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Ninjas, Princesses and Old Dogs

Ninjas, Princesses and Old Dogs (photo)

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Families arriving at the multiplex for a little pre/post-turkey entertainment have two choices — separate off into your respective age/gender demographics and indulge yourselves, or stick together in a tragic statement of family unity and purchase seven tickets for “Old Dogs.” The choice, it is yours.

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“Home”
A selection at Cannes 2008 and this year’s Swiss Oscar hopeful, the sophomore feature from Ursula Meier centers on a middle class couple (Isabelle Huppert, Olivier Gourmet) that enjoys bringing up their children away from urban life in the French countryside. However, the construction of a highway near their home leads to a divide between the two on what’s best for their family as the pollution from the cars and the incessant noise begins to drive them a little mad.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on December 18th.

“Me and Orson Welles”
There is no doubt in our minds that if the great and seminal Orson Welles could return from the beyond for one last hurrah, he would take Zac Efron for a muse. But since Welles isn’t around, we’ll have to make do with Christian McKay, the star of a one-man show called “Rosebud: The Lives of Orson Welles,” who was plucked from the off-Broadway production to play mentor to the “High School Musical” star in the latest from Richard Linklater. While there’s no singing required, Efron takes to the stage once more to play Richard Samuels, an untested kid who snags a part in Welles’ Mercury Theatre Company staging of “Julius Caesar,” falls hopelessly for a production assistant (Claire Danes) and receives a tough lesson from the boisterous maverick on the harsh realities of that cruelest of all businesses.
Opens November 25th in New York and Los Angeles.

“Ninja Assassin”
Having honed his skills as second unit director on moody mindbenders such as “Dark City” and “The Matrix” trilogy, New Zealand-born helmer James McTeigue went solo in 2005 with the sorely underrated “V For Vendetta.” Reuniting with “V” producers Joel Silver and the Wachowski brothers, he must’ve seen something he liked on his supporting gig on “Speed Racer,” casting Korean pop star Rain in this bloody martial arts story of vengeance and betrayal. Here, the enigmatic singer/actor portrays a deadly assassin raised by a shadowy crime syndicate who flees into hiding after his former clan attempts to execute him, and returns with the aide of an Europol agent (Naomie Harris) to annihilate his would-be killers.
Opens wide on November 25th.

“Old Dogs”
As fine an example of aspirational four-quadrant family filmmaking as you’ll ever see is this calculated exercise in mass appeal from “Wild Hogs” director Walt Becker. This life lessons comedy sees the freewheeling pair of John Travolta and Robin Williams as best friends Charlie and Dan, forced to shape up when Dan’s ex (Kelly Preston) comes to town and dumps two kids he never knew he had in his lap. Clueless, the duo put themselves through a crash course of kid-centric outdoor activities, presumably to better facilitate scenes where characters get hit in the nuts. Besides serving as the film debut of Travolta and Preston’s real-life daughter Ella Bleu, “Old Dogs” also is the final curtain for the late, great Bernie Mac, who plays a kiddie entertainer named Jimmy Lunchbox.
Opens wide on November 25th.

“The Princess and The Frog”
Animated feature #49 didn’t come easy for Disney, with the last hand-drawn film from the Mouse House being the 2004 cow-centric clunker “Home on the Range.” Since then, Pixar’s John Lasseter took over the animation department and recruited “Little Mermaid” and “Aladdin” writing/directing team Ron Clements and John Musker to reclaim some of that old 2D magic with a story featuring Disney’s first African-American princess. Set in New Orleans’ French Quarter, the film follows young heroine Tiana (voiced by “Dreamgirls”‘ Anika Noni Rose), who journeys deep into the Louisiana bayou in search of a 200-year-old voodoo priestess (Jenifer Lewis) who can lift the curse that has transformed her and her princely suitor into tiny amphibians (who are really good at dancing). Oprah Winfrey, Keith David, Terrence Howard and John Goodman lend their voices to the musical.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles on November 25th; opens wide on December 11th.

“The Private Lives of Pippa Lee”
Battling fellow scion of literary royalty Rodrigo Garcia for supremacy in the women-in-crisis ensemble genre, Rebecca Miller (daughter of Arthur, wife of Daniel Day-Lewis) adapts her own novel for her fourth feature, a character study of one woman’s private nightmare of consumed identity. Pippa (Robin Wright) accompanies her publisher husband (Alan Arkin), 30 years her senior, into a premature stay in a Connecticut retirement community. Bored by having to settle into a daily routine, she reflects back on her life (played as a teen by Blake Lively) filled with memorable characters like her pill-popping mother (Maria Bello), her aunt’s dominatrix girlfriend (Julianne Moore) and her husband’s lunatic ex-wife (Monica Bellucci). Keanu Reeves co-stars as the bad boy who lures Pippa from her stupor.
Opens in limited release.

“The Road”
Families looking to quietly snooze off those turkey sandwiches in the dark can enjoy the ironic spectacle of hardscrabble, post-apocalypse starvation — not to mention some dodgy product placement — courtesy of “The Proposition” director John Hillcoat’s bleak and beautiful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s end-of-the-world page-turner. In yet another intensely committed physical performance, Viggo Mortensen plays the haunted, nameless father, scouring the scorched Earth for food and shelter, gradually surrendering pieces of his own humanity in a desperate bid to protect his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and somehow keep them both alive. Robert Duvall, Guy Pearce and Garret Dillahunt also make appearances.
Opens in limited release on November 25th.

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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.