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“A Serbian Film” and the End of Torture Porn…?

“A Serbian Film” and the End of Torture Porn…? (photo)

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“A Serbian Film,” directed by Srdjan Spasojevic, has the questionable distinction of standing at the (current) far reaches of extreme cinema — so much so that it was pulled from the schedule of London’s FrightFest after the British Board of Film Classification demanded four minutes of cuts in order for it to be screened. Festival co-director Ian Jones told the Guardian that “FrightFest has decided not to show A Serbian Film in a heavily cut version because, as a festival with a global integrity, we think a film of this nature should be shown in its entirety as per the director’s intention.”

Also writing at the Guardian, Pete Cashmore takes the incident as an opportunity to wonder if the age of torture porn is finally over, regardless of how you’d classify “A Serbian Film”:

Its few-and-far-between defenders cite Srdjan Spasojevic’s film as not TP at all, rather an articulation of the horrors that the Serbian nation has had to live through in recent times. Hmm. What one hopes, at least, is that it provides an effective point for us all to reflect, weigh things up, and decide that – once the shagging of vacated eyeholes comes into the equation – it might be time to fold up the tables and call it a day.

My review of the film from its premiere at SXSW is here, and the (NSFW, to be sure) trailer is below:

I’d always understood “torture porn,” a phrase coined by New York‘s David Edelstein to describe “Hostel” and similar titles hitting theaters four to five years ago, to refer to films in which the realism and explicitness of the violence wasn’t only upped, it was moved front and center. What was once the money shot became everything — and so, it’s implied, there’s no heft to torture porn films beyond sadism, because they have only one note, shock, which they hit over and over again until the impact is gone.

As a sucker for extreme imagery (I can never turn down a film that’s inspired mass walkouts, whether for pace, subject matter, incomprehensibility or causing physical distress), I’ve found Edelstein’s summing up of what seemed like a zeitgeisty moment in mass culture smart and helpful, quickly overapplied as a term and ultimately stripped of meaning, and I’m about ready to let it go. It was the omnipresence of these movies, the fact that suburban teens were taking them in at the mall, their popularity that made them noteworthy. But as a mainstream phenomenon, films that sell themselves on splatter alone do seem on their way out (goodbye, “Saw” franchise!), and thank god — they tend to be, ultimately, boring, like listening to music with the volume turned so high it sounds like on giant shriek.

Really, “A Serbian Film” is part of that subgenre of movies that’s been around long before the coining of the phrase “torture porn,” ones whose main hook is a moment or two of infamy, ones that will never see a multiplex screen. It’s tough route to hack — being the most extreme feature out there is only a sell point until you’re outdone by the next, even more disturbing contender in grotesquerie. “A Serbian Film,” whose main shock setpieces seems to be lifted from one notorious Japanese comic book and given the barest glaze of social relevance, is, like so many of these films, more significant and interesting before you’re seen it.

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Thank Azaria

Best. Characters. Ever.

Our favorite Hank Azaria characters.

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GIFs via Giphy

Hank Azaria may well be the most prolific voice and character actor of our time. The work he’s done for The Simpsons alone has earned him a permanent place in the pop culture zeitgeist. And now he’s bringing another character to the mainstream: a washed-up sports announcer named Jim Brockmire, in the aptly titled new series Brockmire.

We’re looking forward to it. So much so that we want to look backward, too, with a short-but-sweet retrospective of some of Azaria’s important characters. Shall we begin?

Half The Recurring Simpsons Characters

He’s Comic Book Guy. He’s Chief Wiggum. He’s Apu. He’s Cletus. He’s Snake. He’s Superintendent Chalmers. He’s the Sea Captain. He’s Kurt “Can I Borrow A Feeling” Van Houten. He’s Professor Frink. He’s Carl. And he’s many more. But most importantly he’s Moe Szyslak, the staple character Azaria has voiced since his very first audition for The Simpsons.

