DID YOU READ

The Doc Days of Summer

The Doc Days of Summer (photo)

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Last year, “Young@Heart” caused ripples when it sold to Fox Searchlight to become the first distribution deal to emerge from the L.A. Film Festival, so perhaps it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the festival put documentaries front and center this year, even in a city where there’s no shortage of name actors that most other festivals would deploy to lure audiences. Instead, one of the more anticipated star attractions in Los Angeles was a talk with HBO documentary czar Sheila Nevins, who participated in a wide-ranging conversation with L.A. Times columnist Patrick Goldstein about her career of mixing high class projects like the recent doc “Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired” with, well, “Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal,” which premiered at the festival hours after Nevins finished up. (The latest from “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” directors Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, which follows Fleiss’s construction of “a stud farm” for women, actually went awry to the point that Nevins steps in to interview Fleiss.)

In fact, HBO was such a presence at the festival that when one audience member wanted to compliment “Trinidad,” the elegant history of the sex change capital of the world in Colorado, the woman said, “It felt like a narrative film. It felt like an HBO film.” And that might actually be selling it short. The directorial debut of Jay Hodges and PJ Raval, the latter of whom served as cinematographer on the recent Sundance winner “Trouble the Water,” is a film that creeps up on you, not unlike the realization that the women who have formed an unlikely community in the heart of frontier country were actually at one time men. As the film recounts, the town became a haven for transgenders when Dr. Stanley Biber pioneered the sex change operation and, since his passing in 2006, one of his patients, Dr. Marci Bowers, took charge of the local hospital where the operations now actually pay for the rest of the hospital’s services. Hodges and Raval arrive in town just in time to shoot the construction of Morning Glow, a recovery house that not only provides a dramatic arc for the story, but slyly demonstrates how post-ops are just like anyone else, in moments as simple as arguing over the proper trim for the doors of the house.

If “Trinidad” was about the struggle to fit in, “Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe” is about busting out, which is what I thought I wanted to do five minutes into director Harry Kim’s frenzied biography. Between the shaky camera work and Choe leading a chorus of Pygmy children in the Congo chanting “titties and ass,” there didn’t seem to be much hope for either my eyes or American diplomacy to be spared in this portrait of a Korean-American artist who rose from tagging tunnels in L.A. to getting paid millions by the likes of Scion and Nike for his unique and vibrant paintings. Amazingly, Kim is there from the beginning of Choe’s unusual career, catching the tagger as he stands on the roof of a car to create a series of whales on the side of the freeway in his early twenties, then capturing an older but not necessarily wiser Choe lamenting on how he’s sold out by doing graffiti for corporate presentations. The thrill may have subsided for Choe, who in one scene punches his own nose repeatedly to get the proper shade of crimson, yet watching him work, illegally or not, is invigorating. The film’s messy aesthetic seems all too true to the artist, who, if he didn’t insist on defying categorization, would be classified in parts as self-destructive, misogynistic, cynical and yes, immensely talented.

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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.