DID YOU READ

“Potiche,” Reviewed

“Potiche,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Deneuve runs! France’s most immaculate actress kicks off “Potiche” in a tracksuit, jogging through the woods, controlling her breathing and taking in the birds, deer and mating rabbits along the path. She plays Suzanne Pujol, an impossibly glamorous neglected housewife — a potiche, a decorative object — whose husband Robert (Fabrice Luchini) cheats on her, ignores her in favor of tyrannically running her family’s factory (that makes, naturally, umbrellas) and, shame of all shames, forgets her birthday. Suzanne is uncomplaining and irreproachably coiffed, spending her days puttering around the house and turning a blind eye to her husband’s indiscretions… until the stress of striking workers destroys his health and leaves her temporarily in charge of running the company.

Based on a play by Pierre Barillet and Jean-Pierre Grédy, and set in 1977, “Potiche” finds Ozon back in the campy territory of “8 Women,” though the winking here is less aggressive and strained. François Ozon’s frothy, candy-colored comedy could be described as women’s lib kitsch — set in 1977, it’s the story of a mid-life awakenin and workers’ rights discussions that’s really just a giant valentine to Catherine Deneuve, visibly enjoying herself in the role.

Accused by her daughter Joëlle (Judith Godrèche) of complacency, Suzanne discovers a talent for negotiating with the workers and running an ethical, caring corporation (she dismisses a plan to outsource manufacturing to Tunisia as unfair to the longterm employees — ah, the movies) that leads to major changes in how she sees herself and her place in the world. Also in the mix is Maurice Babin (Gérard Depardieu), a local politician and communist party member who was once Suzanne’s lover; Nadège (Karin Viard), Robert’s secretary and lover who begins to reconsider her own position when Suzanne comes into power; and Laurent (Jérémie Renier), Suzanne’s art school son with a taste for Kandinsky and flamboyant scarves.

“Potiche” is not subtle in its storytelling — Robert is a cartoon villain, apoplectic and chauvinist, spouting lines like “Your job is to share my opinions, not have your own,” which makes it all the easier to take pleasure in Suzanne’s flowering in her new position and new responsibilities. But even as she triumphs, Suzanne is never vengeful or angry. Her journey is one of self-discovery, not striking back, and when she finally discards Robert it’s almost as an afterthought, the new life she’s discovered far more involving than any resentment she might have carried.

“Potiche”‘s most affirming moment may actually be the turn taken in the storyline with the fond Babin, after Suzanne unapologetically confesses to details of her romantic past — this isn’t a film about a woman finding the man she should have ended up with, it’s one about her discovering the life she wants to lead.

“Potiche” will be released by Music Box Films in 2011.

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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.