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Kristen Stewart gets a warm “Welcome to the Rileys” in L.A.

Kristen Stewart gets a warm “Welcome to the Rileys” in L.A. (photo)

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If the “Twilight: Eclipse” premiere was the tough ticket of this year’s L.A. Film Festival, drawing roughly 5,000 fans from all corners of the U.S. in order to get a glimpse of Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner at the Nokia Theater, then “Welcome to the Rileys” proved to be damn near impossible.

Kristen Stewart fans gambled on the ability to sit less than ten feet away from the star inside one of the smaller Regal Cinemas at L.A. Live, but having to contend with the fact that seven of the 15 rows in the theater were already roped off for VIPs of one kind or another.

LAFF director Rebecca Yeldham came out to introduce the film and moderate the post-screening Q & A (a job usually handled by programmers or volunteers), and before the film started, Melissa Leo spoke on behalf of herself and co-stars Stewart and James Gandolfini, who stood off to the side, a reminder that “Welcome to the Rileys” not only boasts a talented ensemble, but one of the most spotlight-weary as well.

For those who have been following the film’s distribution drama since Sundance, it was unveiled with a brand spankin’ new Samuel Goldwyn/Destination Films logo in front, replacing Apparition as the distributor, who will bring the film to theaters in October. But the real drama was on screen, with the idiosyncratic tale of a wholesale plumbing supply salesman (Gandolfini) who attempts to drown his sorrows in the Big Easy during a trade show and encounters a stripper/prostitute (Stewart) who reminds him of his late daughter who died in an accident. Leo plays Gandolfini’s distant wife.

Gandolfini, Stewart, Leo, writer Ken Hixon and producer Michael Costigan took to the front of the theater to discuss the origins of the film. Naturally, Stewart received the bulk of the questions, being asked in particular about playing a role so different than her most famous creation in “Twilight.”

06262010_WelcometotheRileysLAFilmFest.jpgStewart admitted that she wasn’t necessarily afraid of playing a stripper, but “I was terrified because it was written really well” and expressed pride in learning some of the film’s stripper moves, though mostly they happened off-camera. “The silhouette in the beginning?” Stewart rhetorically asked almost giddily, “Thanks. That’s me.”

Saying she would “jump off a bridge” for director Jake Scott, Stewart found talking to the working women of the Dixie Divas strip club in New Orleans where the film was shot was key to finding her character, noticing the many lost women like the one she played with “dead eyes” and “open wounds.” When prodded by an audience member, Gandolfini confirmed that the toughest scene in the film for him to shoot was a scene where Stewart is particularly vulnerable in the lot of a motel parking lot. Gandolfini said, turning to Stewart, “I remember that was a long evening because you had to fall apart so many times.”

Stewart lightened the mood when asked about whether she had any issue with some of the tough language her character uses, confessing that during a scene where the character gets a urinary tract infection, she “felt really weird saying ‘pussy'” in front of Leo.

In order to achieve the perfect pitch for the scene, Leo improvised off-camera, saying “make pee pee,” a comment that somehow gave Stewart the inspiration to carry on, though she wondered whether Leo felt strange about it. “I’m a mother, Kristen,” Leo fired back, getting the night’s biggest laugh. “It’s not weird to say ‘make pee pee’ for me.”

On a more serious note, a fan pointed out that Stewart had said in previous interviews that her turn in “Welcome to the Rileys” was the role she liked playing the most, a statement she clarified by saying, “Maybe it just affected me the most…Sometimes you can leave shit at work or you can’t.” Of “Rileys,” she said, “this is undeniably in you.”

[Photos: “Welcome to the Rileys,” Samuel Goldwyn Films, 2010; James Gandolfini, Kristen Stewart and Melissa Leo at the L.A. Film Festival, Stephen Saito/IFC.com]

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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.