DID YOU READ

Fantastic Fest 2008: “Seventh Moon.”

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09212008_seventhmoon.jpgThere was an episode of “The Maury Povich Show” in which people confessed to serious but laughable phobias — birds, pickles, balloons — after which, for scientific purposes, you understand, a PA would come out and confront them with their object of terror. As I watched a housewife be chased around a sound stage, shrieking, by an intern wielding a balloon, it occurred to me that the segment was one of the most awesome things I’d ever seen on TV, and also that, in a far-off way, I could relate to the woman. I can’t stand the low-grade torture of seeing a balloon in the hands of someone with the intent to ultimately pop it — the pop itself is nothing, but the anticipation of it, the not knowing when it’s coming, is agony.

“Seventh Moon” is a horror flick based almost completely on that squirmy frisson, which is really the cheapest and most irritating ploy of the genre. The film’s a series of set-pieces in which you know, eventually, someone will leap out and yell “Boo!” Alas, that someone is always one or several of a pack of chalky, asthmatic monsters (“moon demons”) who look like shabby knock-offs of the cave dwellers in “The Descent” and the ogre in “Pan’s Labyrinth.” “Seventh Moon” is third feature from Eduardo Sánchez, who, almost a decade ago, teamed up with Daniel Myrick to make the most financially successful indie film ever — “The Blair Witch Project.” Neither of the two co-directors has managed to make a blip on the radar since. Myrick’s dreadful “The Objective,” which premiered at Tribeca earlier this year and vanished, tried to recreate the “Blair Witch” scenario of people being menaced by supernatural forces in the wilderness in rural Afghanistan. “Seventh Moon” tries the same in China, where the American-born Yul (Tim Chiou) has taken his blond bride Melissa (Amy Smart) on a honeymoon trip to meet his extended family. The tour guide they’ve hired to drive them ditches them in an boarded-up village in the dark, where the locals have planned to offer the pair as sacrifices to the menacing creatures who return annually to add to their number. There’s much running through the trees, and then hiding in a house, and then running through the trees, and then hiding in a car, but precious little to make you care about the fate of the couple, who get scant moments of development: “You hate that I’m Chinese!” “I love that you’re Chinese.”

The film is roughly inspired by the Chinese belief that in the seventh month of the lunar year the dead return to the land of the living to partake in offerings, but the monsters are the filmmaker’s own creation, and a borderline insulting upping of a major cultural event into something including human sacrifice. “Seventh Moon” is, in a way, like “Hostel” or “Turistas,” a fantastia about the hostilities the rest of the world has to offer Americans abroad. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the broad but stinging subtext of either of those titles. It does have a lot of pale things leaping out of the dark. Boo!

[Photo: “Seventh Moon,” Haxan Films, 2008]

+ “Seventh Moon” (Fantastic Fest)

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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.