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Blue Skies and Black Metal

Blue Skies and Black Metal (photo)

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This week’s slate gathers together so many big name stars in one place you’d think it was Oscar night already.

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“Across The Hall”
A stripped-down neo-noir with a twist, this feature debut for filmmaker Alex Merkin began as a 2005 short (starring Adrian Grenier, which can be found online here). Grenier didn’t return, but Mike Vogel takes his place as Julian, a young man who races to a seedy hotel where his best friend’s wayward fiancée (Brittany Murphy) and another man have aroused the suspicions of his pal, who’s holed up “across the hall” with a bottle of whiskey and a gun.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Armored”
Having garnered a great deal of attention with his grungy murder mystery debut “Kontroll,” American-born Hungarian helmer Nimród Antal first made his mark in Hollywood with the solid but forgettable “Vacancy.” He returns with another mostly single-location potboiler that’s a throwback to the slow-burning, character-driven action flicks of old. Columbus Short fronts an ensemble cast that Matt Dillon, Jean Reno, Laurence Fishburne and Skeet Ulrich. Short plays Ty Hackett, a rookie employee and the lone voice of conscience amongst a veteran crew of security guards who hatch a plan to steal $42 million from an armored truck.
Opens wide.

“Before Tomorrow”
Madeline Ivalu and Marie-Hélène Cousineau co-direct this gentle Inuit drama that marks the first feature of the Arnait Video Collective, an organization dedicated to the preservation of the age-old culture’s unique perspective from the point of view of its women. Exec produced by Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn, the duo who guided “The Fast Runner” to such great acclaim, this 19th century period piece sees a wise Inuit elder (Ivalu) and her young grandson (Paul Dylan-Ivalu) depart their village for an isolated island where they will prepare to hoard food for the coming winter. In Inuktitut with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

11302009_brothers3.jpg“Brothers”
Since Jake Gyllenhaal was once tapped to take over for Tobey Maguire to play Spider-Man when longtime Peter Parker famously claimed a back injury on “Seabiscuit,” who better than the “Jarhead” star to step in to comfort the wife of Maguire’s Sam Cahill, a soldier who’s away at war. Natalie Portman plays the woman caught in between the pair when Cahill returns from a tour of duty in Afghanistan where he was presumed dead. A haunted man who’s unable to reacclimate to civilian life, Cahill doesn’t take it well when he learns that his baby bro has taken his place in Jim Sheridan’s remake of the Susanne Bier’s 2004 Danish drama “Brødre.”
Opens wide.

“Everybody’s Fine”
Following the painful self-parody of “Righteous Kill,” the venerable Robert De Niro bounces back with what’s being reported as a return to form at the center of Kirk Jones’ remake of Italian director Giuseppe Tornatore’s quietly contemplative 1990 road movie. With his grown children having all inexplicably canceled their annual holiday stopover, De Niro’s fastidious widower Frank sets off to pay them each a surprise visit, dropping in on slacker composer Rob (Sam Rockwell), Vegas dancer Rosie (Drew Barrymore) and career woman Amy (Kate Beckinsale), and coming to the realization that he doesn’t know them as well as he’d like.
Opens wide.

“FILM IST. a girl & a gun”
Charlie Chaplin was once quoted saying, “All I need to make a film is a park bench, a policeman and a pretty girl.” Austrian archivist and filmmaker Gustav Deutsch goes a long way towards proving Chaplin’s point with this collage of early film stock that offers a whirlwind tour through cinema’s formative years. In five acts, Deutsch mixes imagery ranging from propaganda to pornography during the first four and a half decades of cinema, presenting the birth pains of the burgeoning medium as preoccupied as it is now with eroticism, voyeurism, and violence.
Opens in New York.

“Gigante”
Adrián Biniez picked up the Best Debut Award at this year’s Berlin Film Festival for this minimalist, innocent-as-kittens romance starring Horacio Camandule as Jara, a Uruguayan supermarket security guard who pines over the completely oblivious object of his affection, store janitor Julia (Leonor Svarcas), via the store’s surveillance cameras. When potential layoffs threaten his crush, Jara must spring into action… or at least step up in the low-key fashion appropriate for Biniez’s deliberately paced charmer. Think “Goodbye Dragon Inn” without the five-minute static shot of an empty theater (which is actually awesome, btw).
Opens in New York.

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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.