DID YOU READ

“Kidnapped,” Reviewed

“Kidnapped,” Reviewed (photo)

Posted by on

Reviewed at Fantastic Fest 2010.

A hallmark of Spanish horror in recent years has been the long take, something that’s been perfected by the disciples of Guillermo del Toro like “The Orphanage”‘s Juan Antonio Bayona and “Julia’s Eyes”‘s Guillem Morales and the filmmakers behind shockers like “[REC].” Of course, slow burns have always been part of the genre, but the lack of cutaways feel particularly disconcerting to an increasing ADD generation and have been used to convey a reality to the terrifying creep of zombies, ghosts and other monsters of the night. Strangely, the trend towards unflinching takes has largely ignored the horror potential of actual reality, something that writer/director Miguel Ángel Vivas appears to be well aware in his arresting sophomore feature.

I wasn’t counting, but I’d be surprised to learn if there were more than 50 cuts in “Kidnapped,” Vivas’ 86-minute endurance test about the home invasion of a well-to-do family who just moved into their new home in the Madrid suburbs. “Kidnapped” (or as the subtitles reveal its original title “Hostages”) doesn’t stray far from the formula one has come to expect of such films, save for a blistering opening sequence that shows the aftermath for a previous victim. There are three thieves, dressed in black, and a family of three, whose only conflict appears to be that their 18-year-old daughter Isa (Manuela Vellés) wants to go out with her boyfriend instead of partaking in a housewarming dinner. She is halfway out the door when the burglars burst through a glass window on the side of the house and proceed to tie up the women and dispatch one man to take the family’s patriarch Jaime (Fernando Cayo) out to collect money from various ATMs.

Whereas most filmmakers would derive their tension from the unknown, Vivas divides the screen into two as Jaime drives around the city to empty out his bank accounts and Isa and her mother Marta (Ana Wagener) are tortured by the two thieves who are waiting for Jaime to return. One can see the fear and uncertainty in Jaime’s eyes as he suspects the worst and Vivas simultaneously shows the audiences that what is actually happening to Jaime’s wife and daughter isn’t too far off. The split-screen is really the only concession Vivas seems willing to make to break the reality he’s constructed, not partaking in the darkly comic sense of humor or reaction shots for the usual pockets of relief. Sometimes the camera is trained on the floor or a shelf with family pictures on it as the echo of conversations trickle in the background, but for the most part in “Kidnapped,” the more you know, the more you clench your teeth.

Ironically, you don’t notice what “Kidnapped” is missing until well after it’s over – the characters, bad and good, all radiate an intelligence about what they’re doing that masks the fact they’re mostly variations on types we’ve seen many times before, the film is based in real time, but doesn’t work against a ticking clock, and up until the climax, much of its violence is inflicted psychologically rather than physically. Although I was mildly disappointed in the film’s ending, not because it betrays the spirit of what came before, but its tidiness wasn’t particularly satisfying, “Kidnapped” is such a display of muscular filmmaking that its shortcomings as a sophisticated drama will just have to cede to its impressiveness as a taut thriller. (The film’s brutality also raises the questions about audience complicity that Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” was intended to address without the wink; the idea that “Kidnapped” was made as an exposé of the very real problem of home invasions in Spain seems a bit opportunistic at best.)

As I overheard when the audience staggered out of the screening I saw, when someone heard his friend hadn’t made it into see “Kidnapped,” he didn’t even ask what he saw in its place, simply patting him on the shoulder and saying, “then you saw the wrong film.”

“Kidnapped” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

Neurotica_105_MPX-1920×1080

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_CC_Neurotica_Series_Image4

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. 

Neurotica_series_image_1

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.

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?”

via GIPHY

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).

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

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.

via GIPHY

And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

PL_409_MPX-1920×1080

Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giffy

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.

via GIPHY

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.

via GIPHY

Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

via GIPHY

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.

via GIPHY

Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

via GIPHY

If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.