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A Christian Baleout

A Christian Baleout (photo)

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All eyes might be on that resort town in the south of France, but we here at home can enjoy another bumper crop of releases comprising both arthouse excellence and blockbuster entertainment. Oh, and the Wayans brothers have a new movie out, too.

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“The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story”
The unsung heroes (no pun intended) of the Mouse House’s most celebrated animated features, Oscar-winning composers Richard and Robert Sherman wrote the delightful ditties that were the core of hits like “The Jungle Book,” “Mary Poppins” and Disney theme park rides like “It’s a Small World.” Co-directed by their writer/producer sons, this doc charts the Sherman brothers’ ability to make beautiful music together even as their personal relationship was falling apart.
Opens in limited release.

“Burma VJ”
Danish helmer Anders Østergaard’s award-winning activist exposé highlights the extraordinary actions of the DVB (Democratic Voice of Burma), an organization whose members risk their lives to bring international attention to the plight of their countrymen under the military junta. Following the “Man on Wire” model of intermingling dramatic reconstruction with first-hand footage obtained illegally and at grave risk, “Burma VJ” documents the thousands that took to the streets in 2007 to protest for democracy. In English and Burmese with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Dance Flick”
Perhaps to clear the air since the “Meet the Spartans/Disaster Movie” duo of Aaron Seltzer and Jason Friedberg have come and gone, the Wayans brothers return to the genre spoofs they popularized with the “Scary Movie” series, only this time with Damien making his directorial debut. “Dance Flick” is very much a family affair, as Damon Jr. stars opposite white chick Shoshana Bush in a send-up of cross-cultural romances and yes, dance flicks, employing the now customary array of gross-out gags and slapstick schtick. One can only hope that if they can at least confine themselves to the genre they are allegedly spoofing, it will be a step in the right direction. See what we did there?
Opens wide.

“Easy Virtue”
After almost a decade on hiatus, Australian helmer Stephan Elliot marks his return with a bright and breezy adaptation of Noël Coward’s somewhat dry stage melodrama, refining it into a cinematic comedy of manners. Jessica Biel tries for serious actress status (which begs the question of why she wastes her time with dreck like “Next”?) as Larita Huntington, a fiercely independent young American widow who arrives across the pond on the arm of naïve aristocrat John Whittaker (Ben Barnes), to the amusement of his father (Colin Firth) and abject horror of his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas).
Opens in limited release.

“Ghosts of the Heartland”
Writer/director Allen Blumberg’s third outing in the big chair is a period noir that revisits the Red Scare from the point of view of a Chinese community wrestling the boot of McCarthyism from their chests. Philip Moon stars as a big city reporter who returns to his hometown of Millville to discover that the corrupt mayor (Michael Santoro) has politicized the growing concern over Communist infiltration and sharpened it into a weapon of extortion and intimidation against the town’s immigrant population.
Opens in New York.

“The Girlfriend Experience”
Rebounding from his grueling four-hour “Che,” director Steven Soderbergh delivers a low-key dissection of our faltering capitalist sensibilities that harks back to both “Bubble” and his 1989 breakthrough debut, though this time out the sex and lies are captured on DV. Set across a jumbled week in the run-up to last year’s election, and brisk at a mere 77 minutes, the film star adult movie actress Sasha Grey as upwardly mobile call girl Chelsea, who offers not just sex but a full range of luxuriant intimacy to a wide variety of wealthy clients at a time when everything is a commodity and commodities are rapidly losing their value.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.



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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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.