DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: Matthew Broderick, the Gits, Guillaume Canet

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06302008_brutalmassacre.jpgBy Neil Pedley

This 4th of July week finds Will Smith’s belligerent man of steel sending the rest of the summer tentpole movies running scared, leaving only the indies to offer any alternative.

“Brutal Massacre”
Does the horror genre need its own “This Is Spinal Tap”? Ready or not, here comes “Brutal Massacre,” a mockumentary comedy about a once-successful horror director (played by “An American Werewolf in London”‘s David Naughton) attempting to make his big comeback film against increasingly insurmountable odds. Be on the lookout for appearances by Gunnar Hansen (“The Texas Chain Saw Massacre”‘s Leatherface), Ellen Sandweiss (“The Evil Dead”) and other horror movie stalwarts.
Opens in limited release.

“Diminished Capacity”
Terry Kinney made a name for himself as Tim McManus, the idealistic but world-weary warden of Emerald City in the hard-hitting prison drama “Oz.” “Diminished Capacity,” his debut as a director, also finds Matthew Broderick continues his due diligence to the indie scene with his third movie opening in as many months. Broderick plays a former newsman relegated to editing the funnies after an accident leaves him with a drastically unreliable memory. Heading to a memorabilia swap meet with his high school sweetheart (Virginia Madsen) in tow, the pair look to cash in on a coveted, ultra-rare Cubs baseball card and save his senile uncle’s house from foreclosure.
Opens in limited release.

The Gits Movie
Poised to be another break-out band from the early ’90s Seattle music scene, punk rock band the Gits came to a tragic end when lead singer Mia Zapata was raped and murdered in 1993. This doc, directed by Kerri O’Kane, explores both the band’s legacy and the capture, a decade after the crime, of her murderer.
Opens in limited release.

“Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson”
Filmmaker Alex Gibney, the brain behind the acclaimed documentaries “Taxi To the Dark Side” and “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” takes us on a journey into the heart of “bat country” to tell the story of one of the late, great gun-loving gods of journalism. Charting the highs and lows of the man credited with inventing the first-person “Gonzo” style of reporting, Gibney chronicles the life and times of a true literary artist who spent so long being a legend to so many that he spent the rest of his life fighting an ultimately losing battle to just be a man. Johnny Depp narrates.
Opens in limited release.

“Hancock”
Much in keeping with its theme, this high-concept riff on Hollywood’s most bankable genre has gone through a considerable number of costume changes of its own over the years, with a revolving door’s worth of talent attached and unattached, including director Michael Mann, who eventually settled in as one of four producers. Mann’s “Kingdom” collaborator Peter Berg ultimately took the director’s chair, with Will Smith as a cantankerous, alcoholic superhero who reluctantly enlists the help of Jason Bateman’s PR rep after some booze-fueled collateral damage. “Hancock” should provide the definitive answer on whether Smith really is bulletproof at the box office, as early reviews claim the film suffers an identity crisis nearly as crippling as its main character. Charlize Theron also stars, though one wouldn’t know it from the trailer.
Opens wide.

“Holding Trevor”
Unfulfilled lives and dysfunctional relationships abound in this edgy exploration of co-dependency from director Rosser Goodman in her debut feature. Brent Gorski writes, produces and also stars in the title role as the disaffected youth drowning in stagnation of his well-meaning but suffocating social circle. Struggling to break free from his self-destructive, heroin-addicted lover, Trevor braves a shot at happiness after a chance encounter with charismatic Ephram (Eli Kranski).
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Kabluey”
Films that premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival can sometimes carry an unfair stigma, with the first question out of people’s mouths often being “If it’s any good then how come it wasn’t picked for Sundance, SXSW or Tribeca?” Yet a year ago, word coming out of the summer festival was favorable, praising the film as more than the sum of its parts. Former Groundlings member Scott Prendergast makes his feature debut as writer, director and star of this surreal, darkly comic story of a man who, while his brother is deployed in Iraq, helps his despairing sister-in-law (Lisa Kudrow) and her two megabrats by taking a degrading job as a giant blue mascot for a failing internet company.
Opens in limited release.

“Tell No One”
While he might be best known to American audiences as the French backpacker who had his girlfriend pinched by Leonardo DiCaprio in Danny Boyle’s “The Beach,” Guillaume Canet is being hailed as something of a revelation in his native France for his work both in front of and behind the camera. He wrote and directed “Tell No One,” a dark thriller that stars François Cluzet as a pediatrician on the verge of rebuilding his life eight years after he was the prime suspect in his wife’s brutal murder. When damning evidence is discovered once again linking him to a brutal killing he knows nothing about, he receives a mysterious e-mail that alerts him to the fact that his wife might still be alive and that they’re both being watched by sinister forces. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“The Wackness”
Winner of an Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “The Wackness” is writer/director Jonathan Levine’s follow-up to his breakthrough film “All The Boys Love Mandy Lane.” A wistful, pensive look at New York City in the early 1990s through some rather green tinted spectacles, the film stars Josh Peck as a recently graduated stoner who idles away his last summer before heading to college watching new mayor Rudy Giuliani wage war on slackers and dealing pot from an ice cream cart. He has an arrangement with his shrink (Sir Ben Kingsley), who gives him free therapy in exchange for “medication.” The film also grants you a front row seat to watch Sir Ben and the lovely Mary-Kate Olsen, in a supporting role, making out, which is surely worth the price of admission on its own.
Opens in limited release.

“We Are Together”
After rounding the festival circuit for nearly two years, Paul Taylor’s documentary about a choir of South African children orphaned by AIDS finally makes it to theaters. We have nothing snide to add.
Opens in limited release.

[Photo: “Brutal Massacre,” Anchor Bay Entertainment, 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.