DID YOU READ

“Audrey the Trainwreck”: An ode to the everyday grind.

“Audrey the Trainwreck”: An ode to the everyday grind. (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival.

Every day of Ron Hogan’s life looks exactly like the one before it. The alarm clock goes off at 6:30. After a stretch at the side of the bed, it’s time to shower and dress. Then a stop off at the convenience store for the same cup of coffee before heading into work as a purchaser of ATM parts, where he has the same conversations with the same colleagues. After work, there’s the same series of hopeless Internet dates at the same coffee shop, or maybe a round of drinks with the same co-workers at the same bar. People ask Ron (Anthony Baker) if he hates his job. We sense he does, but he refuses to admit it. Oh sure, it’s repetitious, it’s tedious, but it’s a job. It could be worse.

“Audrey the Trainwreck,” a sort of mumblecore-meets-“The Office,” effectively captures the “Groundhog’s Day”-like monotony of workplace routine. Maybe it captures it a little too effectively; at times, it’s hard to tell whether the film is satirizing boredom or is just a little bit boring itself. Its subject matter — the soul-crushing sameness of a paper-pusher’s life — and the film’s approach to it poses an interesting question: how do you make a movie about dullness without making a dull movie? Or a movie about listlessness without becoming listless?

03152010_AudreyTrainwreck1.jpg“Audrey” tries to do it by getting as deep inside those moods as it can, talking about them honestly and in unsparing detail, and punctuating the tedium with a dry sense of humor and occasional outbursts of surprising violence. The movie introduces Ron in the midst of game of darts, and as he reaches down to pick something up, his opponent throws one right into the back of the neck. The title appears on screen during his subsequent trip to the hospital along with an onscreen warning that “These things happen in threes,” a clever way to add a nice undercurrent of suspense to the entire film.

Ron’s world brightens — and the film’s does, too — when he begins to connect with one of his blind dates, a delivery woman named Stacy (Alexi Wasser). Though they have different kinds of work — one white-collar, one blue-collar, one surrounded by other people, one alone in a truck full of packages — they share the same weary worldview. Writer/director Frank V. Ross has fun observing the essential truisms of corporate drudgery that exist even in the most disparate professions. Both of Ron and Stacy’s jobs, for instance, make them dress in silly, uncharacteristic ways. Ron has to wear a Bluetooth headset. Stacy never makes a delivery without a brown knit cap, even on warm, sunny days.

03152010_AudreyTrainwreck3.jpgThough Ron and Stacy are a little bit older and more responsible than the protagonists of a lot of other mumblecore movies, “Audrey the Trainwreck” still fits under that umbrella of films about dissatisfied youths looking, without much direction, for purpose and connection in their lives. And as profound as some mumblecore movies are, five years into the genre, a lot of them are beginning to blur together, a quality exacerbated by the fact that so many share the same crews and casts (this one features mumblemainstay Joe Swanberg and the star of his last film, Jess Weixler, in supporting roles). Naturalistic performances by Baker and Wasser and a great melancholy jazz score by John Medeski help set “Audrey the Trainwreck” apart. But there were some moments where I could relate to Ron’s sense of endless repetition more than I would have liked to.

“Audrey the Trainwreck” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

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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.