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Rachid Bouchareb Goes “Outside the Law”

Rachid Bouchareb Goes “Outside the Law” (photo)

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“I need to wait a few years to make another movie like this,” says Rachid Bouchareb, the director of “Outside the Law.” It’s a statement that doesn’t need much explanation, though not for the reasons you might think. Roughly a thousand protesters came out of the woodwork to picket the “Outside the Law”‘s premiere at Cannes this summer, a response to the film sight unseen by French nationalists who believed Bouchareb’s portrayal of one of the nation’s darkest hours as their occupation of Algeria violently came to an end during the mid- 20th century.

Months later, through a translator, Bouchareb appeared to shrug off the protests, saying, “France has been in this sort of debate about colonization and it’s own past for many years. And that debate always sort of turns into a political one.”

So what did intimidate the director about “Outside the Law”? Having to deal with the thousands of extras required over two weeks of shooting to mount Sétif massacre of 1945, a turning point in French-Algerian relations that left 103 people dead and provided the entry point for Bouchareb’s stirring follow-up to his Oscar-nominated 2006 World War II drama “Days of Glory.”

“To prepare the movie we took more than one year,” says Bouchareb. “Fourteen months preparation with a crew, 10 months to prepare and build the sets. [“Days of Glory”], the movie before, it was easier because you had one costume, one location.”

11192010_RachidBoucharebOutsidetheLaw.jpgThe scope of the film, which involved filming in four different countries, might’ve been new to Bouchareb, but the actors involved weren’t. “Outside the Law” actually carries over three of the central cast members from Bouchareb’s last historical epic — Jamel Debbouze, Roschdy Zem and Sami Bouajila – yet they do not play the same roles, going from soldiers fighting for the French military, in spite of the discrimination they faced as Algerian enlistees, to brothers who separately work towards independence for their North African homeland.

That Bouchareb considers “Days of Glory” to be an easier shoot might sound strange, considering much of the action in “Outside the Law” takes place not in the heat of battle, but in the backrooms of the Parisian underground where Debbouze’s crafty Saïd paves the way for his more politically-motivated brothers with his investments in a cabaret and a young boxer who could be Algeria’s first champion in the ring. Meanwhile, the brothers Abdelkader (Bouajila) and Messaoud (Zem) integrate themselves into the FLN, a rebel liberation organization that resorts to violence to get their message across.

In a way, the brothers’ approach is an apt metaphor for “Outside the Law” itself, which finds its momentum as a traditionally rousing rags-to-riches crime narrative while thoroughly examining the myriad forces that determine success or failure in Algeria’s push for freedom. (Bouchareb has routinely cited Jean-Pierre Melville’s “Army of Shadows” as a reference point for its slow simmer.) However, that isn’t to say that the director agrees with that assessment.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a crime story,” says Bouchareb. “The crime, the reason behind it, is the politics. The only crime is to want to be a free man.”

Given the film’s epic scope and the tightening of film financing these days, it’s a little surprising that Bouchareb says he had no trouble pulling the production together, a byproduct of the international success of “Days of Glory,” though the ambition behind it firmly puts it in the camp of films mentioned as the kind they just don’t make anymore.

11192010_OutsidetheLaw4.jpgYet despite successfully managing the logistics of filming such large-scale scenes as a recreation of the Sétif massacre or “Outside the Law”‘s climax inside a subway station using the passing subway cars to witness public riots, Bouchareb appears to be prouder of the smaller moments, something that prompted discussion of his last film, “London River,” on more than a few occasions in the course of conversation. Still unreleased in America, the film centered on the families of victims of the London subway bombings, starring Brenda Blethyn as a mother in search of her daughter who forges a connection with a West African Muslim man (Sotigui Kouyate) who is looking for his son. (“It’s a wonderful movie,” Bouchareb says, beaming, adding that he wanted something less intense between “Days of Glory” and “Outside the Law.”)

And indeed, he will get his wish to make a smaller film for his next project, a buddy comedy between two female police officers called “Belleville’s Cop,” which will shoot in Los Angeles early next year. Co-written with “48 Hours” screenwriter Larry Gross, the film will revel in the culture clash between an Arab and American cop, something that’s been hallmark of Bouchareb’s work to date.

“My movies are kind of always the same theme,” says Bouchareb. “‘London River’ has parts of ‘Outside the Law’ and parts of ‘Days of Glory.’ ‘London River’ has the African guy go to London. In “Days of Glory,” they go from North Africa to Italy. It’s about cultures meeting. What changes is the way I change to film it.”

“Outside the Law” 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.