DID YOU READ

“Turkey Bowl,” Reviewed

“Turkey Bowl,” Reviewed (photo)

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It’s hard to make a movie as good as “Turkey Bowl” precisely because it looks so easy. It’s just a 65 minute film told in real time about the annual football game between a bunch of old college buddies, right? Wrong. Think of all the nearly invisible elements that had to go right. The continuity in every shot has to match, from the quality and color of the lighting to the spreading sweat stains on the player’s shirts. Each play had to be diagramed and executed, and re-executed from every necessary angle, and then edited together to tell the story not only of the game but of all the rivalries, friendships, and feuds playing out on its sidelines. The only reason “Turkey Bowl” looks easy is because director Kyle Smith executed it with the skill and finesse of a Pro Bowl quarterback.

Smith — who, full disclosure, went to school with my brother (we’ve never met) — wrote the film and cast many of his friends to play fictionalized versions of themselves. Mostly they’re buddies from college, though Kerry (Kerry Bishé from the final season of “Scrubs”) recruits two strangers she meets in the park to join the squad. As they’re welcomed into the group, we meet the rest of the guys, like meathead Bob (Bob Turton), wiseass Morgan (Morgan Beck), and (my favorite) droll Tom (Tom DiMenna). They make a believable group of college friends: the sort thrown together by random chance and proximity and then united by shared experience and intense living arrangements. Like true old friends, they don’t spend much time voicing their feelings; part of the fun of “Turkey Bowl” is intuiting the histories between these characters from the dirty looks they exchange, or bitter jokes they make.

Like true old friends, some of them are closer than others. Without the intense living arrangements, others have started to drift apart. Again, little of that is said, but all of it is present in the way they play this game. It’s a small, compact film, but it feels like it’s been drawn from a bigger, expansive world. The film is just 65 minutes, short for a feature, but the right length for “Turkey Day,” even if it diminishes its chances of finding national distribution. 65 minutes is just enough time to get invested in the characters and the game and not enough time to get bored with the fairly repetitive nature of its structure.

As funny as “Turkey Bowl” often is, its melancholy ending underscores just how sad such annual rituals like this are. Even as they give us an opportunity to reconnect with friends, they remind us that we’re getting older and growing apart from the people we love. “Turkey Bowl”‘s single location and real-time structure (it begins with the arrival of the first players and ends with the departure of the last) isn’t just a low-budget trick or a narrative gimmick. Emphasizing the passage of time in the story forces us to consider the passage of time in our own lives, to realize how fleeting those happy moments are and how they matter so much more than the score of a football game. Yes, the film’s short. So is life.

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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.