Tim Rutili Makes the Indie Rock to Indie Film Leap

Tim Rutili Makes the Indie Rock to Indie Film Leap (photo)

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Tim Rutili’s band, Califone, may be at the peak of its powers on its recent album “All My Friends Are Funeral Singers” and, song after song, show no signs of waning. What’s more, Rutili, as a director, has leveraged Califone’s songcraft into a feature film of the same name that will premiere this January in a little town called Park City. It’s the product of Rutili’s decidedly cinematic songwriting process and love for surrealist films and the likes of Luis Buñuel.

In the movie, a fortune teller played by Angela Bettis (“May”) lives in an old house crowded with ghosts. When a light appears in the woods outside, the ghosts realize they are trapped, and insanity ensues, all to a score and soundtrack by, of course, Califone. I caught Rutili on the phone before we had the good news about Sundance. He was driving cross country in a remarkably quiet car, headed toward the Southwest, already doing research for his next film — a “road movie,” of which he gave me a little hint. I got a bigger hint of “All My Friends Are Funeral Singers” — an exclusive clip from the film is below.

I know you’ve made some shorts before, but this is your first feature… how long has it been brewing?

Not very long. I started writing last September, so basically a year from starting the script to finishing the film. I’m hearing from friends who make films that isn’t usually the case, so we got lucky. We have to do some more soundtrack work, but other than that — it’s done.

In the clip, the camera moves from a scene through someone’s ear into another scene with a stuttering old man. Maybe I’m a mean ageist, and I don’t know where it fits in, but I thought it was hysterical.

That doesn’t fit in at all. We have a couple other scenes where the camera goes into people’s ears and you get this non sequitur of what’s happening in their, you know, ghost brain. It’s just fucked up — all those things were just making us laugh. We had some footage of that old guy performing…

Wait a minute — that wasn’t really an old guy though? Was it!?

For the sake of interview, yeah, it was. The guy that does it won’t acknowledge to any of us that it’s a character. He would get mad.

12102009_califone4.jpgIt had a real David Lynch feel for me. Not just the insanity, but specifically the ear tunnel transition shot — I’ve seen him make similar moves. Is that something you drew upon?

I love David Lynch. The only thing that came from him out of this is the idea that things don’t have to make sense, and you don’t have to really explain yourself [laughs]. That scene is a perfect example of that.

There’s also the song “Buñuel” on the record, about the surrealist filmmaker. Have you been studying him?

I was watching his movies a lot, and I wrote that song in front of one of his films. We have a character in the film named Bunuel, too. He doesn’t play a Spanish filmmaker, just a guy named Bunuel with a Super 8 camera. We ended up putting film in the camera and using a lot of what he shot. So there was a camera within the scene.

There were some things I wanted to feel like [Buñuel] — “Exterminating Angel,” his film where people are trapped in this dinner party. As it goes on, the people cannot get out of the house. There’s nothing keeping them there, they just can’t leave. What happens when you get a bunch of rich people at a dinner party that can’t leave for days on end? It’s weird as fuck, and there are these things that happen that are so beautiful. In one scene, out of nowhere, a bear crosses in the background. A woman opens her purse and she’s looking through it and pulls out a dead bird. You don’t know why, but its happening and there’s no reason, but it’s beautiful.


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.