DID YOU READ

More Than Meets the Eye

More Than Meets the Eye (photo)

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This week in theaters, everyone seems to have opted to go dark, with cinemas offering up grieving families, persecuted immigrants, endangered pop singers and the slow death of intimacy in the internet age. This is… supposed to be summer, right?

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“Afghan Star”
With the American version still able to compel 30 million people into a zombie-like trance each week, “Pop Idol” is the latest craze sweeping the nation of Afghanistan, where contestants are subject to a campaign of intimidation that puts Simon Cowell’s abrasive jibes in perspective. Having snagged both the Audience Award and a Directing Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, director Havana Marking goes beyond the bright TV lights to follow four of the season’s finalists, including female contestants under constant threat of violence and death. In English, Pashtu, and Dari with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Break-Up Date”
The feature documentary debut of writer/producer/director Collin Souter, “Break-Up Date” offers a potential contemporary correlation as to why people are staying single longer and longer. Mining a host of heartbroken twenty- and thirty-somethings for their worst break-up stories, Souter ponders the future of a society gripped by social networking and cultural fads (what kind of impatient git goes speed dating anyway?) that have transformed coupling into a global audition process.
Opens in Chicago.

“Chéri”
Between director Stephen Frears, scripter Christopher Hampton and a principle cast including Kathy Bates and Michelle Pfeiffer, this lush period piece carries with it the kind of prepackaged awards season prestige that makes us wonder at its June release date. Based on one of French novelist Colette’s high society page-turners, the film stars Bates as a madam who commands her spoilt offspring Chéri (Rupert Friend) to end his longstanding affair with her sultry former colleague and courtesan, Lea (Pfeiffer), so that she might reap the social benefits of his arranged marriage to the dull and virginal Edmée (Felicity Jones).
Opens in limited release.

“The Crypt”
One-man-indie-horror-band Craig McMahon has carved out a career taking swaggering, good-looking teens, marooning them in an eerie locale and promptly tearing them to pieces. His latest supernatural thriller finds a group of thieving beauties breaking into a labyrinth of catacombs on a mission for Depression era treasure buried with the locals, who are surprisingly keen to hang on to their loot.
Opens in limited release.

“The Hurt Locker”
Kathryn Bigelow has evolved into one of the most popular and successful female directors working today due in part to her preternatural insight into what makes alpha males tick. Her latest, scripted by former journalist Mark Boal (who provided the story for “In the Valley of Elah”) follows an elite army bomb disposal unit in their daily dance with death. Jeremy Renner stars as the headstrong Staff Sergeant William James, who leads subordinates Eldridge (Brian Geraghty) and Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) into a high stakes battle of nerve on the streets of a war-torn Iraq.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Life is Hot in Cracktown”
Adapted from his own collection of short stories, jack-of-all-trades Buddy Giovinazzo narrows down a quarter of vignettes for the big screen, depicting the hardscrabble existence hacked out by the denizens of a drug-ravaged ghetto. Victor Rasuk co-stars as Manny, who works at an all-night bodega and moonlights as a security guard at an upscale hotel, where pre-teen Willy (Ridge Canipe) begs for change outside. Meanwhile, a pre-op transsexual named Marybeth (Kerry Washington) turns tricks to pay for the operation, while petty thug Romeo (Evan Ross) terrorizes the neighborhood at large. Brandon Routh, Illeana Douglas, Desmond Harrington and Lara Flynn Boyle co-star.
Opens in limited release.

“My Sister’s Keeper”
Having demonstrated a deft hand at so-called women’s pictures with “The Notebook,” director Nick Cassavetes turns Jodi Picoult’s somber page-turner into a screen weepie of epic proportions. Pint-sized thespian Abigail Breslin stars as Anna, who sues her parents for emancipation after she discovers she’s been deliberately conceived as a supplier of bone marrow to her leukemia-stricken sister (Sofia Vassilieva) and can stop the painful treatments to help her. Jason Patric and Cameron Diaz co-star as the guilt-stricken parents.
Opens wide.

“New York”
Having made its name peddling bright and cheery song-and-dance romances, Indian outfit Yash Raj Films coughs up a darker take on the immigrant experience post-9/11. Helmer Kabir Khan (“Kabul Express”) chronicles the lives of a trio of NYU students (John Abraham, Katrina Kaif, Neil Nitin Mukesh) who’ve acclimated very nicely to a Western way of life until they suddenly find themselves the victims of prejudice and persecution in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks. In English and Hindi subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

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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…

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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. 

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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-Craft

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?”

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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).

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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.

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

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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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.

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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.

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Forget Public Wifi

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

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Inter-not

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.

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Self Defense

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

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