DID YOU READ

“Prince of Broadway,” Reviewed

“Prince of Broadway,” Reviewed (photo)

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“Wholesale, wholesale, Louis Vuitton, Coach, Prada, got everything,” croons Lucky (Prince Adu), his patter and easy charm his livelihood, coaxing customers in from the street to a shop owned by his boss Levon (Karren Karagulian), one whose back room is stacked with counterfeit purses, sneakers and clothing. A Ghanian immigrant in New York without a green card or a visa, Lucky plays at gangster swagger — “I’m hustlin’ like fuck,” he boasts — but he’s a teddy bear at heart, proud of and pleased with the life he’s carving out for himself, with his rented room, his girl, his roll of cash and friends with which to smoke pot and shoot the shit.

And so we’re not that concerned when his ex Linda (Kat Sanchez) tracks him down and leaves his with a toddler she insists is his, telling him that she needs him to take care of his son for a few weeks, and then a few more, while Lucky sputters and struggles and claims all the while that he’s not the boy’s father. Irresponsible-guy-suddenly-put-in-charge-of-a-child has become a basic indie film template, and inevitably the man softens and grows and comes to terms with his responsibilities. While “Prince of Broadway” is dry-eyed and stoutly neorealist, with much of its dialog improvised, it’s also not a dark exploration of neglect. Lucky’s absurdly ill-suited to care for a kid, and he’s never an enthusiastic guardian, but he can’t bring himself to just walk away despite the chaos the boy’s presence wreaks on his life.

Adu, who is, like much of the cast, a nonprofessional actor, has charisma to burn, but his scenes with the kid are some of this otherwise wonderful film’s weakest, his exasperation and self-pity quickly becoming repetitive and tiresome to us and to the other characters. It’s when he’s working the streets of the Garment District that he bests comes to life, and then “Prince of Broadway” hums along, a vivid snapshot of a dynamic, unpretty part of the city. Like director Sean Baker’s 2004 feature “Take Out,” which tracked a Chinese delivery man trying to get out from under a considerable debt, this film takes a tightly focused peek into lives and neighborhoods that are rarely represented on screen, portraying immigrant characters scrabbling for a toehold in America.

09022010_princeofbroadway2.jpgLucky’s story is paired with the personal dramas being faced by his boss Levon, an Armenian whose green card marriage became a real one, but whose young wife has started to pull away. Lucky’s situation is precarious — a setback late in the film calls to mind Ramin Bahrani’s “Man Push Cart,” in which everything a character gains can be lost again in the blink of an eye — but Levon, who seems to have an established life, a (semi-criminal) store, a nice apartment, a spouse, is revealed to also be perched on shaky ground.

Shot on the fly in HD, “Prince of Broadway” could serve as a film school example for how to make video work in one’s favor — it uses the immediacy and roughness of its look to its story’s advantage, the documentary feel adding to the sense of authenticity, and finds glimpses of beauty — and compassion — out on the snowy streets of New York when you’d least expect them.

“Prince of Broadway” is now playing in New York.

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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.