“In Your Hands,” Reviewed

“In Your Hands,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

The steamier side of sympathizing with your captor gets showcased in “In Your Hands,” a guilty pleasure of a Gallic drama that’s the second feature from writer/director Lola Doillon (the daughter of filmmaker Jacques Doillon). Kristin Scott Thomas, demonstrating once again her ability to act just as dexterously in French as in English, plays the brittle Anna Cooper, an aloof surgeon who lives for her work, and lives alone in Paris. At the film’s outset, she’s hurriedly making her way back to her chic apartment, looking distressed and starting at the smallest sounds. Home, she plugs her drained phone in order to check her voice mail. She was abducted and held prisoner for days, but none of the messages — from her mother, from her boss at the hospital, from her married lover — are concerned or urgent. No one noticed she was meant to have come home from vacation days ago.

Anna, we see in a flashback that comprises the majority of the film, was kidnapped by Yann Ochberg (Pio Marmaï) — Frank Ochberg being the name of the psychiatrist who defined Stockholm syndrome — a good-looking wreck of a young man whose life fell apart after the death of his wife a few years ago. She died following a Cesarean section performed by Anna, who the court cleared of all fault, but on who Yann has placed all blame. The icy Anna never showed up to the hearing.

Yann has no plan in place. “I want to hurt you, but I don’t know how,” he tells his hostage, who he keeps locked in a small room whose one window has been bricked up, but he’s not a man capable of murder or premeditated violence. The power struggle between Yann and Anna is waged over small humiliations and small rebellions. Anna refuses to eat. Yann taunts her about her bedraggled state and how she looks in his old clothes. She ignores him, and he intrudes on whims to threaten her or tell her what she did to his life. But Yann is, more than anything else, crazily lonely, and Anna in her more intentional solitude (her ex husband has remarried and has three kids with someone else) is also vulnerable to the need for company. After an explosion of alcohol-fueled brutality, the pair reach a detente, and then something more amorous.

At a trim 80 minutes, “In Your Hands” skips along in staccato scenes, keeping the sense of time passing vague, but never lingering long enough to make either the progression of Yann and Anna’s relationship nor what happens once Anna is free very plausible. Still, the simmer between relative newcomer Marmaï and Thomas is formidable. Ochberg, a long-lashed, sad-eyed bundle of anger and neediness, can’t help but be ridiculously romanticized — like Anna, we want to read his occasional kindnesses as indicators of a good, if wounded, heart, and brush over his less forgivable actions as driven by sorrow and grief. While abrupt, “In Your Hands” does summon the giddy, logic-free airlessness of life immediately following a trauma, mainly through the strengths of its two talented leads.

“In Your Hands” (Contre Toi) does not currently have U.S. distribution.


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…


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. 


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

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.


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.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



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.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.