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Toronto 2010: “Everything Must Go,” Reviewed

Toronto 2010: “Everything Must Go,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.

It didn’t take long to start pondering the irony of writer/director Dan Rush’s surname while watching “Everything Must Go,” an adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story that would’ve been best left that way. Instead, it is a 95-minute opportunity wasted as Will Ferrell mopes around the front lawn of his home waiting for an epiphany that never arrives.

Ferrell plays Nick Halsey, a sadsack regional VP who is fired from his corporate gig, primarily comprised of giving inspirational speeches, and left by his wife on the same day. Although a return of Halsey’s battle with alcoholism is cited as the reason why the missus left, no such excuse is giving for laying out all of his stuff in front and not wanting to return. She may’ve had enough of him, but the only reasonable explanation is it provides the set up for one of those seriocomic examinations of middle age and suburban life, complete with a wry, hopeful score, elegant but subdued cinematography and an actor who would like to be known for more than comedy.

As far as the latter is concerned, Ferrell is a believable everyman, but morose to the point of indifference (not his, but ours). Since Halsey loses his job mere minutes into the film, he’s understandably deflated, and the additional indignities of losing his wallet and subsequently, his car to repossession push him back into drinking, which Rush doesn’t play for laughs, instead using the beer cans for angry outbursts where something needs to be thrown. Naturally, Ferrell can do the big emotions, but he appears a little less comfortable expressing the smaller ones unless it’s the punchline for a joke (and in fact a simple smirk provides one of the film’s bigger laughs). After plunging a Swiss Army knife engraved with his name into the tire of his former boss at work, the film’s energy seems to go out with the air. Unfortunately, that’s just five minutes in.

09112010_WillFerrellEverythingMustGo2.jpgEven though his unseen wife can’t be around him, he is far less offensive to the hot pregnant neighbor (Rebecca Hall) across the street and a young pudgy African-American kid (Christopher “C.J.” Wallace, who shares the effortless charisma of his late real-life father, the Notorious B.I.G.) who rides his bike down the block. The latter helps him with his eventual yard sale, which serves as his excuse to keep the cops at bay as he lives on the street, while the former gives him someone closer in age to talk to with problems of her own, serving the roles of a surrogate son and wife when Halsey has no one else, except an AA sponsor (Michael Pena) who one could hardly call a friend, having once arresting him during his day job as a cop for breaking into his own house while intoxicated.

One can tell the script for “Everything Must Go” must’ve been good, not only by the impressive cast that Rush assembled as a first-time writer/director, but in bits and spurts of cleverly devised dialogue throughout. Though one can feel the weight of every conversation in the film as having some profound meaning that the film can’t always deliver on, Rush has a light enough touch to not make it feel oppressive, even though as a director he needs to develop a better sense of picking up the pace. Ultimately, “Everything Must Go” isn’t a bad film, just an unnecessary one given all the other high-minded films that have ruminated on the perils of suburbia and the messed-up people who live in track housing. It’s even set in Arizona, so the desert is not just a metaphorical one for Halsey, but a literal one and speaking only for myself, it left me parched.

“Everything Must Go” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

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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.