Outrage Comedy and Unholy Tragedy

Outrage Comedy and Unholy Tragedy (photo)

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Gyorgy Palfi’s “Taxidermia” is a certain kind of movie that doesn’t have a name — we could call it scato-absurdist-expressionist outrage comedy, with a lineage that stems back to the New Wave Czechs, Makavejev, Monty Python, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Roy Andersson and the Coens, not to mention Takashi Miike, if he were Hungarian, and Guy Maddin, if the Winnipeg master of private ceremonies decided to regress and fully embrace Eastern European vulgarism. Or we could just not bother, and savor the whiplash.

A confrontational Rube Goldberg satire that packs three surreal dick jokes into its first 15 minutes, Palfi’s film plunges headlong into its own dialogue about Hungarian culture and the universal love-hate with our bodies, and the level of discourse is just as often lab-brat silly as it is genuinely disquieting. But while plenty of revolted reviewers were happy to chide the movie for its sophomoric excesses, there’s no denying its uncompromising brio. Palfi’s underseen debut, 2002’s “Hukkle,” had a similar comic sense of crossing vectors and ridiculous texture, even if it was completely dialogue-free. But “Taxidermia” is balls-out invention, prioritizing its degree of visual yuck over thematic thrust but tossing so much puke-flecked stuff on the screen that subtexts cannot help but emerge.

03222010_taxidermia2.jpgIt begins rather turgidly — with a cock-obsessed Army orderly stuck on a squalid farm with his barking lieutenant and his family, and you don’t know why you’re there. It helps to have a grasp of the whole program — based on short stories by Magyar literary upstart-turned-major figure Lajos Parti Nagy, the movie is a triptych, essentially following a bastardized family lineage from WWII to the present, starting with this hare-lipped jerk-off, who manages to emit a flame from his hard-on, get it pecked at by a rooster while screwing a barn-wall knothole, and eventually copulate with a trough of butchered pig meat that he imagines is the lieutenant’s obese wife. Or does he? She gives birth anyway, to an infant with a piglet’s tail (snipped off in close-up, of course), and this Garcia-Marquezian urchin grows up in Communist Hungary to be the nation’s Fatty Arbuckle-ish champion in “sport eating,” the ordeal of which in Palfi’s imagining, complete with mass vomitorium breaks, is truly unlike anything you might’ve seen on ESPN.

There’s more, buckets and reams and body cavities of it, and there no getting around the fact that “Taxidermia” is authentically disgusting, even in an age where anyone can find images of coprophagia in .004 Google seconds. But it’s a hot-blooded blast as well, and this might be the best way to define its ersatz quasi-genre — that is, like Makavejev and Python and the Coens, Palfi’s film is predominantly all about the elan and vivid high spirits of the image-making, the joy of setting up dominoes and then toppling them, the full-throated cackle of a filmmaker having great, dirty fun at his craft. We’re in cahoots with Palfi more than with any of his characters, and just as the Coens used to get misread as being unsympathetic to their people, Palfi has received judgments of “cruelty.” But it’s a tradition that goes back to the tall-tale-telling of Chaucer and Smollett and Lawrence Sterne, none of whom “invested” in their protagonists more than they counted on the reader to share the bumpy, sardonic ride.

03222010_taxidermia3.jpgWhen Palfi does take aim at a target — particularly Communist-era populism and its manifestation as hysterical, organized gluttony — he hits it with a bazooka. (A mandated double-bill of this and “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” might cure the obese-schoolkid problem in a shot.) If “Taxidermia” has a nagging problem, it’s that its attack on the human body takes on so many different forms (including self-surgery) that they seem to conflict and dissipate. But I’ll take the shotgun approach to satire over the sniper’s single pop anytime, and Palfi’s movie certainly makes a spectacular mess.


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.