DID YOU READ

Opening This Week

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06232008_elsaandfred.jpgBy Neil Pedley

As the temperature rises, romance blooms amongst the geriatric set, “Mary Poppins” goes Bollywood, and parents will get their first chance to lay eyes on that which will likely have them driving to Toys “R” Us all summer long.

“Elsa and Fred”
Seeing anyone under 30 fall in love on screen is elusive these days, and so director Marcos Carnevale’s gentle and endearing tale of romance between a couple with a real-life combined age of 176 is quite the breath of fresh air. In a role that nabbed several awards in his native Spain, Manuel Alexandre stars as Fred, an embittered widower whose chance encounter with Elsa (China Zorilla), a mischievous Fellini fanatic, leads the pair to Italy to fulfill her dream of reenacting the famous Trevi Fountain scene from Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita.” In Spanish with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Finding Amanda”
Fans of the small screen will likely already be familiar with the singular, sarcastic wit of Peter Tolan as the co-creator and chief writer on television’s best soap opera for men, “Rescue Me.” This acidic semi-autobiographical comedy is his first feature, starring Matthew Broderick as — what else? — a TV writer/producer who’s put some of his old vices behind him, but still hasn’t quite managed to kick his addiction to betting on the horses. When his gambling problem leads to trouble with his wife (Maura Tierney), he unwisely decides to head to Vegas to redeem himself by attempting to persuade her niece (Brittany Snow) to leave her profession (the world’s oldest) and enter rehab, if he can only manage to stay out of the casino long enough. Unfortunately, a scene-stealing Steve Coogan shows up as a seedy casino manager who once again proves that if you run a casino in a Hollywood film, you’re contractually obliged to be a smarmy bastard.
Opens in limited release.

“Full Grown Men”
It’s been a long trip for David Munro’s road movie, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2006 and secured a distribution deal by nabbing indieWIRE and Sundance Channel‘s 2007 Undiscovered Gems Audience Award. Matt McGrath stars as Alby, a 35-year old Peter Pan living a long way from Neverland as a husband and father who finds his young son’s Christmas gifts more appealing than his own. Evicted from the house by his exasperated wife, he sets out on a trip to the Diggityland theme park, hoping to recapture the glory days of his youth with Elias, his best friend from childhood (Judah Friedlander) in tow. But Elias’ recollections of their childhood are not quite as rose-tinted as Alby remembers. Alan Cumming, Amy Sedaris and Deborah Harry make sure the film is one wild ride.
Opens in limited release.

“Gunnin’ for that #1 Spot”
Following the ingenious “Awesome; I F**kin’ Shot That!,” which incorporated the footage from 50 camcorders handed out to fans at a 2004 Beastie Boys concert into a rock doc, Beasties founder Adam Yauch is taking his act from Madison Square Garden to Rucker Park, where he turns the cameras on his other great love, basketball. The erstwhile Nathanial Hornblower takes us back to his hometown of Brooklyn to the first annual Boost Mobile Elite 24 Hoops Classic and follows some of the best prep players in the country, including future first round picks Michael Beasley and Kevin Love, as they go head to head with each other on the street ball court, looking to put themselves in the shop window for the NBA and the sneaker companies alike.
Opens in New York.

“The Last Mistress”
Less than a month after studying art in “Mother of Tears,” IFC fave Asia Argento is back to delight us in provocative French director Catherine Breillat’s tale of aristocracy and desire, lavishly furnished with copious amounts of gorgeously shot sex. Loosely based on Jules-Amédée Barbey d’Aurevilly’s steamy 19th-century novel, the film breaks in first-timer Fa’ud Ait Aattou as a libertine looking to put his debauchery behind him by marrying Breillat regular Roxane Mesquida’s empty powdered wig, but is unable to resist the siren song of his former lover, played by Argento. By now, you know who we’d go with. In French with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Red Roses and Petrol”
Joseph O’Connor’s caustic play puts the two things the Irish are better at than anyone else in the world front and center — drinking and longstanding family conflict. Malcolm McDowell gets top billing as the patriarch whose sudden and unexpected death forces his hopelessly fractured family to gather in Dublin for the wake. Trapped together for the first time in years, they have little option but to get hammered and uncover the true source of their lingering trauma. Director Tamar Simon Hoffs gets behind the camera for the first time since 1987’s teen party flick “The Allnighter,” once again enlisting the help of her daughter and former Bangles lead singer Susanna to provide the music, along with Flogging Molly.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic”
After a small string of badly received flops, Bollywood production outfit Yash Raj Films brings back the tried and tested combo of Rani Mukerji and Saif Ali Kahn for this light but spirited family musical drama. The film features a lively ensemble of child stars as four orphans who are forced into the reluctant custody of a wealthy industrialist (Kahn) and find themselves about as welcome as a new round of trade tariffs. After praying for help, the children are duly obliged with the presence of the angel Geeta (Mukerji) to watch over them as a nanny and deliver the requisite spoonful of sugar to bring harmony to this makeshift family. In Hindi with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Trumbo”
Nobody related to the world of film is fond of Joseph McCarthy, the paranoid bullyboy senator from Wisconsin who led the communist witch hunt of the 1950s, but few are likely to dislike him with quite the vitriolic intensity of Dalton Trumbo. One of Hollywood’s highest paid screenwriters of that era, Trumbo’s career was shattered when he was thrown into prison for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee and became a part of the blacklisted “Hollywood 10.” Based on his son Christopher’s play, director Peter Askin’s documentary charts the scribe’s rise and subsequent fall from grace, his time in Mexico and resurgence culminating in restored credit for his work during exile, as well as performances of Trumbo’s work and correspondence by the likes of Joan Allen, Michael Douglas, Paul Giamatti and Nathan Lane.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“WALL – E”
“Finding Nemo” director Andrew Stanton has apparently had this little fellow shuffling around inside his head since before Pixar made their name with “Toy Story” over a decade ago. An instantly adorable fusion of Johnny 5, Herbie and Droopy Dog with a cuteness factor turned up to eleven, WALL-E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter – Earth Class) is left alone to pick up after us after we humans leave Earth looking like a freshman student’s shared kitchen. Though likely irresistible to the tots in the audience, WALL-E faces a challenge when he meets the search robot EVE, a clinical creation who is charged with reporting the planet’s status who WALL-E instantly falls for, but who has no feelings of her own.
Opens wide.

“Wanted”
With his dark and gritty adaptation of Sergey Lukyanenko’s “Night Watch”, story director Timur Bekmambetov outperformed the likes of American imports “Return of the King,” Harry Potter and that film about the boat that sank to engineer the highest gross ever recorded at the Russian box office for a single movie. Now, he is setting his sights on Hollywood domination with another visceral assault on the senses, an adaptation of Mark Millar’s graphic — and we mean graphic — novel that shows that assassins really do have more fun. James McAvoy (complete with a stunningly bad imitation of an American accent) is the listless cubicle dweller offered a career change by Angelina Jolie’s mysterious Fox, one of the world’s deadliest assassins, who’s charged with training him to replace his murdered, estranged father in the ranks of a secret death and justice squad known as the Fraternity, led by Morgan Freeman. Curving bullets and Jolie’s curves aim to win over that oh-so-underserved niche demographic of 18-35 year old men.
Opens wide.

[Photo: “Elsa and Fred,” Mitropoulos 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.