A Child’s Eye View of Tribulation

A Child’s Eye View of Tribulation (photo)

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The best films about childhood rely heavily on an alchemic bond between filmmaker and actor, and the connection between director So Yong Kim and the two very young leads of her new film “Treeless Mountain” must have been nothing short of miraculous. The story of Jin (Hee-Yeon Kim) and Bin (Song-Hee Kim), sisters left in the care of an indifferent, hard-drinking aunt while their mother goes in search of their absentee father, is a marvel of naturalism. Taken out of school and abandoned to wander the village all day, six-year-old Jin and four-year-old Bin learn to be resourceful, catching grasshoppers to grill and sell, saving up coins in a piggy bank in hopes that it’ll make their mother come back for them as she promised. I spoke to the Korean-born Kim about returning to her own childhood home to shoot the film, avoiding sentimentality and that whole pesky “neo-neo realism” thing.

Your first film, “In Between Days,” is about a girl who had come from Korea and was living here and struggling with the experience. What led you to actually go back to Korea to shoot “Treeless Mountain”?

This film was always set in Korea, and it was really important to me personally, going back to my own home country to tell this story. It was more difficult than I thought it would be, but I’m glad that I had the chance to work there as a filmmaker and explore the country, to see it with different eyes. When I was writing the script, all the places that I located the scenes in were based on my memory from 1970-something. To go back and see these locations — a lot of the places haven’t changed at all. It brought such a sentiment of connection for me.

What were some of the things that made it more difficult than you’d expected?

It’s one thing to dream of shooting a film in your home town, but it’s another to implement all the logistics of having your crew be half American and half Korean. There was a huge language barrier, and also a cultural barrier in the beginning. It was a rocky start. But something magical happened, which, thinking back, was a miracle — even though the first week of the shoot was very difficult and intense for everyone, after that it was so smooth. Everyone got along. It was like people were meditating. Everyone connected, and language didn’t become an issue.

04212009_treelessmountain2.jpgDespite “Treeless Mountain” being about two neglected children, I don’t think the film’s in any way sentimental. What that something on your mind when making it?

I’m constantly worried about that. It was a huge fear for me, before finishing the script, during pre-production, even when I was shooting, especially when I was editing. That was a huge monster that I had to tackle. When I watch anything that makes me cry or feel like “wasn’t that cute,” I’m like, “Oh no. That film’s not gonna stay with me.” It becomes this emotional candy bar. You’ll overdose on it and then forget about it. I didn’t want to make a film like that. I wanted to treat [the girls] like they were adults, with respect and a sense of the strong characters that they both had.

I was struck, watching the film, by how much it’s from the girls’ point of view — there’s an immersion in this childhood world. How did you put yourself in that space?

I wanted to make sure that the camera was always on the eye level of the kids, to convey the sense that you’re in these situations with them instead of observing them from far away. And I always wanted to start with the close-ups of each face, so that you could see these expressions that are so pure and honest from both girls. I tried to convey as much intimacy with them as possible. I completely trusted them and their ability to be in this film.


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.