DID YOU READ

“The Illusionist,” Reviewed

“The Illusionist,” Reviewed (photo)

Posted by on

There’s one fundamental question that always has to be asked when the subject turns to great filmmakers’ “lost” scripts: why was the script lost? In the case of “The Illusionist,” a script written (but never filmed) by the great French director Jacques Tati, press notes tell us that the material “was far too serious a subject for his persona and he chose to make the classic ‘Playtime’ instead.” That’s another reason why you should never doubt the instincts of a master: “Playtime” is one of the greatest movie comedies ever made, while the new film of “The Illusionist,” adapted animated by the talented French cartoonist Sylvain Chomet, is a beautiful looking mess.

If that quote — which is actually from Chomet himself — in the press notes is true, then Tati sensed that his Monsieur Hulot character, the genial bumbler he played in his films, was all wrong for “The Illusionist.” And another quote from Chomet states that “because the character of The Illusionist is definitely not another Monsieur Hulot, Sophie Tatischeff [Tati’s daughter and executor of his estate] didn’t want to see any of that character’s familiar trademarks dramatized by another actor.” So instead Chomet’s “Illusionist” casts an animated version of Hulot — or at least Tati — in the lead role of Tatischeff, a touring magician eking out a meager living as the show business landscape changes all around him.

From a technical perspective, Chomet’s work is uncanny: he has created an utterly believable cartoon Tati. HIs movements, gestures, and posture are so perfect, you might think that Chomet had managed to motion capture Tati before he’d passed away. But Chomet only captures the form of Tati without much of the function. I have to agree with Tati’s initial assessment of his own work: Hulot doesn’t really belong in this story, and his presence in “The Illusionist” makes it feel like a weak movie by Tati instead of a solid one by Chomet.

The primary relationship in the film is between Tatischeff and a naive young girl named Alice, who works as a barmaid in a tiny Scottish village. Increasingly out of place in music halls, where rock and roll bands are all the rage and sleight-of-hand gags are totally passé, the Illusionist embarks on a tour in search of more appreciative audiences. Alice is certainly that; she actually believes Tatischeff’s illusions are genuine magic. Enchanted, she follows him to his next gig in Edinburgh where she learns about the world while Tatischeff tries to satisfy her desires by “magically” giving her all of her heart’s desires (while secretly working many jobs to afford her appetites).

The best scenes in the film are the early ones, where the Illusionist watches helplessly as rock and roll destroys his livelihood. In these scenes Tatischeff doesn’t represent Tati; he represents Chomet, the 2D cel animator in a world increasingly overrun by 3D and computer generated imagery. And just as he did in the enchanting “Triplets of Belleville,” Chomet makes a compelling case for classical cel animation as an artform that’s still capable of producing uniquely gorgeous imagery. But he loses me when Tatischeff finds Alice. Their relationship is intended to play as bittersweet and whimsical, but mostly he seems sad and she seems dumb, and even a little cruel.

Tati was no stranger to comedies with tragic dimensions. But his comedies were still funny, sometimes hysterically so. “The Illusionist” is more cute than hilarious, and watching Tati in it I kept waiting for him stop simply resembling the director I love and start delighting me as he does in his own films. Maybe that was an unreasonable expectation. But I have to think if Tati saw “The Illusionist,” he’d wonder the same thing.

“The Illusionst” opens in limited release on December 25.

Neurotica_105_MPX-1920×1080

New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

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_CC_Neurotica_Series_Image4

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.

Neurotica_series_image_1

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.

Posted by on
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?”

via GIPHY

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).

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

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.

via GIPHY

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

PL_409_MPX-1920×1080

Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

Posted by on
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.

via GIPHY

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.

via GIPHY

Forget Public Wifi

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

via GIPHY

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.

via GIPHY

Self Defense

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

via GIPHY

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