundane narrative gives it the consistency of something subjective. Over time, it’s the brightest and the darkest moments of a relationship that remain in the memory, which may be why, given the chance, you’d revisit it all.

+ “Nights and Weekends” (SXSW)
+ “Nights and Weekends” (Official site)

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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.