This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


“A Contract With God” and Four Up-and-Coming Indie Directors

“A Contract With God” and Four Up-and-Coming Indie Directors (photo)

Posted by on

Getting a little less attention than glossier fare like “The Avengers” and “Cowboys & Aliens” in the four-day firestorm of Comic-Con unveilings the past weekend was the announcement that “A Contract With God” was headed to the big screen, indie-style.

Will Eisner’s masterpiece, which consists of four semi-autobiographical short stories set in the Bronx and its environs in the 1930s, is considered a landmark of the form. It’s one of the main texts, along with “Watchmen” and “Maus,” that gets brought up by people making the case for the potential of comic books and graphic novels as art forms.

Each of the four parts of “A Contract With God” will be handled, anthology-style, by one of four up-and-coming indie filmmakers. The dream team and the segments they’ll each handle:

07262010_seanbaker2.jpgSean Baker: “Cookalien”

One of the creators of the “Greg the Bunny” franchise, formerly of IFC, then Fox, then IFC again, then MTV, Baker directed and co-wrote the naturalistic New York City immigrant tales “Take Out” (2004) (which you can currently stream on Netflix Instant) and “Prince of Broadway” (2008), along with his 2000 debut “Four Letter Words” (also on Netflix Instant).

07262010_tzechunthumb.jpgTze Chun: “The Street Singer”

“Children of Invention,” Chun’s semi-autobiographical debut about kids whose mother gets nabbed due to her involvement with a pyramid scheme, won over a dozen prizes on the festival circuit before being self-distributed in theaters this year. Two of Chun’s shorts are online — the 2006 film “Windowbreaker” and Future States contribution “Silver Sling.”

07262010_barryjenkins1.jpgBarry Jenkins: “The Super”

Barry Jenkins’ feature debut “Medicine for Melancholy” (trailer’s here) a San Francisco-set romance starring a pre-“Daily Show” Wyatt Cenac, was one of the breakouts at the 2008 SXSW Film Festival, going on to Gotham and Spirit Award nominations before receiving a theatrical release last year.

07262010_alexrivera.jpgAlex Rivera: “A Contract With God”

Alex Rivera’s first film, the sci-fi allegory “Sleep Dealer,” was set in a future where virtual reality separated immigrant labor from immigrants. The film premiered at Sundance in 2008, where it picked up both the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. Check out his “Borders Trilogy” of shorts.

It’s an impressive array of diverse, talented directors. Though, as a colleague asked when I sent him the announcement, shouldn’t someone Jewish be involved in directing these stories set in and about a Jewish immigrant community? It’s a question I posed to the film’s writer/producer Darren Dean (“Prince of Broadway”), who responds:

The directors were chosen based on the fact that they were telling these remarkable immigrant and socially/culturally relevant stories of their own. Part of the selection process was a bit of a “what if” scenario. The idea of taking them out of their comfort zones and challenging them to tell stories from a world that — at first glance — was not their own was an intriguing concept.

Having interviewed Eisner years ago and developed a correspondence with him, it seemed like something he would embrace. These stories are relevant to everyone so, while maintaining the faithful, Jewish themes, the idea was to offer a fresh perspective on the graphic novel. Obviously, I’m aware that we may face some scrutiny on this level, but I’m also confident that the directors will each deliver a fascinating, honest portrayal of these timeless characters.

The film will start shooting in 2011.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

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.

Posted by on
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.