Cons, Corporate and Otherwise

Cons, Corporate and Otherwise (photo)

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Your guide to what’s new in theaters this week: Offbeat foreign fare compliments star-studded domestic offerings, alongside some intriguing and inventive docs.

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“Anaglyph Tom (Tom With Puffy Cheeks)”
Forty years after “Tom, Tom, The Piper’s Son,” his groundbreaking interpretation of Thomas Edison’s turn-of-the-century short, experimentalist and paracinema pioneer Ken Jacobs returns to Edison’s original print, this time with a mind to work his singular magic in gloriously vibrant 3-D. Employing digital technology to isolate actors and images and intermingle the themes of his 1969 film with present day footage of the economic crisis, Jacobs orchestrates a cinematic ballet where the past and the present literally dance together before our eyes.
Opens in New York.

“Angels and Demons”
Despite the fact that some viewers who turned out to see Ron Howard’s lumbering, talk-heavy 2006 blockbuster “The Da Vinci Code” are rumored to still be asleep, Howard and star Tom Hanks are back with a second helping, offering up another yak-tion-packed alternative to the summertime CGI smackdown. Adapted from Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci” prequel, this film sees Hanks reprise his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, who’s summoned to the Vatican to investigate a purported Illuminati conspiracy involving a plot to murder cardinals and steal nuclear material.
Opens wide.

“The Brothers Bloom”
Once again showcasing an uncanny ability to teach an old genre new tricks, Rian
Johnson’s much-delayed fantastical crime caper finally arrives in theaters more than four agonizingly long years since his debut, the wonderfully hazy high school noir “Brick.” Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody star as a pair of legendary career grifters who, with their longtime sidekick Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), lay it all on the line for that always perilous “one last con,” relieving a beautiful heiress (Rachel Weisz) of her fortune.
Opens in limited release.

“Big Man Japan”
Not one of those films best enjoyed under the influence (which seems to have devolved into code for “it’s crap”), “Big Man Japan” is so outlandish that no amount of narcotics could possibly make it any stranger. A directorial debut for Japanese comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto (who also stars and co-scripts), this blend of “Hancock” and “Godzilla” finds reality TV star and part-time 50-foot warrior Masaru Daisatou battling giant monsters and tiny ratings as he struggles to cope with the ongoing pressure of protecting his city. In Japanese with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Kassim The Dream”
Few stories deliver the pre-packaged narrative punch (no pun intended) of Ugandan child-soldier-turned-champion-boxer Kassim Ouma, the center of Kief Davidson’s documentary. Kidnapped by rebel forces at age six and forced to commit atrocities, Ouma found an escape through boxing for the Ugandan military team. Opportunistically defecting to the United States during an exhibition tour, the fighter found himself broke and alone and pursued his own unique interpretation of the American dream (peace of mind), rising through the ranks of the sport on his way to becoming the Junior Middleweight Champion of the world.
Opens in Los Angeles.

Taking the treacherous triangle of James Cain’s “The Postman Always Rings Twice” and relocating it to an idyllic yet stiflingly depressed river town west of Berlin, cult German writer/director Christian Petzold follows his 2007 thriller “Yella” with this disquieting sensual drama that should further enhance his international reputation. Benno Fürmann stars as Thomas, a dishonorably discharged veteran whose trip home for his mother’s funeral leads to an encounter with brutish drunk Ali (Hilmi Sozer) and Ali’s aloof wife Laura (“Yella”‘s Nina Hoss). With Ali away for a long weekend in his native Turkey, Thomas and Laura begin an illicit liaison that slowly spirals into inevitable tragedy. In German and Turkish with subtitles.
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.