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Scandinavian Interiors: “Corridor” and “Fatso,” Reviewed

Scandinavian Interiors: “Corridor” and “Fatso,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at Fantastic Fest 2010.

The lonely men of the Swedish “Corridor” and the Norwegian “Fatso” have a lot in common. They live by themselves, they’re uncomfortable with other people, they like to eat in front of their TVs, and their solitary lives are disrupted by flaky, outgoing girls who drive them nuts with their loud lovemaking and demands for interaction.

The woman in “Corridor” (written and directed by the Johans Lundborg and Storm) is Lotte (Ylva Gallon), a hairdresser who corrals her downstairs neighbor Frank (Emil Johnsen) into first helping her move desk, then in loaning her some laundry detergent, then in shifting her boyfriend Micke’s (Peter Stormare) motorcycle. Micke has some anger issues, and Frank, an anal-retentive med student who would rather spend all of his time studying, finds the addition of Lotte and her lover to the building begins to really get in the way of his work. “Corridor” doesn’t offer anything groundbreaking in the world of claustrophobic dark comedies, but it makes thorough use of its setting, a building with pairs of apartments set in cluttered hallways coming off a spiral staircase, and thin walls and creaking floors that telegraph every approach.

Frank’s not entirely together, it’s soon clear, though we see everything from his paranoid, sleep-deprived point of view. Even before he starts to obsess that Micke’s done something to Lotte and will soon come for him, Frank is unable to tolerate others — he hates that the neighbor’s kid leaves her scooter by his door, he doesn’t socialize with his classmates, he curt with the elderly woman who manages the building. It’s to “Corridor”‘s benefit that there’s no explanation given for what’s made him so uptight (beyond the hint of high family expectations), and that the film maintains its dry sense of humor throughout. A scene where Micke puts chewing gum over Frank’s peephole, leaving him unable to see whether the coast is clear, speaks more to urban isolation than a thousand scenes of forlorn dinners. Unwilling to move from where he’s holding the door shut, Frank calls everyone in his phone, attempting to get someone to agree to come over and help him. No one will. It’s late, the buses have stopped running.

09242010_fatso1.jpgArild Fröhlich’s “Fatso” could also be described as a dark comedy, though the route it ends up taking is softer than that of “Corridor.” Rino (Nils Jørgen Kaalstad), its hero, is an overweight compulsive masturbator who lives alone in a spacious apartment still decorated the way his grandmother kept it when she was alive. He has one friend, a dirty-talking, hard-drinking, chain-smoking asthmatic named Fillip (Kyrre Hellum), and he divides the rest of his time between his job of translating manuals for machinery from German to Norwegian, porn and drawing a comic book about his sexual frustration and self-loathing, in which he appears as a portly rhinoceros.

In walks Malin (Josefin Ljungman), a pretty, waifish 20-something waitress from Sweden who’s trying to get her life back in order, to not drink so much, or do drugs, or get involved with disastrous men. Rino’s parents rent her a room in his apartment, and awkward antics ensue. You’d imagine, in a Hollywood movie, this story would climax with Rino and Malin getting together and helping each other get over their problems. “Fatso” doesn’t. It climaxes with a scene of self-mutilation — huzzah! “Fatso” doges most of the usual lovable loser cliches by having its main character be, much of the time, genuinely repellent and self aware enough to know it, and by insisting on honestly in the changes he tries to make in his life. Rino’s problems are not going to be solved by a manic pixie deus ex machina girl — he can only begin to approach them by deciding he actually want to engage with humanity again, instead of giving up and shutting himself inside for good.

“Corridor” and “Fatso” do not currently have US distribution.

[Additional photo: “Fatso,” Paradox Spillefilm A/S, 2008]

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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.