DID YOU READ

Pretty Pickpockets

Pretty Pickpockets (photo)

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These days, movies can be made out of virtually nothing at all, like a poem — only a sense of drive and subject are required. Too often there’s nothing but ego at the center of today’s micro-indies, but Joshua Safdie’s “The Pleasure of Being Robbed” isn’t merely slacker realism or geysering quirk. It’s a character portrait, and I haven’t seen the likes of Eléonore (Eléonore Hendricks) since the ’70s, when Cassavetes movies bristled with compulsive nowhere figures living out their no-future lives by trying to seize the elusive present, and trying to do so with a fire in their bellies.

Eléonore isn’t a yuppie mumble-bum making small talk, but a low-rent, fringe-lost waif who supports herself through guileless kleptomania, and who never seems to contemplate consequences, only actions. At the outset, we see her scam a woman on the street by shouting out random names to her until she gets a reaction, and then slips on the oblivious woman’s purse in a hug. When she blindly grabs some bags off the sidewalk in front of a hotel, she ends up, back in her cluttered, ephemera-packed apartment, with a puppy (which she instantly and guiltlessly shoos out into the hallway and locks the door), and a sack of kittens, which, without batting an eye, she names one by one and then flings them across the room onto her bed. For the rest of the movie, we wonder how those kittens are making out, because Eléonore doesn’t.

03022010_PleasureofBeingRobbed4.jpgShot in classic secret-camera vérité style — there are some scenes, like Eléonore’s shoplifting routine in Tower Records, that could’ve easily be done for real and on the sly — Safdie’s movie veers gradually, almost imperceptibly, into a dreaminess that could be read as Eléonore’s mental instability. But there’s no being sure about it — after purse-snatching and finding a set of car keys, she struggles to find the car they belong to until a laid-back, bike-riding friend, Josh (Safdie), happens by and helps her.

They sit in the car, but Eléonore doesn’t know how to drive, and so Josh teaches her, and they take a bumpy road trip to Jersey. Only after they get back — Josh wants to fuck her, but Eléonore is just as much an enigma to him as she is to us — does Eléonore get arrested, and the gears of her reality begin to slip. There’s one too-brief shot of her wandering in a magical daze through Central Park Zoo in handcuffs, and from there anything we see — including a fake polar bear that’d make Guy Maddin proud — can be part of her strange, childish subjectivity.

The subtle concept of Eléonore is the drug of this drifty, poignant movie, but Hendricks makes for a beguiling delivery system — we see the hypnotic disconnect in Eléonore’s eyes right away, and together with Hendricks’ adolescent-ish beauty, boyish affect and convincing I’m-invisible quality suggest a number of convincing backstory possibilities, none of which, thankfully, are explained out.

We’ve all seen people like Eléonore on the street — the ones that want to talk to us despite being strangers, the ones that have no visible means of support, the ones that play shamelessly like children, as if they were caught in a record-skip somewhere on their lives’ timeline. Safdie’s movie begins on the outside of this alien creature, and ends somewhere on the inside, but, because that’s the way it is for real, she remains a mystery.

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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.