DID YOU READ

“Cold Weather”: The case of the disappearing ex.

“Cold Weather”: The case of the disappearing ex. (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival.

There’s a scene, maybe a third of the way through “Cold Weather,” in which the drifting main character Doug (Cris Lankenau) meets up with his ex-girlfriend Rachel (Robyn Rikoon) when she arrives in town for a business trip. Coming in out of the rain — the film’s set in Portland, and it’s perpetually raining — she gets a bit of a luminous, It Girl entrance, and as the two catch up over coffee, you consider how, in most movies, this would be the point at which Doug would be inspired to win Rachel back. He’d get his life in order, discover some unexpected aptitude in his job at an ice factory, fix up his sister/roommate Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn) and his coworker Carlos (the very likable Raúl Castillo) and tidy away all of the other messy loose storylines in his life before the credits roll.

None of these things happen, naturally — director Aaron Katz is a graduate of the movement sometimes known as mumblecore, and the idea that anything so gauchely movielike would take place, even in what is, without argument, a full-blown, fully realized, non-mumbly movie, is inconceivable. Instead, it’s here that “Cold Weather” hops the fence to become a kind of funny, expressly low-key detective story, as enacted by a handful of your more eager, though not necessarily most competent, friends.

03232010_coldweather2.jpgDoug has moved home to Portland after dropping out of school, where he was studying forensics, to work at a restaurant, out of which he also dropped. He didn’t aspire to be, as Carlos asks, some sort of CSI — he wanted to be Sherlock Holmes, which sums up his level of fuzzy-edged dreaminess (he always seems to be falling asleep on the couch). His sister, Gail, seems a little older and a little more together — the two have an easy, teasing rapport, though they’re also only just figuring out how to relate to one another as adults in addition to as two people who’ve grown up together.

It’s Rachel who provides a whiff of intrigue when she vanishes, after joining Doug and Gail and Carlos for a few nights out — she doesn’t show up somewhere she was supposed to, and Carlos, convinced something’s wrong, drags Doug to her motel room, where the lights are all on, but no one’s home. Doug may have studied forensics, but his approach to investigation, not to mention that of Carlos and, eventually, Gail, is pure Hardy Boys mystery. They don disguises, dig through garbage, do research in the library, run pencils over notepads to see what was last written there, look for (and find!) coded messages. And when Doug needs help thinking, he buys a pipe. Well, he has Gail, who owns the car, drive him to buy a pipe. And then drive him back, when he realizes he’s forgotten to buy tobacco.

03232010_coldweather3.jpg“Cold Weather”‘s mystery is real, if a bit of a red herring, and its characters aren’t ridiculous — they ring fumblingly true, not the least because of the half-concealed delight they take in getting to play amateur sleuths. And the film looks and feels, fittingly, as sheeny as an upper-bracket thriller, shot, gorgeously, on the Red, soaking in the moody greys and cool lighting of its setting, and getting fancy with depth of field — the opening shot, of condensation on a window that refocuses on action in the courtyard below and beyond, is a quiet show stopper.

Gumshoe antics aside, “Cold Weather” is really a story about Doug and Gail and the peculiarities of siblinghood, how you can know everything there is about another person while also having no idea about their internal landscape and how he or she has chosen to navigate the inscrutable kingdom of adulthood. At one point, Doug carefully asks Gail if she has any friends, noting that she never seems to hang out with anyone else, and Gail lets slip him that she recently got out of a six-month relationship that she never told him about because, well, when do you discuss your dating life with your little brother? Some things come easy, and some things you have to learn, but it seems, on the parking lot rooftop where the film ends, that Doug and Gail might actually manage to teach themselves to be friends.

“Cold Weather” is currently without U.S. distribution.

[Photos: “Cold Weather,” Parts and Weather, 2010]

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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.