Uwe Boll’s “Darfur” drama.

Uwe Boll’s “Darfur” drama. (photo)

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Like the part of Cannes you don’t usually hear about, the American Film Market is the largely unglamorous event held every year in L.A. where film buyers and distributors from across the globe come to put the business back in show business, looking at the latest Sofia Coppola film in the same way they look as “The Whiffler,” a comedy about a ‘roided up whiffleball player — that is, as products.

Beginning tomorrow, films like Coppola’s “Somewhere” will be debuting at AFM, as will Noah Baumbach’s “Greenberg” and a host of other attention-worthy endeavors, like the latest from “Teeth” director Mitchell Lichtenstein, “Happy Tears”; the Tribeca fave “The Eclipse”; and two personal highlights of mine from Toronto — the Tilda Swinton melodrama “I Am Love” and Fatih Akin’s “Soul Kitchen.”

But it’s the weird stuff that makes markets so fun. A few I picked out from the AFM catalog:

Uwe Boll gets serious.
As pointed out by Cinematical, the prolific director of video game adaptations has no less than three films at AFM, including the execrable “Rampage” and the Lauren Holly-Luke Perry apocalyptic thriller “The Final Storm.” But the film sure to draw the most curiosity is “Darfur,” starring Billy Zane, Edward Furlong and Boll staple Matt Frewer as American journalists grappling with whether to put down their pens to get involved in the Sudanese conflict. Alas, chances are it won’t be snapped up for U.S. distribution in time for Oscar consideration.

Billy Zane is a triple threat.
Besides “Darfur,” the former “Phantom” star is as ubiquitous here as George Clooney was in Toronto, with the supernatural thriller “Magic Man” (which one IMDb commenter described not so charitably by saying, “Hocus Pocus! You just lost 80 minutes of your life”) and “The Gold Retrievers,” a family film with Steve Guttenberg.

Odd couples abound.
Did you ever think Michael Madsen and Natasha Lyonne would share the screen? Well, meet “Outrage,” a thriller where Lyonne unwittingly takes shelter in the hunting lodge of Madsen’s ex-military sniper. Or how about Backstreet Boy Nick Carter and ’90s teen heartthrob Andrew Keegan as a newfangled Crockett and Tubbs in “Kill Speed,” described as “a high-octane, youth-oriented, ‘Top Gun’ meets ‘Fast & Furious’ tale about best friends who fly home-built, high-tech planes to deliver Mexican-manufactured crystal-meth throughout rural California in order to fund their Hollywood lifestyle.” Throw in Tom Arnold and Greg Grunberg and I’m sold.

As for the old Crockett…
Well, Don Johnson is the lone American starring in the Norwegian comedy “Long Flat Balls II,” directed by sequelizer extraordinaire Harald Zwart, of “Pink Panther 2” fame. In it, he plays a U.S. admiral who meets up with six average Joes pulled into military service for the Norwegian National Guard and hijinks ensue.

Did no one learn from “Street Fighter”?
Even with Guillermo del Toro fave Luke Goss starring as Fox, it’s a bit surprising that the fighting game “Tekken” is being adapted into a feature film. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who’s been down this road before as Shang Tsung in 1995’s “Mortal Kombat,” co-stars in the film about the King of Iron Fist tournament, which, coming from the same writer that gave us “Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever” and “The Marine,” doesn’t give me high hopes that it’ll be a film that will buck the trend of bad video game adaptations.

Finally, there is the “Repo Man” sequel.
Alex Cox’s all-green-screen semi-follow-up to his 1984 cult classic, “Repo Chick,” is also out there in the market, looking for a distributor. Please, someone, pick it up. It’s timely.

[Photo: “Darfur,” Boll KG, 2009]


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.