DID YOU READ

Toronto 2010: “Trust,” Reviewed

Toronto 2010: “Trust,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.

Nothing comes easy in “Trust,” a drama about pedophilia that will inevitably face heavy scrutiny should it make it out of Toronto, and even with Clive Owen and Catherine Keener, there’s reason to be skeptical. It is at once an attempt to deal with one of the last taboos in a way that keeps audiences engaged and it’s directed by one of the stars of “Friends” that refuses to employ the stylistic flourishes or overt moralizing that usually make such films easier to digest. Yet a lack of artistic creativity shouldn’t be mistaken for a lack of narrative ambition.

Schwimmer takes the road less traveled with “Trust,” the story of a 14-year-old named Annie, who becomes the victim of an online predator after months of IMs and texts with a boy she thinks is her own age, discussing volleyball and the other girls at her school. Except that Annie never really considers herself a victim, even after she meets her virtual boyfriend ChRLeeCA in the flesh, discovers he’s 40 and the two engage in not entirely consensual sex at a local motel where her mind drifts after some uncertain protests. In her eyes, if she’s a victim of anything, it’s what happens after the act, when her admission to a friend at school leads to a search for a man she still considers her “boyfriend” that truly has nasty repercussions.

Since Owen plays her father, this would be the part where you’d expect him to double pump a nearby shotgun and get angry for her, but to their great credit, the script from Andy Bellin and Robert Festinger leaves far more ambiguity than that. (It’s worth noting Festinger was last co-credited with the screenplay for “In the Bedroom.”) As the adult most shaken by Annie’s situation, Owen goes from pushing forward with an ad campaign of scantily clad models at work to wondering what he’s done wrong as a parent when there really might not be an answer. (Keener plays his wife and hits some nice grace notes in an underwritten part.)

09112010_Trust-1.jpgTo build some tension, Schwimmer indulges in some searching for the wanted pedophile, bringing in a FBI investigator (Jason Clarke) and a psychiatrist (Viola Davis) to help with any familial trauma, but “Trust” defiantly bucks the notion of being a chase film or some sort of Lifetime movie of the week in favor of realistically depicting the aftermath of such an incident. In their anger and confusion, Keener and Owen raise their voices more than once over what to do, appearing less mature at times than their young daughter who has the insecurities of a teenager that feed into her headstrong nature. First-time actress Liana Liberato gives a poised performance as Annie, though if there is any concession to the reality of movies versus actual reality, it’s that her cherubic dimples scream an innocence that tips the film’s hand as to where it’s going in the first act.

Schwimmer also has his limitations as a filmmaker, for better or worse. Whereas “Run Fatboy Run” suffered as a comedy from his restraint, “Trust” benefits from it, usually knowing when to let certain scenes breathe and when to pull back in others. There are a few instants where a heavy hand pokes through – Owen’s internal struggle ultimately manifests into some unexpected physical violence and Schwimmer is none too subtle in amping up the score and going crazy with the editing. But by that point, he’s generated enough goodwill by respecting the audience’s intelligence to make the more uneven aspects forgivable.

Considering there haven’t been many films of note to take on pedophilia with sophistication and ample consideration, and the few that have usually try to provoke by taking great strides to humanize the pedophile, “Trust” is a bold film, just for humanizing the victims by showing their flaws and making their plight seem all the more relatable.

“Trust” currently does not have U.S. distribution.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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