Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking Outside the Box (photo)

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A week loaded with oh-so-worthy awards season contenders is offset with the comic relief of Jim Carrey’s performance captured flailing, George Clooney’s self-deluded staring, and the teasing promise of an affordable(!) trip to the ballet.

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“The Box”
You could make the argument that if Richard Kelly could only get the whole world to come over to his house and listen to his record collection, he might not feel the need to make films at all. That said, his fall from grace following the flop of “Southland Tales” was so total that he went from the director anointed as the hipster’s David Lynch to the arthouse M. Night Shyamalan overnight. With much riding on this comeback, Kelly has turned to Richard Matheson’s short story “Button, Button,” previously immortalized as an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” for his source for this story of a mysterious stranger (Frank Langella) who presents a seemingly impossible moral dilemma to a financially troubled suburban couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden).
Opens wide.

“A Christmas Carol”
While the eerily artificial presentation of “The Polar Express” ultimately didn’t harm its box office numbers, the much-derided “dead-eye syndrome” that inhibited Tom Hanks ensured that Robert Zemeckis’ first venture into the world of performance capture films could only go up, qualitywise. Zemeckis is back for another crack at a Yuletide tale, this time with Jim Carrey donning the green-screen suit to play more than half a dozen different roles in this adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic. Most prominently, he inhabits the role of unrepentant miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who finds himself visited by ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future (all played by Carrey), imploring him to change his ways.
Opens wide in 3D and IMAX.

Have chronicled both the Yes Men and the enchanting directorial exploits of Wisconsin’s own Mark Borchardt, filmmaker Chris Smith continues to gravitate towards indelible misfits and their attempts to get the world’s attention with this documentary portrait of noted doomsayer and self-described investigative reporter Michael Ruppert. Employing the same stream-of-consciousness confessional format as James Toback’s recent “Tyson,” Smith’s film takes the form of a series of grimly disturbing monologues in which the former Los Angeles police officer makes his case for the camera as to how our misguided energy policy and unregulated financial industry will ultimately bring about the collapse of western civilization.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on November 13th.

“La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet”
Let’s face it, even in a good economy, the high ticket prices of a ballet performance ensure that the closest most of us will ever get to see some pirouetting is tossing “Billy Elliot” into the DVD player. But now, thanks to legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman, we don’t just see the stage, but get to peek inside the hallowed halls of the Paris Opera for an intimate look at the world-renowned Ballet de l’Opera National.
Opens in New York.

With awards season in full swing, a quick glance at some of the potential Oscar-baiters confirms that this year apartheid is the new Holocaust. Focusing on the revolution as opposed to the conflict, “Vantage Point” director Pete Travis’ adaptation of journalist Robert Harvey’s book plays out far away from the political turmoil in South Africa in an idyllic country manner in Somerset, England. Brit thesp Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as ANC information director (and future South African president) Thabo Mbeki, who amidst tense negotiations with the National Party discovers a kindred spirit in Will Esterhuyse (William Hurt), a white university professor.
Opens in limited release.

“The Fourth Kind”
You’ve only got to look at the business “Paranormal Activity” is currently doing to understand why filmmakers return time and again to “found footage” and “documentary reenactment” as the medium of choice for their no-frills thrill rides. (It’s bloody cheap, for starters.) This feature debut from director Olatunde Osunsanmi (a Joe Carnahan protégé) announced itself via a meta-movie viral marketing campaign featuring star Milla Jovovich as herself. The Ukranian actress stars as Dr. Abigail Tyler, a psychologist investigating patient reports of alien abduction in the sleepy town of Nome, Alaska. Maybe we’ll get really lucky and they’ll take her husband.
Opens wide.

“A French Gigolo”
Striking a more somber note than her other recent works, this bittersweet romance from French author, actress and filmmaker Josiane Balasko offers a wounded take on the adage that money can’t buy you love, but it does allow you to rent it for a little while. What begins as a simple business attraction between Judith (Nathalie Baye), a wealthy but lonely divorcée, and Marco (Eric Caravaca), a married, working-class gigolo, gradually evolves into a deeper emotional connection, highlighting the many parallels and the hypocrisies that exist between marriage and prostitution. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Make The Yuletide Gay”
The latest from queer cinema director Rob Williams, this gay relationship drama once again showcases that, as far as cinema is concerned, Christmas is little more than an excuse to accumulate a few hundred pairs of socks and a naff sweater from Grandma, and engage in a row with your family. Keith Jordan fronts this mug of Christmas cheer as Olaf “Gunn” Gunnunderson, a gay college student who retreats into the closet when he goes home for the holidays, only to be dragged out kicking and screaming by his boyfriend (former “Degrassi: The Next Generation” star Adamo Ruggiero), who shows up unexpectedly on the Gunnundersons’ doorstep.
Opens in Los Angeles.


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.