DID YOU READ

“Homeland,” Reviewed

“Homeland,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Before he directed 1988’s astounding “The Vanishing” and 1993’s astoundingly disappointing American remake of the same film, Dutch filmmaker George Sluizer made a trilogy of documentaries entitled “Land of the Fathers” that followed two Palestinian families through their experiences in 1974, 1978 and 1983 — the last, “Adios Beirut,” he mentioned was sold to PBS but never broadcast. With “Homeland,” one of the films making its world premiere at Abu Dhabi, Sluizer revisits those two families, now spread out over Lebanon, Colombia, the U.A.E. and other locations, and also puts himself and his feelings about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict center stage.

“Homeland” starts quietly, with Sluizer discussing his own history, the earlier films, the aneurysm two years ago that left him needing crutches or a wheelchair to get around, and how that brush with mortality encouraged him to revisit the past. It ends with him looking in on a comatose (and heavily Photoshopped) Ariel Sharon, telling him the world would have been a better place if he’d died in Auschwitz along with much of Sluizer’s Dutch family. So, no mincing around with ambiguities here. The sincerity of Sluizer’s feelings are without question — his reunions with each family member, particularly the elderly head of the large Hammad family, are tearful and joyous, his fury in the face of the displaced from their homes palpable.

But “Homeland” wanders into browbeating Michael Moore-style documentary techniques, even before Sluizer’s diatribe to an unhearing, hospitalized Sharon. He walks up to Jewish settlers living in a formerly Arab house in East Jerusalem and asks to speak to the young man who answers the door on camera. When the young man says that someone else in their household speaks to the press and that he’s not home at the moment, Sluizer taunts “I guess now the most oppressed have become the oppressors!” An interview he does get with an American settler who needs no help looking ridiculous is nevertheless abusively edited to cut her off mid-sentence in her responses. Discordant string music swells behind periodic quotes from Sharon and others about how “if I was only an Israeli civilian and met a Palestinian, I would burn him and make him suffer before killing him.”

Regardless of where you stand on Israel and Palestine, the amount of vitriol on display in “Homeland” and the determined one-sideness of the argument is startling and off-putting, the language on occasion powerfully uncomfortable — Sluizer speaks, for instance, about the biased reporting of all the “Jewish news agencies.” These things basically guarantee “Homeland” will never screen for an audience not already sympathetic towards and invested in the Palestinian cause — it won’t win someone over. (It’s slated to eventually air on the Aljazeera Documentary Channel, but at the moment has no theatrical distributor in place.) It’s fiery agitprop, but it’s not a well-made movie.

“Homeland” 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.