DID YOU READ

Critic wrangle: “Mister Lonely.”

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05022008_misterlonely.jpgWord is mixed on “Mister Lonely,” former indie poster child Harmony Korine’s first theatrical release since 1999’s “Julien Donkey-Boy.” The film, which premiered at Cannes last year, stars Diego Luna as a Michael Jackson impersonator who ends up at a remote Scottish colony composed entirely of celebrity impersonators, among them Marilyn Monroe (Samantha Morton) and Charlie Chaplin (Denis Lavant). In an alternate storyline, Werner Herzog plays a priest presiding over skydiving nuns.

Most critics are just lukewarm,: Andrew Sarris at the New York Observer offers “the faint praise of Mister Lonely as the least offensive of the works in the Korine canon.” (He also notes that “David Blaine plays Father Umbrillo’s priestly subordinate. Lalid Afkir plays someone called Habid in the credits, and I am not sure if either is a celebrity.” Well, Mr. Sarris, the former is, if not famous, at least an Oprah-endorsed world record holder.) “Mister Lonely reveals that the punk abrasiveness of Korine’s youth has been replaced by a lyrical self-pity–the apparent upshot of a decade on the skids,” adds David Edelstein at New York. “I’m glad he has pulled himself together, but the film is pretty ramshackle.”

“Korine’s biggest challenge to an already skeptical audience is the movie’s sleeve-hearted sincerity,” suggests Jim Ridley at the Village Voice, who finds that the film, despite often failing, “yields moments of wonder.” The Onion AV Club‘s Noel Murray agrees, to an extent: “Mister Lonely has its moments of wonder and beauty, but the film is obscure by design, and meant to appeal to those who favor the alternative canon of directing greats.”

Less fond: Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly complains that “none of the faux icons comes close to being a character.” The New York PressArmond White is, as is in character, not unsparing with one-time scenster prince Korine, who he calls “a zombie filmmaker” before running madcap in praise of Michael Jackson (particularly “exquisite ‘You Are Not Alone”) and dwelling on Samantha Morton’s “corpulent backside.”

More fond: Glenn Kenny at Premiere, who, as other have, finds “Mister Lonely” “Korine’s experiment in the extremes of bathos, even as the picture tries to propose itself as a comedy of sorts,” concludes that “that this is a picture that’s divided against itself in a way that’s perhaps too hermetic to be comprehended” and gives it three stars out of four. “[T]here will most likely be those who find his sensibility frustratingly hermetic, morbidly preoccupied with the poetry of compositions and camera movements and archly detached from the emotional currents of the story,” seconds A.O. Scott at the New York Times. “And yet ‘Mister Lonely,’ self-enclosed though it may be, nonetheless demonstrates that Mr. Korine, who showed his ability to shock and repel in earlier films, also has the power to touch, to unsettle and to charm.”

[Photo: “Mister Lonely,” IFC Films, 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.