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Film Comment Selects Fires on All Cylinders

Film Comment Selects Fires on All Cylinders (photo)

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Somehow the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center seems like the last place you’d expect to see the Rutger Hauer thriller “Hobo With a Shotgun” blasting through, but it’s a fitting way to introduce this year’s Film Comment Selects series, which begins tonight in New York with both guns a blazin’ and runs through March 4th.

As Nick Pinkerton noted in the Village Voice this week, there’s “a downright dedication to evil” with this year’s selections, which include the enjoyably excruciating Korean revenge thriller “I Saw the Devil” and the soon-to-play-SXSW return of “Saw” director James Wan’s “Insidious.” And yet there’s so much goodwill on display since many of the films gracing the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s screens are without American distribution and may prove to be hard to see in the future.

One of these gems that as of yet won’t be appearing Stateside anytime soon is Thomas Vinterberg’s “Submarino,” which sees a return to form for the “Celebration” director in a story about two brothers who deal with tragedy as young boys and struggle to overcome their proclivity to be their own worst enemy in later life. Likewise, there will be rare U.S. screenings of “Love Exposure” director Sion Sono’s darkly comic serial killer thriller “Cold Fish,” the German murder mystery “The Silence,” the French drama “Domaine,” which has been repeatedly touted as a favorite of John Waters, and the series’ closing night film, John Landis’ latest comedy “Burke and Hare,” featuring Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis as grave robbers who have to find a way to keep up with demand for product from the local medical school.

The real hellraising commences with special presentations of Alex Cox’s “Straight to Hell Returns” (with the “Repo Man” director appearing in person), Gianfranco Rosi’s documentary “El Sicario, Room 164,” about a Ciudad Juarez hitman, and “Klaus Kinski: Jesus Christ the Savior,” which sees Werner Herzog’s favorite leading man play the son of God and work through his issues on stage in a reading of a 30-page monologue he wrote himself. Speaking of Herzog, the director’s 3D documentary “Cave of Forgotten Dreams” that examines the paintings in France’s Chauvet caves will be playing on February 20th.

As if to cleanse the soul, the series is also playing host to more somber films, but nonetheless thrilling for cinephiles. After an uncertain fate because of government intervention, Lu Chuan’s triumphant epic about the Nanking massacre, “City of Life and Death” will come to U.S. shores, as will rare screenings of French actress/auteur Islid le Besco’s gentle relationship dramas “Demi-Tarif,” “Charly” and “Bas-fonds” on February 19th. Fresh off the triumphant re-release of “Shoah” in the States, there’s also a tribute to the Claude Lanzmann with the docs “A Visitor from the Living,” about the guilt of a Red Cross doctor who reported positively on the status of Jews in concentration camps, “Sobibor, Oct. 14,” which centers on an interview with a Holocaust survivor who helped stage the only successful uprising in one of the camps, and “The Karski Report,” the documentarian’s latest film that centers on Jan Karski, a Polish whistleblower who tried desperately to expose the Holocaust before it grew and often went unheard.

The series will also offer once-in-a-blue-moon screenings of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s “I Only Want You to Love Me,” the German director’s 1976 parable about a young man who fills a personal emptiness with shopping, and the late “Bullitt” director Peter Yates’ first film, the action-packed ’60s potboiler “Robbery.” If there’s a set-up here, it’s for a wild couple of weeks ahead at the Walter Reade.



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.”


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. 


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.


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…


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.


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


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