Coloring Outside the Lines

Coloring Outside the Lines (photo)

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Sometimes, there’s no pleasing critics and cinephiles — they’ll dreamily wish someone like Turkish arthouse force Nuri Bilge Ceylan would break his introspective paradigm and make a genre film, and then when he does, kinda, with “Three Monkeys,” everyone compliments it tamely with canned praise. “Suspenseful!” was a common pullquote, though “pulpy” was a term I didn’t expect to see but did, in the New York Times.

Pulpy? Ceylan’s movie is as elliptical and internalized and visually elusive as anything by Hou, but it’s as if actually having a story to tell automatically takes you down a notch or two. And the flavor of the tale defines what the film is for most critics, living as we do in a world still oversaturated in the aura of noir.

The trap of having a film about crime and fate labeled “neo-noir” may well be inescapable, even if the story per se has nothing to do with classic noir ideas, and has roots in Greek tragedy, Zola and the Middle Eastern traditions of family honor and retribution. For some reason, just calling “Three Monkeys” a Turkish noir reduces it, ghettoizes it as an Asian lift of themes that we ethnocentrically think are ours alone, or at least belong to American cinema by way of French fatalism and German style. (Funny, I don’t remember hearing “No Country for Old Men” cornered as a neo-noir — are we, critically speaking, caught up in Americianizing the world again here?)

I think the least we can say is that what most people think of as noir themes are as old as Aeschylus’ last papyrus scrap, and we probably should not define many millennia of human storytelling with a cool movie genre that lasted, technically, all of 25 years at best.

Typical of Ceylan, we come at the narrative gist sideways, by way of innocent witnesses, who stumble upon a body and a car on a night road — we see a man dash from the scene into the shadows, but they don’t. Soon thereafter, a politician up for re-election offers to pay his chauffeur Eyüp (Yavuz Bingol) to take the rap for him and spend a year in a jail, away from his son Ismail (Ahmet Rifat Şungar), an aimless, sleep-in student, and Hacer (Hatice Aslon), the boy’s sexy, nagging mother, both living in an Istanbul condo.

1212009_ThreeMonkeys3.jpgThe year begins to pass, the politico loses his contest, the mother and son decide to bargain for an advance on the money in order to buy a car, and things get horrifically complicated emotionally. The plot rolls downhill with a familiar momentum, but there are potholes and cliffs along the way that are less about genre and more about love and its propensity to devour itself.

Still, Ceylan’s movies are not conceptual — “Climates” (2006), his best film, is about a silently dissolving marriage, and that’s all — but textural. Virtually every hyperrealist scene is framed several degrees away from orthodoxy, most of the action happens off-frame or at a hypnotizing distance, and characters never reveal what they think is going on but are not sure about. It’s a syntax of anxiety, shot under steely, brooding Mediterranean skies, so we don’t need to be told that when the boiling Eyüp comes home, finally, there will be trouble of an irreparable sort, but we still don’t know what form it will take. Ceylan won Best Director at Cannes, his fourth award in five years there, and fittingly, “Three Monkeys” is best seen as an art film vision of modern life, not at all a genre piece.


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.