DID YOU READ

Review: “Meet Monica Velour,” requiem for a porn star.

Review: “Meet Monica Velour,” requiem for a porn star. (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.

“It’s not a National Lampoon’s movie and it’s not a road movie,” writer/director Keith Bearden said after the second screening of his comedy “Meet Monica Velour,” a necessity of sorts since the easiest description of its logline might have audiences running in the other direction. As noted by Cinematical’s Scott Weinberg, the synopsis of a geek seeking out a retired porn star he worships after his high school graduation sounds like formulaic crap easily given to cliché. But while no one will mistake “Monica Velour” for high art, it’s a sly, unforced coming-of-age story that may be slightly predictable, but is always engaging.

You wouldn’t think this immediately when introduced to Tobe (Dustin Ingram), a love child of Napoleon Dynamite and Where’s Waldo with an offputtingly toothy grin and a mop of blondish curls. He has very particular tastes, as we learn when he drives around his father’s Weenie Wiz truck to a soundtrack of ’30s jazz, and one of them happens to be Monica Velour (Kim Cattrall), a leading lady of ’80s era adult entertainment who has now been reduced to being the featured dancer at a low-rent Indiana strip joint. Like the many collectibles he’s acquired over the years of Velour paraphernalia, Tobe learns this latter fact over the internet. Combined with a potential buyer for the hot dog truck in the area, it’s enough to lead him to travel from Washington to the Midwest to meet her in person.

04272010_MeetMonicaVelour.jpgBearden spends little time on the road since it’s the relationship between Tobe and Monica that proves to be bumpy. An adoring Tobe is faced with the reality that his dream woman is divorced, desperate for cash and has a daughter she’d like to see more of. Though he’s undeterred, Monica keeps him at an arm’s distance, yet she’s intrigued enough to keep the door ajar for a friendship to develop. Although Bearden makes concessions to the lowbrow premise — there are the obligatory mentions of Monica’s porn credits (“Poon 200 B.C.,” “A Long Day’s Journey Into Kate”), you get to see (and subsequently can’t unsee) the bare ass of Tobe’s father post-coitus, played by Brian Dennehy — it’s a film with a generally light touch where every character is fully realized.

The biggest beneficiary is Cattrall, who gets the most adult role she’s ever been allowed to play — surely the irony wasn’t lost on her that it took a role as a former porn star for to shed her long-held image as a sex kitten. During the post-screening Q & A, Bearden told the story of how he met the “Sex and the City” star at a Thai restaurant in 52nd St. in New York and was sure he would scare her off with his laundry list of demands: “We’re going to light you real bad. You have to gain weight,” etc. By the time he reached the subway, his agent told him she was in. (Bearden wouldn’t give names of the “big name actresses” who competed for Cattrall’s part, but he did mention that “half the cast of ‘The Wire,'” Garrett Morris and Busta Rhymes were willing to audition for the role of the potential hot dog truck buyer/artist ultimately played in the film by Keith David.)

Although there are some areas in which Bearden, a first-time feature director, overplays his hand, it’s not enough to overlook the goodness in “Meet Monica Velour,” where cynicism has no place, even if gangbangs do.

“Meet Monica Velour” 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.