DID YOU READ

The Doc Days of Summer: “45365”

The Doc Days of Summer: “45365” (photo)

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More so than any other summer in recent memory, this year great documentaries are flooding through the marketplace at a rapid clip, whether on TV (HBO will host Sundance faves “Smash His Camera,” “Gasland” and “A Small Act” in the weeks ahead), online (the always reliable SnagFilms.com) or in theaters (“Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work,” AJ Schnack’s “Convention” and Oliver Stone’s “South of the Border” before the end of June). With that in mind, we’d like to take the chance to shine a light on some of the best nonfiction films being released over the next month in this summer weekly column.

Certainly, that’s true of “45365,” the feature debut from Bill and Turner Ross, which took a circuitous route around the festival circuit (where it earned prizes at SXSW and Full Frame) before premiering online last summer on Hulu for a week and eventually winning this year’s Truer Than Fiction Award at the Spirit Awards. (As it happens, the Ross brothers were recently dubbed IFC Icons to boot.)

Still, it should be best enjoyed on the big screen at the Anthology Film Archives, where it begins a one-week run in New York where the Ross’ elegant, elliptical portrait of their hometown of Sidney, Ohio will be presented in its full glory.

06182010_45365-3.jpgOne could call the film a slice of life from a small town, but in reality, it’s many slices — larger in scope when following the ups and downs of the Sidney High School Yellow Jacket football team and the door-to-door campaigning of local judge Donald Luce, and filled in by the small pleasures of eavesdropping on a discussion about the joys of QVC at a retirement home and the ribbon-cutting of a new bridge.

As Turner Ross says, “The type of filmmaking that we’re trying to do is not getting out there and telling people how to feel about what we’ve done.” Indeed, there’s nothing forced about their approach, which takes hundreds of seemingly unrelated moments and weaves them together, seamlessly blending a scene of a camera rolling by the streets of Sidney as harried mothers and fathers accompany their children on Halloween with the claustrophobic bickering of the Dwyer family, a mother and son who it could be said have “trust issues.”

After roughly seven years away from the Midwest, the Ross brothers returned to Sidney for nine months in 2007 to capture all of this and more, trading on previous relationships and making new ones.

“I’m always surprised by what people are willing to share, but really those [more intimate] moments are just a result of friendships that we’ve made,” said Bill Ross. “The end result, which is the film, is good and that’s fine and that’s why we’re there, but really what we get most out of what we do is the relationships and the experiences and the stories that we get to tell.”

But it didn’t come easy. Turner Ross spent over a year in the editing room finding the right order and tone for the film and used the first six months after filming “just to get a grasp on it.”

06182010_45365-4.jpg“Being in a room by yourself for so long, the footage starts to talk to you,” said Turner Ross. “You look at one scene and it says, ‘I need to be in there’ and then you look at another, which you thought in the beginning should be in there, but it’ll say ‘you’re an idiot, why would you ever even consider putting this in a film?'”

They had a lot of time to think about it; the Ross brothers had been considering making something that would capture where they grew up since high school, but were unsure what form it would take until they spent time in Los Angeles working production jobs on other people’s pictures and decided to strike up a feature on their own.

“We made a film and we made it in the way that we wanted to make it,” said Turner Ross. “It isn’t supposed to be some sort of thesis statement on small-town America or the plight of the Midwestern small town. It’s simply a film about moments and time spent with people.”

Expect them continue to do the same with their immediate filmmaking future. Though IndieWIRE already tipped the Ross brothers’ next project as the similarly unusually titled “Tchoupitoulas” — another nine-month sojourn, this time to New Orleans, viewing the city through the eyes of three brothers — they’re already working on a follow-up.

“We kind of forgot to cut [“Tchoupitoulas”],” said Turner Ross, who added, “We’ve been here shooting in a small town in South Texas for a couple months now.”

When asked what it might be about, Ross replied, “We’ll tell you when we know.” If “45365” is any indication, the wait to find out will be worth it.

Take a look at some footage from the upcoming “Tchoupitoulas” below:

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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.