DID YOU READ

Having it both ways with “Lovers of Hate.”

Having it both ways with “Lovers of Hate.” (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival.

“Why don’t you just help me?” Rudy Lucas (Chris Doubek) pleads of his brother Paul (Alex Karpovsky) at one point in “Lovers of Hate.” It’s a simple question, but it takes nearly Bryan Poyser’s entire movie to answer. Strangely, this is long after our awkward first impression of Rudy, a shaggy, unsuccessful middle-aged writer living out of his Ford Escort in Austin after being kicked out by Diana, his wife of 12 years (Heather Kafka). He’s having trouble finding a place to clean himself, settling on an elderly woman’s home during his dull day job as a survey taker of sorts when he realizes he only has so long to lather at a local car wash. Paul, on the other hand, is in town to promote his latest in a series of popular children’s fantasy novels, “Maximillian and the Incredible Kids: Rift Warriors,” which by no means is suggested to be a classic of the written word, but has certainly been a financial success.

Knowing that his marriage to Diana is the only thing that would impress Paul, Rudy coerces Diana to pretend that they’re still together, and Paul lends credence to this by saying at the end of their evening together, “It somehow recalibrates my sanity every time I see you guys.” And that’s where the insane part of Bryan Poyser’s dark domestic comedy begins, as a suspicious Paul learns that Diana left Rudy two weeks earlier and whisks her off for a weekend in the snowy slopes of Utah, with Rudy sneaking into lare house to keep tabs.

This is an extremely bad idea, but that’s what Poyser specializes in, if this and his Spirit Award-nominated “Dear Pillow” are anything to go by. As well-told as the latter was — a coming-of-age story tied to a young man looking for a career in writing pornography — the irony of “Lovers of Hate” is that it took a story that is largely confined to a house (albeit a very big house) for Poyser to expand the world that his characters inhabit.

03162010_LoversofHate2.jpgFrom the opening frame of “Lovers of Hate,” the film never feels small, yet when the action moves from the haze of Rudy’s scrappy life in Austin to the brighter, snow-covered plains of Park City, Poyser is able to use every ringing cell phone, unflushed toilet and cutting remark for uncomfortable laughs and a deeper understanding of each of the central three characters. Rudy skulks around the house hoping to go unnoticed by Paul and Diana, who can’t keep their hands off each other.

Poyser gets to have it both ways — using Doubek’s sad-sack Rudy as an agent of sabotage for the potential long-term prospects of Paul and Diana’s relationship, as well as an observer that can bring the audience in to feel more intimate with the couple’s ever-changing feelings towards each other than most dramas usually allow for. During the Q & A, someone asked why Poyser just didn’t make a horror film when the premise is so ripe for scares, but the film’s originality stems from how scared the characters are of their own shortcomings.

Eerily enough, one can already watch the film via video on demand, a fact that led Poyser to gently kid the audience before the film that they were all “suckers” for coming to see it at the Paramount. Yet the big screen rarely sees films these days that are as ultimately rewarding as “Lovers of Hate,” the type of smart, incisive indie that was common in the early ’90s, but has trouble finding a proper niche today, an appropriate metaphor for a film about three people who are struggling to fit the roles that have been set out for them.

“Lovers of Hate” is now available on demand through June.

[Photos: “Lovers of Hate,” IFC Films, 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.