DID YOU READ

Corneliu Porumboiu Gets the Last Word

Corneliu Porumboiu Gets the Last Word (photo)

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“Police, Adjective” is one of the year’s most striking films, the type that will be embraced by some and derided by others for its bone dry humor, its solemnly long takes (including scrolling down hand-written police reports) and the fact that its climax pivots on the dictionary definition of “conscience.” It is, in some ways, an extension of Corneliu Porumboiu’s first film, “12:08 East of Bucharest,” which dazzled as much with its debate over the hazy recollections of the Romanian Revolution as with its startling final image of snow falling over the city of Vaslui. “Adjective” is similarly wintry, following the daily grind of a policeman (Dragos Bucur) assigned to follow a student suspected of dealing marijuana to his friends and arriving at a conclusion that leads his boss to pull out the Merriam-Webster’s to convince him otherwise. While at the Toronto Film Festival, Porumboiu took some time to talk about the film’s origins, its mixed reception (including two prizes from this year’s Cannes) and why he needs to start playing sports again. [Spoilers ahead.]

How did “Police, Adjective” come about?

After “12:08,” I started four different stories, but at the end, a friend of mine, a policeman, told me a story, a small case of conscience. And he told me he had a case like [the one in the film], and he didn’t want to solve it. I was touched by a story like that because usually you see the movie and it’s very big cases and all the time, it is possible that policemen can save the world. I [also] heard another story about a brother who betrayed his brother. So these were the two stories that I started with.

12292009_policeadj3.jpg This film suggests that many things are in decay in contemporary Romanian society, but do you feel language in particular has been a catalyst?

No, I think we’re living in a world [where] each [person] has his own individuality, more and more in how we communicate, what are our values. At the same time, there’s a lot of loneliness in my movies; the characters I construct, they are living in a bubble. The starting point [for “Police, Adjective] was how we understand each other, what is the background, what is their representation of the world for each one of us. It’s a world that’s very fragmented and each one has his own truth. For me, it’s a quite absurd if we follow a dictionary because sometimes we can use words to speak to each other and after that, we reuse words and there are so many [words] used, they lose their meaning.

It requires a certain confidence to shoot such long scenes, and it’s been a point of contention among audiences — why did you feel it was necessary for this film?

When I’m making the movie, I don’t think about the audience. I’m interested in finding the spirit of my character. So [in doing research], I saw that the policeman spent so much time waiting and following and at the end, it’s a movie of meanings and sense. It’s real time there, but in my [film], it becomes absurd time – watching, waiting, watching, waiting — that could [demonstrate] a certain psychology that’s unexplainable.

I’ve spoken with a lot of people and [some of them] don’t believe that at the end [the main character is] convinced by his chief [to make the arrest] because his chief gives him the meaning, gives him the sense. A lot of people like to think that he was forced. But I think maybe this kind of audience didn’t enter into the first part of the movie. It’s weird because yeah, the people need the explanation, but for me, it was more important to show character — he’s like a hunter, you see that he’s born for this, he likes what he’s doing, but at the same time, he has this conscience problem and he’s in between and how could he do this.

Much has been made of a Romanian New Wave that includes Cristian Mungiu (“4 Months, 3 Weeks & 2 Days”) and Cristi Puiu (“The Death of Mr. Lăzărescu”), but as a filmmaker, what do you make of that label?

As a director, you choose your own way, you choose your own cinema. Of course, cinema is an art, it’s been around 100 years, so you have a lot of forms, you have a lot of types of cinema. I’m quite strict and I have a point of view of cinema, but at the same time, I’m not feeling that this is the ultimate truth. For me, it’s important to have all these kind of movies. At the same time, I want to find my own voice.

12292009_Corneliu1.jpgHow did you actually get interested in cinema?

First, I was studying management in Bucharest [at the Academy of Economic Studies] and after that, I started to go to the cinematheque and there I discovered Chaplin, Antonioni and after that, Polish cinema and Nouvelle Vague Français and after that, I said I want to do this.

You’re the son of a football referee and I was wondering whether that contributed to your interest in language and rules.

No, I think this obsession is coming more from my mother because she was a Romanian teacher – she’s now retired. And [from] my father, I [played] sports when I was a teenager and this helped in my development. Now, I’m smoking too much and drinking too much coffee, so for me, it was very important I [played] sports when I was a teenager. [laughs] That keeps me alive, even now.

“Police, Adjective” is now open in limited release and available on VOD.

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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.