DID YOU READ

You should totally see this dark, difficult movie!

You should totally see this dark, difficult movie! (photo)

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Writing about Sundance favorite “Winter’s Bone,” which Roadside Attractions will release in theaters next week, the LA Times‘ John Horn hits on all of the usual points that come up whenever a big publication covers a scrappy, genuinely indie film and makes it sound like cinematic equivalent of steamed spinach mixed with shards of glass.

He notes it’s based on “an acclaimed but little-read Daniel Woodrell novel” (which describes a sizable chunk of novels turned into films, not just micro-budget indies) and lists its other uncommercial factors, like the “sometimes violent main characters” who “subsist on methamphetamine,” and the fact that its teenage protagonist “played by the unheralded actress Jennifer Lawrence.” Hey, last time I checked “Alice in Wonderland” starred the unheralded Mia Wasikowska, whose name is harder to spell, and it still made $1 billion.

In any case, the main point of the article is sound. Small distributors have been imploding as fast as newspapers these last few years, yet Roadside Attractions — thanks to a combination of modest overhead (less than $2 million annually), a mere 16-employee staff and some modest hits (“The September Issue,” “Super Size Me”) — is more or less thriving. As far as it goes with “Winter’s Bone,” Horn emphasizes that the best part of Roadside’s pitch — they beat out six other offers — was their idea of blatant bait-and-switch marketing, making the movie look like a more standard thriller in the trailer:

The result is something that’s kind of… dire. With its thudding nu-metal guitars, generic title cards (“between what you see and what you hear lies the truth you’re not meant to know” — wait, so the difference between your two senses will uncover the truth?) and general sense of nothing-new-here, there’s no glimpse in the trailer of the movie that’s been about as universally acclaimed as any Sundance premiere of recent years.

06042010_wintersbone5.jpgMost interestingly, Horn wonder “whether highbrow moviegoers will patronize an art film in the summer movie season.” Well, first they’d have to know it existed, preferably via some means other than the trailer. In that way, the misdirectiony marketing makes sense — the kind of person who’s pumped about “Winter’s Bone” has already been reading about and waiting for it. You can take those viewers for granted: they’ll be there for your Hou Hsiao-Hsiens and your Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s as well. These ad dollars are all about seeing who else can be brought in.

But do “highbrow moviegoers” really go into a temporary explosion coma during the summer just like everyone else? In my experience, that’s not the case. The real question: how do you bring people into a movie they might conceivably like but would be terrified of if described as, you know, “OH NO NOT METHLAND!” Surely there’s a balance to be reached between hiding the true nature of the film and making it sound like a masochistic self-flagellation test.

[Photos: “Winter’s Bone,” Roadside Attractions, 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.