Oh, and He’s Frank Grimes

For all the regular Simpsons characters Azaria has played over the years, his most brilliant performance may have been a one-off: Frank Grimes, the scrappy bootstrapper who worked tirelessly all his life for honest, incremental, and easily-undermined success. Azaria’s portrayal of this character was nuanced, emotional, and simply magical.

Patches O’Houlihan

Dodgeball is a “sport of violence, exclusion and degradation.” as Hank Azaria generously points out in his brief but crucial cameo in Dodgeball. That’s sage wisdom. Try applying his “five D’s” to your life on and off the court and enjoy the results.

Harold Zoid

Of Futurama fame. The crazy uncle of Dr. Zoidberg, Harold Zoid was once a lion (or lobster) of the silver screen until Smell-o-vision forced him into retirement.

Agador

The Birdcage was significant for many reasons, and the comic genius of Hank Azaria’s character “Agador” sits somewhere towards the top of that list. If you haven’t seen this movie, shame on you.

Gargamel

Nobody else could make a live-action Gargamel possible.

Ed Cochran

From Ray Donovan. Great character, great last name [editorial note: the author of this article may be bias].

Kahmunra, The Thinker, Abe Lincoln

All in the Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian, a file that let Azaria flex his voice acting and live-action muscles in one fell swoop.

The Blue Raja

Mystery Men has everything, including a fatal case of Smash Mouth. Azaria’s iconic superhero makes the shortlist of redeemable qualities, though.

Dr. Huff

Huff put Azaria in a leading role, and it was good. So good that there is no good gif of it. Internet? More like Inter-not.

Learn more about Hank Azaria’s newest claim to fame right here, and don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Flame Out

Brockmire and Other Public Implosions

Brockmire Premieres April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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There’s less than a month until the Brockmire premiere, and to say we’re excited would be an insulting understatement. It’s not just that it stars Hank Azaria, who can do no wrong (and yes, that’s including Mystery Men, which is only cringeworthy because of Smash Mouth). It’s that the whole backstory of the titular character, Jim Brockmire, is the stuff of legends. A one-time iconic sportscaster who won the hearts of fans and players alike, he fell from grace after an unfortunate personal event triggered a seriously public meltdown. See for yourself in the NSFW Funny or Die digital short that spawned the IFC series:

See? NSFW and spectacularly catastrophic in a way that could almost be real. Which got us thinking: What are some real-life sports fails that have nothing to do with botched athletics and everything to do with going tragically off script? The internet is a dark and dirty place, friends, but these three examples are pretty special and mostly safe for work…

Disgruntled Sports Reporter

His co-anchor went offsides and he called it like he saw it.

Jim Rome vs Jim “Not Chris” Everett

You just don’t heckle a professional athlete when you’re within striking distance. Common sense.

Carl Lewis’s National Anthem

He killed it! As in murdered. It’s dead.

To see more moments just like these, we recommend spending a day in your pajamas combing through the muckiness of the internet. But to see something that’s Brockmire-level funny without having to clear your browser history, check out the sneak peeks and extras here.

Don’t miss the premiere of Brockmire April 5 at 10P on IFC.

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Mirror, Mirror

Portlandia Season 7 In Hindsight

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available Online and on the IFC App.

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Another season of Portlandia is behind us, and oh what a season it was. We laughed. We cried. And we chuckled uncomfortably while glancing nervously around the room. Like every season before it, the latest Portlandia has held a mirror up to ridiculousness of modern American life, but more than ever that same mirror has reflected our social reality in ways that are at once hysterical and sneakily thought-provoking. Here are just a few of the issues they tackled:

Nationalism

So long, America, Portland is out! And yes, the idea of Portland seceding is still less ludicrous than building a wall.

Men’s Rights

We all saw this coming. Exit gracefully, dudes.

Protests

Whatever you stand for, stand for it together. Or with at least one other person.

Free Love

No matter who we are or how we love, deep down we all have the ability to get stalky.

Social Status

Modern self-esteem basically hinges on likes, so this isn’t really a stretch at all.

These moments are just the tip of the iceberg, and much more can be found in the full seventh season of #Portlandia, available right now #online and on the #IFC app.

via GIPHY

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