DID YOU READ

Opening This Week

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05262008_biggerstrongerfaster.jpgBy Neil Pedley

There’s something for everyone this week at the multiplex, what with Carrie and company offering something for the ladies with “Sex and the City,” the Tae Kwon Do comedy “The Foot Fist Way” being an alternative for the guys, and “Savage Grace”… well, again, let’s just say there’s something for everyone.

“Bigger, Stronger, Faster*”
With everyone from Little League coaches to members of the U.S. Congress weighing in on the issue of performance enhancing drugs in sports, body builder (and former user) Christopher Bell injects his own story into this documentary that explores America’s obsession with excellence and what it realistically takes to achieve it. Bell chronicles his own family’s history of steroid use as a jumping off point to explore the wider love/hate relationship between professional athletes and performance enhancing drugs in a culture where winning is everything and there are no points for second place.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“The Foot Fist Way
Their abusive infant short, “The Landlord,” simply can’t be ignored, and now Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Gary Sanchez Productions is giving birth to the company’s first full-length film — a low-budget, anarchic, offbeat martial arts comedy. Danny McBride, who co-wrote the film with his friends, stars as Fred Simmons, a graduate of the Crouching Moron, Hidden Ineptitude School of self-defense, who runs a dojo where he instructs old women and small children on how to deflect oncoming sand from their faces. After discovering his wife’s affair with his movie idol, Chuck “The Truck” Wallace, Simmons snaps and dispenses his rage on anyone he can overpower — mostly the aforementioned old women and small children.
Opens in limited release.

“L’origine de la tendresse and Other Tales”
Alice Winocour, Guillaume Martinez and Alain-Paul Mallard are a few of the filmmakers whose work is showcased in this collection of six French shorts that have been honored at festivals like Cannes and Berlin.
Opens in New York.

“Savage Grace”
After a long absence from the film scene, “Swoon” director Tom Kalin returns to his roots with another retelling of a sensational real life crime of passion in this provocative adaptation of the acclaimed book by Natalie Robins and Steven Aronson. Julianne Moore stars as Barbara Daly, a decadent socialite who marries above her station in tying the knot with plastics baron Brooks Baekeland (Stephen Dillane). But Barbara’s rampant insecurity and desperate need for acceptance drives her into an unhealthy and ultimately incestuous relationship with her gay son, Tony (Eddie Redmayne).
Opens in limited release.

“Sex and The City”
The devil may wear Prada, but the devil was in the details of getting a Prada bag back in the hands of Carrie Bradshaw. Despite reported contract disputes and trouble finding a studio home, HBO’s hugely successful romantic comedy about, well, sex and the city, returns for a big screen outing four years after the show’s final season. Written and directed by the series’ executive producer Michael Patrick King, the two-and-a-half hour jaunt in Jimmy Choos finds Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) finally set to waltz down the aisle with Mr. Big amidst other complications for Miranda (Cynthia Nixon), Charlotte (Kristin Davis) and Samantha (Kim Cattrall). Also on hand is Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, who will perhaps try to turn the quartet into a quintet.
Opens wide.

“The Strangers”
Supposedly “inspired by true events,” first-time writer/director Bryan Bertino proves there’s no place like home with a visceral, claustrophobic thriller starring Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman as a young couple besieged in their isolated vacation house and terrorized by three malevolent masked assailants. Though postponed several times, the film has made good use of the time, putting teasers and trailers into circulation online as far back as August last year — and to be honest, we never thought we’d hear folk singer Gillian Welch on a soundtrack to a horror film.
Opens wide.

“Stuck”
B-movie icon Stuart Gordon (“Re-Animator,” “The Pit and the Pendulum”) directs and co-wrote this cruel. black-as-soot comedy based on real-life 2001 incident of a young woman who finds a homeless man lodged in her windshield after a hit and run accident. Fearing that this little snafu might scupper her new promotion, she decides it’s best if she just leaves him there until he dies, except that the selfish sod refuses to cooperate, forcing her to conjure up creative ways to speed up the process. Mena Suvari and Stephen Rea star as the truly odd couple.
Opens in limited release.

“The Unknown Woman”
Winner of multiple awards on the European festival circuit as well as Italy’s pick to represent at the 2007 Oscars, this dark and disturbing thriller is a change of pace for “Cinema Paradiso” director Giuseppe Tornatore. Kseniya Rappoport plays Irena, a Russian prostitute who robs her pimp and flees to Italy, only to become a maid for a family in Northern Italy, where her motives may turn out to be less than squeaky clean. In Italian with subtitles.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on June 27.

“Wonders Are Many”
How do you make an opera about an atomic bomb? “Wonders Are Many” is a documentary that tracks composer John Adams and director Peter Sellers as they work to do just that with their creation “Doctor Atomic.” “Wonders” filmmaker Jon Else weaves in footage of the actual history of atomic weapons with behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the operatic production.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

[Photo: “Bigger, Stronger, Faster*”, Magnolia Pictures, 2008]

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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.