Fantastic Fest: Uwe Boll, Auteur

Fantastic Fest: Uwe Boll, Auteur (photo)

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Two things spread quickly at film festivals: upper respiratory tract infections and buzz. And the buzz spreading around Fantastic Fest last week was that the impossible had happened: that Uwe Boll, the infamous director of notoriously (and, at times, enjoyably) terrible films like “Alone in the Dark” and “BloodRayne,” had made a good movie. Film School Rejects declared Boll’s new film “Rampage” “sick, violent, and fun”; /Film called it “not just good in comparison to the rest of his filmography, but a good movie in its own right.”

Usually Boll’s movies aren’t just bad, they’re splendidly bad. They’re lazily plotted, haphazardly shot and confusingly edited, and yet, somehow, in the alchemical confluence of all that badness they take on a certain transcendent magic. Many of his past efforts were financed through a now-defunct German tax shelter that, if I understand it correctly, only required independent film investors to pay taxes if their films turned a profit, providing a financial incentive for failure. Nevertheless, the buzz was quite insistent: “Rampage” was good. Lured by curiosity to the film’s final Fantastic Fest screening, I discovered that while “Rampage” is far more competently made than Boll’s worst films (or best, depending on your point of view), it’s also stripped of much of those earlier films’ charm and it tells a story that, while lucid (if ludicrous), is completely revolting. To put it another way, “Rampage” announces that Boll isn’t a terrible filmmaker, just a terrible misanthrope who hates humanity and wants nothing more than to see it destroyed.

“Rampage” is about a sullen young man named Bill (Brendan Fletcher) who’s grown tired of his coddling parents, his anarchist best friend and the guy who makes his macchiato in the morning with too little foam. Convinced by the mainstream media of the world’s impending doom at the hands of war, overpopulation and environmental decay, Bill, a Travis Bickle with no Iris to focus his madness upon, straps on a homemade suit of armor and goes on a killing spree in his hometown, taking revenge on the people who’ve crossed him (let that be a lesson in coffee making, baristas), as well as any random bystanders he happens upon.

10062009_Rampage.jpgThere are times when Boll seems to be critiquing the hypocrisy of killing someone in order to make a political point, an idea with more than a little relevance in our modern world. And only the staunchest of right-wingers would disagree that our civilization could very well consume itself into oblivion. But is genocide the best solution? “Rampage” seems to argue that it is. By replaying audio clips that recite our society’s excesses and misplaced values (the figure of 70 million new people brought into an already crowded world every year comes up quite a bit) and by filming Bill’s mayhem with a fetishistic macho zeal, Boll essentially argues that anyone who disagrees with his viewpoint is unworthy of the gift of life. You have to wonder if Boll, who’s been an enormous punching bag for much of his directorial career and has even taken to physically fighting his critics on occasion (including at Fantastic Fest), has come to genuinely despise opposing viewpoints. “Rampage” is a blast of pure venom at the viewer, a “Funny Games”-style provocation from a filmmaker who might not necessarily want to challenge his audience or make them question their complicity in the violence that takes place onscreen, but wastes no opportunity to show how much he simply and utterly hates them.


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.