DID YOU READ

“Ip Man 2,” Reviewed

“Ip Man 2,” Reviewed (photo)

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A kung fu master is asked by one of his students, “Master, could you fight ten men at once?” The master considers the question, then replies. “It is better,” he says, “not to fight.” Good advice anywhere but in a kung fu spectacular like “Ip Man 2.” Better not to fight? In a martial arts film? Yeah right.

Thank God Ip Man (Donnie Yen) is a total hypocrite. He may preach nonviolence, but in practice, Ip’s ready to throw down at any time for almost any reason. A kid comes to his school curious about his skills, he fights him. The same kid brings more friends to test Ip, he fights them as well. The same kid gets into a scuffle with a rival school, Ip fights the entire school. There’s significantly more than ten of them, too.

Ip’s hypocrisy is to the movie’s credit. Who wants to see a kung fu movie about a guy who refuses to fight? Not me, especially not when that movie stars Donnie Yen, a great martial artist and naturally gifted actor. Ip Man doesn’t just beat the crap out of people, he beats the crap out of people in style. Every move is done with grace and a personal flourish. He makes it all look so easy, and his enthusiasm is infectious. While he’s fighting, Yen’s much more likely to crack a smile than break a sweat.

His character sounds like a super hero — bitten by a radioactive ip or something — but no, he’s a historical figure best known for popularizing Wing Chun kung fu in China and for teaching Bruce Lee how to fight. “Ip Man 2” is a sequel to 2008’s “Ip Man,” though you don’t need to have seen the original to understand what’s going on (I hadn’t and I could anyway).

Ip comes to Hong Kong looking to establish a new Wing Chun school but butts up against the cabal of established kung fu clubs, who don’t look kindly on any competition. That conflict leads directly to the films best sequence, where Ip fights all the local masters in rapid succession atop a wobbly table. If he can beat them all without falling off, he’ll earn the right to operate as a licensed martial arts instructor. This bravura setpiece culminates in an instant classic movie fight between Yen and Sammo Hung (also the film’s action director) playing Master Hung, man’s man and leader of the cabal. Their brawl’s one of those kung fu movie holy grails where every element gels into perfect kinetic bliss: great choreography, good camerawork, clear editing, and real emotional stakes thanks to two great actors playing two compelling characters.

That table fight about an hour into the picture is where “Ip Man 2” hits its visceral and emotional peak. Though it’s primarily been a story about mortality and the value of education (and, yes, beating the crap out of people in style) to that point, the focus then shifts to a much less satisfying “Rocky IV” riff, with some of the most caricatured racist Brits ever committed to celluloid in the role of the eeeeeeeevil Soviets. I enjoy watching pompous white dudes get their comeuppance as much as the next guy, but the maniacally evil British boxer Twister (Darren Shahlavi) and his compatriots are cartoonish buffoons. Ip’s battle with them has none of the pathos of his genuinely emotional war with Hung.

Still, Yen’s in top form and the fights and stunts throughout are stellar. And, despite Ip’s personal philosophy, there’s an awful lot of them.

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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.