DID YOU READ

Critic wrangle: “Son of Rambow.”

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05022008_sonoframbow.jpgHere’s my review from Sundance last year. “Son of Rambow,” the second film from music video team Hammer & Tongs, whose first was the not so well received “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” is long in coming — it was delayed due to a legal struggle with StudioCanal over use of footage from “Rambo: First Blood.” Word is, again, mixed on the way whimsical film about two children shooting their own sequel to Stallone’s action film.

Lisa Schwarzbaum at Entertainment Weekly sighs that director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith “display plenty of whirligig energy, if not much control or lightness of touch,” while Scott Tobias at the Onion AV Club suggest that “make that check out to Wes Anderson, care of Rushmore Academy, with a portion of the residuals due to Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amélie) and his signature Rube Goldberg setpieces.” He finds “the film works better in sequences than as a whole, and suffers from an overly familiar homemade aesthetic.” Nick Schager at Slant seconds the Anderson comparison, preferring the first half of the film to the second: “Jennings’s interest in dramatizing youthful male bonds of friendship and cinema’s function as a unifying medium giving way to sappy clashes and even sappier resolutions.” “Son of Rambow turns unfortunately insular and maudlin about the desperate sources of its boyhood outcasts’ imaginations,” agrees Armond White at the New York Press. “Even when enlisting kids at their school to help out in the remake, the amateur endeavor never becomes wild, subversive or original.”

Others are more won over: “[A]t its most likable, Son of Rambow evokes the rush of discovery that turns budding cinephiles into lifers–that delight in finding a film that seems to express or coalesce some inchoate yearning, including a yen to share,” writes Jim Ridley at the Village Voice. Dana Stevens at Slate dislikes the ending but still finds that “Son of Rambow bristles with the anarchic energy of late childhood and a genuine respect for the life-changing power of movies–even (or especially) the schlocky ones.” Michael Koresky at indieWIRE believes the film “jumps uneasily between gritty and surreal, never quite plumbing the depths of the childhood imagination as winningly as darker though more convincingly fanciful films like ‘Heavenly Creatures’ or ‘The Butcher Boy,'” but likes the way “the writer-director refrains from stargazing, dewy appeals to the ‘magic’ of cinema, even at the film’s effectively emotional denouement.” And Manohla Dargis at the New York Times adds that “although the film’s visual style feels more borrowed than organic, there’s enough truth to Will and Lee’s actions — and to the uninflected, touching performances of the two young leads — to keep the film humming along, even when Mr. Jennings veers into sentimentality and lets one too many tear drop.”

[Photo: “Son of Rambow,” Paramount Vantage, 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.