DID YOU READ

Romain Duris, A “Heartbreaker” At Last

Romain Duris, A “Heartbreaker” At Last  (photo)

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Despite a wicked grin and a thicket of curls that makes the ladies swoon, Romain Duris has mostly avoided being cast in the role he was ready made for, so obvious it’s the title of his latest film “Heartbreaker.” Yet while it is a rare romantic comedy role for star better known for dramas such as “Paris” and “The Beat My Heart Skipped,” it is a film that makes good use of Duris’ status as one of France’s most versatile actors. In it, he masquerades as a gospel singer, a construction worker, a Benihana chef, and a skyscraper window washer, among other guises, to infiltrate the lives of women in bad relationships, at the behest of their exes, friends and immediate family and bust them free to find love elsewhere. But even with two crack sidekicks (“Micmacs”‘ Julie Ferrier and François Damiens) at his command to find vulnerabilities to play upon, Duris’ lothario Alex meets his match in Juliette, an engaged auctioneer (Vanessa Paradis) whose only flaws to exploit are a love of ’80s American pop culture staples like “Dirty Dancing” and Wham!

An devotee of Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder, not to mention the more recent “Notting Hill,” Duris has done the genre proud in director Pascal Chaumeil’s feature debut, a frothy screwball comedy by way of “Mission: Impossible.” To mark the occasion, the actor recently flew across the Atlantic to be honored with a mini-career retrospective at the BAMcinématek in New York before making his way to the Toronto Film Festival in a week for the premiere of “The Big Picture,” a drama in which he stars as a lawyer with a perfect life until a tragedy causes him to give it all up. During a short detour in Los Angeles, Duris spoke about both films, good times in Brazil and why he loves to cry.

You just got back from New York — is it strange having a career retrospective when you’re so young?

It’s an honor, but of course, it’s strange for me to try to feel how people think about you when I’m here. I’m always surprised when I meet people who watch my movies. I’m like, wow, because it’s far — L.A. and New York, so each time someone on the street or in bars recognize me and tell me [they notice me] from my films, I’m very, very moved because it’s great because cinema is like that, it’s free and it’s traveling.

08282010_RomainDurisHeartbreaker3.jpgIn regards to this film, both you and Vanessa are both better known for your dramatic work. Did that bring something to doing a romantic comedy?

I did the same work, the same research for the character I do when it’s more dramatic. For me, I have no rules, no method, but I thought the same way for a drama as this comedy.

Still, Alex’s closing move with women is to cry, which I hear was what appealed to you about the role.

Yes, I really loved this part of the character because to be honest, it reminds me of my beginnings when I had to cry in movies. I was like Alex, like this (wincing off to the side) and trying physically to make a strange face that would bring me some tears because I didn’t have any method, so it was funny.

In order to win over Juliette in the film, you have to sing “Wake Up Before You Go Go” and learn Patrick Swayze’s whole dance number for “I’ve Had the Time of My Life.” Were you self-conscious singing and dancing in front of Vanessa who has such history as a pop star?

Yes! [laughs] It was intimidating, but I love to dance and I loved the challenge — and I like Vanessa, and she loves to dance too, so I wanted to be at the same level. It was challenging and I worked a lot for the dance to make it fluid.

08282010_RomainDurisHeartbreaker2.jpgWere you a fan of “Dirty Dancing” before the film?

No, actually I didn’t see the movie before, but I like this kind of films from the ’80s from the U.S. because there’s a taste, a flavor that you can’t find now. It’s more a tenderness for these kind of movies.

You’ve talked before about how hard it is to find financing to make more difficult films in France. Did that contribute to wanting to make something a little lighter and are you getting more active in trying to get films made?

No, I think it’s still difficult and it’s getting more and more difficult to find money to do interesting movies and we can see that also with “Heartbreaker.” It was difficult to find money for the producer to make it, so I don’t know if [my] name… yes, I receive a lot of scripts. I’m lucky to choose, but I don’t know if it helps.

Since we’re in the U.S., I was wondering about your experience on “Afterwards,” which was your first starring role in an English-language film. How was it for you?

It was great. Actually, the locations were crazy — to shoot in New York, Manhattan, Brooklyn, for a little Frenchman like me, it was a dream. So that was very strong and to play with John Malkovich also was a very important thing. And yes, to play in English was interesting for me because it was new and once again challenging and it’s not the same rhythm as in French, so I had the pleasure to feel emotions and to react in English — it was great here.

08282010_RomainDurisBigPicture.jpgMeanwhile, you’re going to Toronto — are you excited about the premiere of “The Big Picture”?

We didn’t show the film to other people, so Toronto will be the real first premiere. I’m very curious about what the audience is going to think because I like the movie. The movie is more a thriller — it’s very different than “Heartbreaker.”

You’ve been to lots and lots of film festivals at this point — do you have a favorite experience?

In Tokyo, it’s crazy because the country is crazy. [laughs] What I like in festivals is even if you are doing a lot of interviews, you have the opportunity to travel and [be amongst] people and go out at night and feel the town. I have very good memories in Tokyo.

In Brazil, it was crazy because I did a festival in Brazil and I met someone who was working in the festival and he offered me the key to his house in front of the beach, so I spent ten days in his house! Obviously, I keep more human sensation than just interviews and how people react — I like to feel more how the people live there and the countries that I don’t have the opportunity to go [to otherwise].

Are you enjoying the reception for “Heartbreaker”?

Yeah, it’s crazy – to travel with a film is crazy, because yes, it’s true, we discuss with people who don’t have the same culture and who don’t speak the same language and it’s very interesting to see what they feel and sometimes it’s surprised me a lot. That’s the very great point of the cinema.

“Heartbreaker” opens in New York and Los Angeles on September 10th.

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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.