High Kicks From Both a Chorus Line and Jason Statham

High Kicks From Both a Chorus Line and Jason Statham (photo)

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This week brings a bumper crop of indie and arthouse releases with something to suit all tastes, even if their added box office is outdone by “Crank: High Voltage.”

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“American Violet”
In our politically expedient, hyper-ADD times, director Tim Disney reminds us African-Americans had it tough in the post-civil rights era long before Katrina with this Texas-set drama based on true story. As much a legal thriller as anything else, “American Violet” stars Alfre Woodward as the steely mother of Dee Roberts (Nicole Beharie), a woman wrongly scooped up from the projects amidst a mass drug raid and harassed into a plea bargain. With the help of an ACLU attorney (Tim Blake Nelson) and an ex-cop (Will Patton), she must go up against a callous district attorney (Michael O’Keefe), who’s playing a numbers game in pursuit of federal money, seemingly indifferent to the human cost of his action.
Opens in limited release.

“Ante Up”
Part wish fulfillment fantasy and part meditation on the new millennium’s male insecurities, Jonathan Salemi’s no-budget debut illustrates that concept is still king with a story as simple as it is preposterous. While watching his friends bag the babes as he whiles away the evenings with his chaste girlfriend Julie (Angela de Malignon), Frank (Scott Harris) compensates by regaling his circle with a series of tall tales. Having cried wolf one time too many, he finds his friends don’t believe him when he claims to have discovered a magical light switch in his apartment — one that’ll turn anyone in the room into his willing love slave.
Opens in limited release.

“The Butterfly Tattoo”
Rolled out on the back of the shiny digital fireworks show that was “The Golden Compass,” this big screen adaptation of “The White Mercedes,” Philip Pullman’s first book for young adults, may not have that same Blu-ray demo disc wow factor to it, but keeps to similar dark revenge themesm minus the fantasy elements. Brit helmer Phil Hawkins oversees the perplexing romance of sweet-natured Chris (Duncan Stuart) and cute Manchester cupcake Jenny (Jessica Blake), who hook up at an Oxford ball unaware that each has a dark past that’s about to come back to haunt them.
Opens in limited release.

“Chasing The Green”
After holding almost every job imaginable on a film set, Russ Emanuel gets his second session in the director’s chair for this cautionary rags-to-riches-to-rags tale about two tech industry entrepreneurs in the early ’90s who are singled out by bigger rivals that use their political clout to put the brakes on their flourishing company. Jeremy London leads a cast of veteran small screen players, including Ryan Hurst, Heather McComb and William Devane.
Opens in Los Angeles.

“Crank: High Voltage”
You’ve really got to hand it to Jason Statham; he’s nothing if not a good sport. It’s hard to imagine anyone, even Sly circa “Stop or My Mom Will Shoot,” getting the script for a film with the eventual tagline “He was dead…but he got better” and not speed-dialing their agent in a desperate search for contractual wiggle room. Under the watchful eye of returning co-writers/directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, Statham reprises his role of scowling, ultra-violent hit man Chev Chelios for another relentlessly silly stunt reel that sees Chev in hot pursuit of the baddie who stole his heart and replaced it with an artificial one that requires constant jolts of electricity to continue functioning.
Opens wide.

“Desert Dream”
On the desolate Mongolian steppes, Chinese helmer Zhang Lu finds a strange poetry to the breathtakingly slow pace of life, transcending subject and geography to showcase the universal language of compassion. Planting trees to hold off the encroaching sands from his farm, Hungai (Bat-ulzii) is abandoned by his wife, who leaves with their hearing-impaired daughter in search of a doctor. A North Korean political refugee arrives with her son, seeking sanctuary, and slowly bonds with Hungai and his rural way of life despite the constant and unassailable language barrier that exists between them. In Korean and Mongolian with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Every Little Step”
There’s a deliciously Ouroboros irony to this documentary that follows the hopes and dreams of wide-eyed hopefuls desperate to be plucked from background obscurity by landing a role in the Broadway revival of “A Chorus Line” — the classic tale of wide-eyed hopefuls desperate to be plucked from background obscurity by… In 2006, James D. Stern and Adam Del Deo were on hand to capture the casting of the revival of the late Michael Bennett’s famed musical, which whittled down nearly 3000 would-be stars to two dozen slots in the spotlight. The grueling process is intercut with archival footage of the origins of this celebrated story.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“The Golden Boys”
Writer/director Daniel Adams returns with his first film in 12 years, an adaptation of Joseph Lincoln’s 1915 page-turner “Cap’n Eri” that demonstrates that while the body may whither, the heart remains ageless. Bruce Dern, Rip Torn and David Carradine star as a trio of salty seadogs-turned-cantankerous crusty barnacles on Cape Cod who deem the only way to keep their house in order is for one of their number to get married. A quick ad in the paper leads to the arrival of a mail order bride (Mariel Hemingway) whose presence upsets their plans when the wrong captain falls in love.
Opens in limited release.


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…


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. 


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

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.


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.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



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.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.