DID YOU READ

“Wild Target,” Reviewed

“Wild Target,” Reviewed (photo)

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It’s odd what films make you a believer in the auteur theory. A few years before I had ever heard of Andrew Sarris or really started to dig into Cahiers du Cinema, I had watched a review of the Michael Richards-Jeff Daniels comedy “Trial and Error” on “Siskel and Ebert” where Roger Ebert showered praise on the film’s attention to detail, particularly how Charlize Theron looked both ways for traffic before crossing the street. The film was the second courtroom-set comedy directed by Jonathan Lynn, a journeyman if there ever was one after coming to the U.S. following a career in British television (most notably as a writer on “Yes, Minister”).

This is worth mentioning since “Wild Target” bears all the hallmarks of Lynn’s best films, despite being, even at a tidy 90 minutes, a bit too long. It is silly but not stupid, conforms nicely with the conventions of screwball comedies, and once again displays the director’s ability to bring the best out of his actresses, whether it’s Theron, Marisa Tomei in “My Cousin Vinny,” Amanda Peet in “The Whole Nine Yards” or even Beyonce in “The Fighting Temptations.” (It’s no coincidence his weakest films have weak female characters (“Sgt. Bilko”) or have men playing them (“Nuns on the Run”).)

10292010_WildTarget2.jpgIn “Wild Target,” Emily Blunt is the clear object of Lynn’s affection, even if Bill Nighy is the real lead of the film as a hitman tasked with taking out a conwoman named Rose (Blunt), who has successfully passed off a Rembrandt forgery, and becomes infatuated with her instead. For Nighy’s prim, precise Victor Maynard to fall for her, Lynn must do so first, delighting in showing the type of trouble in store for Maynard when Rose tools around London on a bicycle, sneaking past cars at an intersection that she causes to crash and bewildering museum security guards. But once trouble catches up to Rose, which it does in the form of the wronged art collector Ferguson (Rupert Everett), she unwittingly flips Maynard from murdering her in a parking lot to killing the second hitman Ferguson has sent for her. (There is some small pleasure in the oddity that the third assassin sent to kill Blunt’s Rose is the British “Office”‘s Tim, Martin Henderson, has been hired as the third hitman to kill the real-life wife of the current American “Office”‘s Jim, John Krasinski.) Rupert Grint takes a rare step away from Ron Weasley to join Nighy and Blunt on the road after he witnesses the whole thing as a scruffy car wash attendant.

“Wild Target” is able to get by on the chemistry between the trio, and some clever wordplay in Lucinda Coxon’s adaptation of Pierre Salvadori’s 1993 original French film “Cible émouvante,” for about two-thirds of the film before reaching a point where Maynard and Lynn don’t know what to do with Rose, with the former taking her up to his country home for protection, robbing the latter of further opportunities to explore her devious streak. A life of domesticity doesn’t suit either Maynard or Rose, but that’s the direction “Wild Target” takes for much of the final third, with the two taking on roles completely unnatural to them that seems like an unintentional condemnation for their past crimes. And for a comedy that finds most of its humor in death, considering a life beyond one of crime is no life at all, though as the free-spirited Rose would likely be given to say, it’s fun while it lasts.

“Wild Target” is now open in limited release.

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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.