DID YOU READ

Running Late

Running Late (photo)

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As we wind down to year’s end, we find Michael Haneke’s Cannes conqueror fashionably late to the party, while Paramount waited three years to release the Renée Zellweger horror flick “Case 39” and a mere half-century later, audiences will finally see the fruits of an unproduced Tennessee Williams screenplay. Throw in a pair of modern Korean films and you’ve got yourself an exciting way to start the new year.

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“Case 39”
We can only hope it’s no reflection of quality that this latest volley from the creepy-kid subgenre sat on the shelf for so long that its director, Christian Alvart, had another project (daffy sci-fi chiller “Pandorum”) wrapped, released and mostly ignored before this domestic thriller even made it to our shores. The German helmer’s English-language debut (at least chronologically) has Renée Zellweger playing a kindly social worker who wrestles away the innocuous looking young Lilith (Jodelle Ferland) from seemingly abusive parents, only to discover that the little angel might not be as benevolent as she appears. Ian McShane, who has yet to transfer his small screen authority to movies, co-stars as a creeped-out child therapist.
Opens wide.

“The Chaser”
A huge hit in its native South Korea, Na Hong-jin’s directorial debut centers on a fallen police officer-turned-pimp who must dust off his detective skills when his prostitutes begin to go missing. Kim Yoon-suk stars as the mack daddy who believes he’s stumbled onto the case of a serial killer, but finds little help from his former colleagues. Although it sounds like the kind of film no American studio would touch, Leonardo DiCaprio is said to be eyeing an American remake for Warner Bros.
Opens in New York.

12282009_teardrop1.jpg“The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond”
For a first-time feature filmmaker, actress-turned-helmer Jodie Markell couldn’t make her debut with a sturdier piece of material than this recently unearthed screenplay of societal scandal and sexual jealousy penned by the iconic playwright Tennessee Williams. Bryce Dallas Howard ruffles some feathers as the decidedly unwelcome wannabe socialite Fisher Willow, who takes Memphis society by storm when she recruits the cash-strapped son of the help (Chris Evans) to be her arm candy for the social season and silently seethes when her business arrangement with her escort becomes something more right as he falls for another. Ann-Margaret and Ellen Burstyn lend their support to this Southern Gothic throwback that’s been kicking around the festival circuit since premiering in Toronto in 2008.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Old Partner”
A poetic portrait of the companionship between a man and his beast of burden, South Korean helmer Chung Ryoul-Lee’s unashamedly simply documentary charts the twilight year in a four-decade long friendship between Choi, an elderly farmer, and his trusty ox, much to the chagrin of his wife, who views the great hulk as something akin to her husband’s idiot college buddy. As Choi spends an inordinate amount of time feeding and grooming his trusty companion, the missus wonders why her 80-year-old husband continues to sweat out a day’s work with an ox when he could easily diminish his workload with a tractor. In Korean with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“The White Ribbon”
Perhaps a bit narked that his American remake of “Funny Games” went largely unremarked upon, Michael Haneke returned to Germany to cook up this slow-burning exercise in escalating tension and spiraling incident that finally landed the Palme d’Or that had long eluded him. It says much about his brand of moviemaking that this mostly silent, achingly slow study of a rural German village sliding towards the brink — a parable of how ignorance, apathy and base human nature combined to birth the Nazi movement — is one of his more accessible works. In German with subtitles.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles before expanding into limited release on January 22nd.

[Additional photo: “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond,” Paladin, 2009]

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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.