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A Good Reason to Be “Bitter” This New Year and More New DVDs

A Good Reason to Be “Bitter” This New Year and More New DVDs (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD today:

“Bitter Feast”
Directed by Joe Maggio
Released by MPI Home Video

When a food critic (“Humpday”‘s Justin Leonard) takes a butcher knife to the restaurant of a celebrity chef (James LeGros), the chef plots the ultimate revenge in this gory satirical thriller from director Joe Maggio. (My review from the Los Angeles Film Festival is here.)

“Case 39”
Directed by Christian Alvart
Released by Paramount

2010 is probably a year best forgotten by Renee Zellweger, who not only appeared in the execrable “My Own Love Song,” which went straight to Netflix, but also this thriller that was filmed in 2006, but didn’t see a release until last fall. Zellweger stars as a social worker whose latest case involving a child (Jodelle Ferland) that she believes is a victim of abuse leads to something far more terrifying. Bradley Cooper and Ian McShane co-star.

“Catfish”
Directed by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost
Released by Universal Home Video

The secret may be out, but if you’re only catching up to the conversation now, all you need to know about Joost and Schulman’s (possibly) nonfiction film is that it’s about a man who befriends an eight-year-old girl online and becomes infatuated with her older sister before deciding to meet them both in person. (Alison Willmore’s insightful yet spoiler-filled review of the film is here.)

“Celestial Films: The Supreme Swordsman”
Directed by Li Pai-ling
Released by Funimation

After killing his 99 other foes, the second most feared swordsman in China seeks to filet the only one considered better in this 1985 epic from Shaw Brothers’ protégé Li Pai-ling in the director’s chair.

“Dinner for Schmucks”
Directed by Jay Roach
Released by DreamWorks Video

A remake of French director Francis Veber’s “The Dinner Game,” Roach’s take on this comedy about a corporate climber (Paul Rudd) who is forced by his boss to find the most socially awkward person around (Steve Carell) to invite to a feast where he will be mocked and humiliated relies far more on physical humor than the wordplay of the original, but is worthwhile for the opening sequence of mice dioramas alone.

“The Edge of Dreaming”
Directed by Amy Hardie
Released by Kino Lorber

Director Amy Hardie looks into human subconscious in this documentary that resulted from the death of her horse only hours after dreaming it would occur.

“Fright Flick”
Directed by Israel Luna
Released by Vicious Circle Films

“Ticked Off Trannies With Knives” director Israel Luna keeps the blades out for this campy satire of slasher films where the set of a horror film is stalked by a killer on the loose. From early reports, Luna wasn’t shy about spilling blood.

01052010_Gun.jpg“Gun”
Directed by Jessy Terrero
Released by Image Entertainment

Already at work on the third film together (“Blood Out”), 50 Cent and Val Kilmer are threatening to become this generation’s Paul Newman and Robert Redford. As for their second film together, they play a gunrunner and cop respectively who help each other in Detroit when there’s a crackdown on arms dealers, though there are enemies neither could anticipate. Annalynne McCord and John Larroquette co-star in “Soul Plane” director Jessy Terrero’s thriller.

“Howl”
Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Released by Oscilloscope Laboratories

“The Life and Times of Harvey Milk” documentarians Epstein and Friedman make the leap to narrative features by profiling another San Francisco icon in beat poet Allen Ginsberg during the 1957 obscenity trial that followed the publication of his landmark poem (with a little animation thrown in to illustrate its hallucinatory nature). James Franco stars as Ginsberg with “Mad Men”‘s Jon Hamm onhand to defend him in court as Jake Ehrlich.

“The Last Exorcism”
Directed by Daniel Stamm
Released by Lionsgate

The marketing pushed Eli Roth’s role as executive producer on this low-budget horror flick to great effect, but it was director Daniel Stamm and writers Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko’s dark sense of humor and unflinching depiction of a backwoods family’s attempt to exorcise their daughter with the help of a preacher who lost his faith that makes this a welcome addition to canon of demon-chasing flicks. (My review of the film is here.)

“Machete”
Directed by Robert Rodriguez and Ethan Manquis
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

The smart folks at Sony decided to put out Rodriguez’s greatest hits — “Desperado”/”El Mariachi” and “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” — on Blu-ray to accompany the director’s latest, which puts Danny Trejo’s vigilante front and center amongst an all-star cast that includes Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, Cheech Marin, Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Rodriguez and Don Johnson.

“Sci-Fi High”
Directed by Daniel Belusci and Steve Dispensa
Released by Midnight Releasing

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe there’s too many other films in the alien invasion/’50s-style musical genre, so this one from Dan Bellusci and Steve Dispensa is a bit of a rarity. It’s hard to describe otherwise, but the trailer is here.

“Ticking Clock”
Directed by Ernie Barbarash
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Cuba Gooding Jr. stars as a journalist who may be in over his head after he finds his girlfriend’s corpse accompanied by a journal that lists the killer’s next victims, pitting him in a race against time to protect them. Neal McDonough co-stars.

01052010_TouchingHome.jpg“Touching Home”
Directed by Logan and Noah Miller
Released by Millennium Media Services

The no-budget making of this drama from Northern California-based brothers Logan and Noah Miller was so riveting it inspired a bestselling book “Either You’re In or You’re In the Way”, so now it has a DVD to sit next to it on the shelf, detailing the Miller brothers’ real-life travails after their failed pursuit of minor league baseball careers leads to figuring out what they want to do with their lives as they face the additional challenge of maintaining a relationship with their alcoholic father (Ed Harris).

“Who Loves the Sun?”
Directed by Matt Bissonnette
Released by Osiris Entertainment

Lukas Haas, Molly Parker and Adam Scott star in this dramedy from “Passenger Side” director Matt Bissonnette about the return of a man (Haas) who left town without explanation years earlier only to offer not much of an explanation when he comes back to his wife (Parker) and best friend (Scott).

“Wolvesbayne”
Directed by Griff Furst
Released by Millennium Media Services

One of those delightfully random casts you usually only find on DVD shelves, Jeremy London, Mark Dacascos, “Even Stevens” star Christy Carlson Romano and Yancy Butler appear in this vampires versus werewolves thriller.

“The Yellow Handkerchief”
Directed by Udayan Prasad
Released by Millennium Media Services

“My Son the Fanatic” director Prasad helms this drama about two teens (Kristen Stewart and Eddie Redmayne) who pick up a just-released inmate (William Hurt) and drive through post-Katrina Louisiana contemplating the solitude that has brought them together and the lure of relationships that could set them free.

Oldies But Goodies Resurfacing or Appearing for the First Time on DVD: Jack Lemmon’s “Good Neighbor Sam”, “The Notorious Landlady”, “Phffft!”, “Under the Yum Yum Tree”

New to Blu-ray: “Backdraft”, “Coraline” (3D Blu-ray), “Ever After”, “Hope Floats”, “Lost in Translation”, “A Walk in the Clouds”

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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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.