Something’s Got a Hold on Me, And I Don’t Know What: “Somewhere,” Reviewed

Something’s Got a Hold on Me, And I Don’t Know What: “Somewhere,” Reviewed (photo)

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As we left our screening of “Somewhere,” a colleague observed that he’d never been to the Chateau Marmont, where much of the movie is set, but that he “couldn’t believe how crappy it looked.” I’ve never been there either, and while I’m not sure that that’s the description I’d choose, as it’s sketched out in the film the famous West Hollywood hotel doesn’t conform to any of the expected trappings of luxury — the grounds look rambling and overgrown, the eclectic furniture comfortably broken in, the overall air studiedly unpretentious. It’s a very high-end version of what George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air” deemed “fauxmey” — a shabby chic, sun-dappled aerie filled with beautiful, sometimes famous playmates, where everyone knows your name and room service is available 24 hours a day.

That sense of coddled coziness is important to Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), because the Marmont is the hotel he lives in when not off staying at other hotels, on shoots, press days and Italian award shows. Johnny is a movie star and, as far as we can divine, a very famous one, enjoying an easy, debauched break between features. So rudderless is his lifestyle that his days are shaped by the people who show up at his doorstep or call him on the phone — his agent rings to tell him a car will be out front in 15 minutes to take him to a junket; he comes home to find his best friend presiding over a party in his suite; he wakes up to find his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) signing the cast he has on the arm he broke taking a boozy accidental dive down some stairs. Cleo lives most of the time with her mom and Johnny’s ex Layla (Lala Sloatman), but she comes to stay with her father twice — the first time as a regular instance of a partial custody agreement, the unscheduled second because her mother needs some space.

12222010_somewhere3.jpg“Somewhere” has obviously echoes of Sofia Coppola’s earlier melancholy movie star story “Lost in Translation,” playing out like a minor B-side to that better film, though one with its own petite pleasures. While “Lost in Translation” focused on a relationship enabled by the impermanent jetlagged bubble of displacement of a Tokyo hotel, that bubble is where Johnny has chosen to spend his life, the only abiding aspect of which, the only permanent mark he’s left on the world beyond a string of the more forgettable type of multiplex movie, is his 11-year-old child.

He’s a charming, unreliable bastard, a noncommittal man so sedated by indulgence that he’s arrived on the cusp of middle age without a moment of self-reflection. Women are always either throwing themselves at him or throwing a tantrum at him when he fails to return their calls or treat them with respect. Even Cleo is enchanted by him but wary — there’s no doubt that he loves her, but also that he’s made no larger place for her in his life. On a trip to Rome, for instance, they spend an evening watching TV and ordering in gelato, but after she’s gone to sleep he summons a former lover he ran into in the lobby, the three taking an awkward breakfast together in the morning.

Johnny and Cleo’s time together is everything of substance in this wisp of a movie, and Fanning is touchingly good as a little girl whose still takes delight in the giddy perks of A-list existence, but no longer really finds them enough to make up for her only semi-present dad. When her breakdown happens, it is, like most of the emotional moments in the film, all the more powerful for being underplayed — a child weeping with worry that her parents are too busy with their own needs to pay attention to hers. Johnny’s own comeuppance, on the other hand, is artless and heavy-handed, a bald stating out loud of what had been delicately left understood before. Or maybe it’s that Johnny’s more an absence of a main character than any active force (something that is, admittedly, part of the point of the movie), and so whatever change happens in him over “Somewhere”‘s course seems more like a new impulse to be indulged rather than any growth.

12222010_somewhere4.jpgIt’s a seductive thought, that the most beloved and pampered of stars can find their lives empty and emptied of meaning, and “Somewhere” seems aware of and plays into our desire for celebrity schadenfreude a bit. Coppola’s unmoving camera observes from a wry remove the pole-dancing pair of strippers Johnny orders to his room, or his race car circling a track, zipping in and out of the frame but never going anywhere. And yet, through the unaffected gaze of Cleo, these things seem magical again, for Johnny, of course, but also for us in the audience. Sure, it’s a shallow existence, but it can also be pretty sweet — providing you have someone to remind you of the fact.

“Somewhere” opens in limited release today.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.


IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines


The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.


Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.


A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.


Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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