Chock Full Of Spock

Chock Full Of Spock (photo)

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The arrival of “Star Trek” signals the start of blockbuster season (in our orbit, “Wolverine” doesn’t count), and the indie world wastes no time with responding in kind with a few big name players of its own.

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Atom Egoyan landed himself a Palme d’Or nomination at last year’s Cannes for the latest of his patented multi-stranded narratives of introspection, this one a meditation on the marginalization of truth and the role of technology in the post-9/11 mindset. Devon Bostick stars as Simon, an orphaned student whose class assignment translating a newspaper article about the would-be martyrdom of a pregnant woman has personal ramifications when he writes a fictionalized op-ed from the perspective of the now-grown child that takes on a life of its own once it hits the web.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Audience of One”
Pastor-turned-director-turned-studio-mogul Richard Gazowsky appealed to his congregation’s generous spirit after receiving what he described as a “prophetic whisper” to make movies for God. Documentarian Mike Jacobs shadows the proceedings, as Gazowsky, having transformed the church into a makeshift movie studio, invites his dedicated team of true believers to hunt the white whale with him in the form of a $50 million biblical science-fiction epic which, he maintains, will reshape the landscape of faith-based filmmaking.
Opens in New York.

“Flower in the Pocket”
True to the style of emerging Malaysian New Wave cinema, first-time filmmaker Liew Seng Tat’s no-frills parable about a trio of plucky prepubescents maintains a strict emotional distance, inviting viewers to dictate their own level of involvement. With their workaholic father too busy tending the mannequins he fixes for a living to pay them mind, spirited brothers Li Ahn and Li Ohm roam the neighborhood with friend Ayu (Amira Nasuha), a fatherless misfit whose mother radiates a warm, nurturing glow that is at once both alien and alluring. In Mandarin with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

Inspired by John Cassavetes’s 1980 thriller “Gloria,” which landed star Gena Rowlands her second Oscar nomination, French arthouse director Erick Zonca makes his English-language debut, transplanting the action from New York to Los Angeles. Tilda Swinton, who could make a car insurance commercial compelling, stars as the titular shambolic drunk who assists in kidnapping the son of a fellow AA member (Kate del Castillo), but finds the ransom hard to come by after her booze-fueled antics run her afoul of some Mexican thugs.
Opens in limited release.

“Kabei – Our Mother”
Prolific Japanese helmer Yoji Yamada marks the awe-inspiring career milestone of an 80th feature film with a traditionalist period piece musing on his nation’s ever-present burden of post-war shame and the all-important role of family. In 1940s Tokyo, professor Shigeru Nogami (Mitsugoro Bando) finds himself imprisoned for transgressions against the official record of the Japanese invasion of China. In the outside world, the sympathetic but silent community rallies to the aid of his wife (Sayuri Yoshinaga), who struggles to raise her two daughters without her husband’s support.
Opens in Hawaii.

“Little Ashes”
Brit director Paul Morrison (“Wondrous Oblivion”) takes the reins of writer Philippa Goslett’s debut script, with the latter taking creative license in depicting the fiercely debated homosexual relationship between the young Salvador Dalí and poet Federico García Lorca (which Dali has always flatly denied) as fact. A pre-“Twilight” Robert Pattinson stars as the renowned Spanish surrealist, who becomes Bella Swan to Lorca’s Edward Cullen as the gay dramatist and poet (played by Javier Beltrán) pursues Dalí with relentless vigor throughout their long friendship.
Opens in limited release.

“Love ‘N Dancing”
Despite its well-intentioned escapist premise, this latest offering from “She’s All That” director Robert Iscove seems the sort of sickly sweet affair where you wonder how people this wholesome and good-looking can pretend to have the type of problems anyone real can relate to. Amy Smart stars as a bored English teacher whose untapped talent on the dance floor catches the eye of a swing dancing champion (Tom Malloy, who also scripts and produces), leading to an invitation to partner with him at the upcoming national championship.
Opens in limited release.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


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.