DID YOU READ

“Red White and Blue,” Reviewed

“Red White and Blue,” Reviewed (photo)

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This review, which is appearing as part of our coverage of Fantastic Fest 2010, originally ran during the 2010 SXSW Film Festival.

“Red White & Blue” is sort of like a slasher movie in which every character functions as both the killer and the prey. The film has three protagonists; all of them victims, all of them guilty. Everyone is wronged. Everyone, in turn, commits wrongs in retaliation.

Like its title, the film has three parts, one for each protagonist. First, we meet Erica (Amanda Fuller), who spends night after night sleeping with an endless parade of anonymous hookups. She’ll sleep with anyone, it seems, but only once, and only if she doesn’t know them. Clearly troubled, she’s deeply suspicious of anyone who is kind to her, even the patient, polite Iraq war vet who lives in the same co-op as she does and who gets her a job at the hardware store where he works.

His name is Nate (Noah Taylor) and while he clearly takes pity on Erica, there are signs that he, too, is not mentally well — by way of explaining his kindness toward Erica, he tells an unsettling story from his childhood that involved remorselessly torturing animals. The third lead is Franki (Marc Senter), a musician in the Austin music scene with a cancer-stricken mother. His one-night stand with Erica in the beginning of the film leads to a major discovery that throws all three characters on tilt for the rest of the movie.

The story that explodes from these three characters’ confrontations bears certain resemblances to other slasher films and even to torture porn, but director Simon Rumley is far more interested in experimenting with form than pleasing genre classicists. One of his most provocative choices is the use of unconventional montage editing, particularly in the opening sequence that establishes Erica’s promiscuous routine. He cuts from establishing shots right into the middle of scenes, then cuts away again after two or three lines of dialogue. The unusual rhythms never let the audience grow comfortable; the result is a near subliminal sense of discomfort that builds slowly, minute by minute.

03222010_RedWhiteBlue2.jpgEven at the end of the film, when “Red White & Blue” builds towards a killer crescendo after one character goes hunting for another and the story begins to more closely resemble a more traditional horror film, Rumley still refuses to concede to gory expectations. In fact, the camera, which glimpses the violence but never wallows in it, seems as unsettled by the gore as we are.

There are numerous visual allusions to the stars and stripes in “Red White & Blue;” a flag that hangs outside a character’s house, another on the back of one character’s vest. Given that title, the flag motif, and Nate’s status as a deranged veteran and possible undercover agent for the CIA, should the film be seen as a statement about something intrinsically violent in the American spirit? All these characters have is an ongoing cycle of tragedy and retribution. We use those colors — red, white, and blue — to describe our flag, but also in phrases like “blood red,” “white hot anger,” and “black and blue bruises.” They may be American colors. They may also be the colors of violence.

“Red White and Blue” is available on demand from IFC Midnight for the next month.

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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.