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“Taxi Driver” is Indeed Talkin’ to You and More New DVDs

“Taxi Driver” is Indeed Talkin’ to You and More New DVDs (photo)

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A look at what’s new on DVD and Blu-ray today:

“Taxi Driver” (1976)
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

One can read about the extensive restoration of what many consider to be Martin Scorsese’s finest film at The Digital Bits, but if you’re a film fan, you might not need convincing to pick up the latest edition of the film about the disillusioned cabbie, which includes all the special features from the previous DVDs of the film (a feature-length making of doc, a score of shorter featurettes) while adding the commentary track between Scorsese and writer Paul Schrader that originally appeared on the 1986 Criterion laser disc. All in all, it’s the definitive edition that the film deserves.

“Casino Jack” (2010)
Directed by George Hickenlooper
Released by Fox Home Entertainment

Even at the height of his powers, disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff might not have been able to maneuver his way through all the pre-release craziness that plagued Hickenlooper’s dramedy about Abramoff’s rise and fall as a political power player, beginning with the “Factory Girl” director’s tussle over the film’s title with documentarian Alex Gibney and then ultimately the director’s untimely death before it made it into theaters. However, Hickenlooper’s final film sees Kevin Spacey in his element, wheeling and dealing with partner-in-crime Michael Scanlon (Barry Pepper) to swindle from Indian gaming interests to win favor with politicians like Tom DeLay (Spencer Garrett). (Matt Singer’s review is here.)

“The Heroes of Telemark” (1965)
Directed by Anthony Mann
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

It’s been a long wait for this Anthony Mann World War II drama, but for fans of the Kirk Douglas and Richard Harris, it should be well worth it as the two stars go head-to-head leading the Norwegian resistance to destroy a water plant the Nazis have commandeered to aid their efforts to create a nuclear bomb.

“Little Fockers” (2010)
Directed by Paul Weitz
Released by Universal Home Video

If you were to go by the advertising for the third installment of the Robert DeNiro-Ben Stiller family comedy, you’d believe the central plot would involve a staring contest, but alas, it concerns Greg Focker (Stiller) once again proving his worth to his father-in-law when he starts selling pharmaceutical drugs to compliment his salary as a male nurse to support his growing family and a series of complications result from when Jack (DeNiro) doesn’t believe him. Barbara Streisand, Owen Wilson, Teri Polo, Blythe Danner and Dustin Hoffman are all back, in addition to newcomers Laura Dern, Harvey Keitel and Jessica Alba.

“I Love You Phillip Morris” (2009)
Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa
Released by Lionsgate

As Jim Carrey told Matt Singer at Sundance ’08, the directorial debut of “Bad Santa” scribes Ficarra and Requa is just about “a guy who needs love and goes to any lengths to get it.” For a script he rated as high as “The Truman Show” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Carrey went to great lengths to get the role of Steven Jay Russell, a police officer-turned-con artist who leaves his wife (Leslie Mann) in Texas to live an openly gay lifestyle in Miami, only to find his true love (Ewan McGregor) in prison when one of his schemes goes awry.

“The Mountain” (1956)
Directed by Edward Dmytryk
Released by Olive Films

Spencer Tracy stars with Robert Wagner in this drama about brothers who must scale a treacherous peak to reach the survivors of a plane crash, but although Tracy’s motivations are purely altruistic, Wagner is after the monetary remains of the dead.

“The Night of the Generals” (1967)
Directed by Anatole Litvak
Released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

A Sam Spiegel production, his “Lawrence of Arabia” stars Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif lead the cast of this World War II-set thriller about three German generals (O’Toole, Donald Pleasence and Charles Gray) who are the suspects in an investigation into the death of a Warsaw prostitute.

“The Taqwacores” (2010)
Directed by Eyad Zahra
Released by Strand Releasing

Michael Muhammad Knight’s novel about the Islamic punk rock scene serves as the basis for Zahra’s feature debut about a Pakistani college student (Dominic Rains) who falls in with a group of Koran-reading punk rockers in Buffalo.

“Tron”/”Tron: Legacy” (1982/2010)
Directed by Steven Lisberger/Joseph Kosinski
Released by Disney Home Entertainment

Ah, remember those terrible days of December 2010 shortly before “Tron: Legacy” opened when the DVD of the 1982 original was going for more than $100 on the open market since it had been long out of print? Well, of course, only four months later, it is being released once more separately or in a five-disc package with its sequel, which tell the story of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges) in the original and his son (Garrett Hedlund), both hackers who are drawn into the computer world and have to win a series of games to escape. Besides seeing those pretty lightcycles once more, the main attraction on the “Legacy” disc is the inclusion of a short epilogue called “The Next Day,” featuring original “Tron” star David Warner that acts as a bridge to a follow-up film, should there ever be one. (Evan Narcisse’s review of “Tron: Legacy” is here.)

New to Blu-ray: “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence”, “Benny & Joon”, “Jawbreaker”, “Lars and the Real Girl”, “Much Ado About Nothing”, “Mystic Pizza”, “The People Vs. Larry Flynt”, “Peter Pan”

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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.