DID YOU READ

Tribeca 2011: “The Carrier,” Reviewed

Tribeca 2011: “The Carrier,” Reviewed (photo)

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If you were to watch “The Carrier” without subtitles, there are many points at which you’d suspect nothing is wrong and perhaps that’s the saddest statement the film makes of all. A documentary about the life of a polygamous family in Zambia where the beauty of the landscape is diametrically opposed with the tragic spread of HIV between the members of the Mweeba clan, Maggie Betts’ film often features its subjects as expressionless when discussing contraction of the disease as though it’s an accepted part of life in their community, a feeling that emerges not out of a lack of care, but years of defeat.

For the family’s patriarch Abarcon, it’s a minor inconvenience, a price he pays for sleeping around with multiple partners both within and outside of his marriage, but for his three wives Brenda, Matildah and Mutinta, it’s tantamount to a death sentence well before they’re felled by the ultimately fatal symptoms of HIV as they live in constant fear of succumbing to AIDS or passing it onto their children. While the film only chronicles what appears to be a few months in their lives, it’s obviously emblematic of a cycle that was firmly established generations before and that the marginalization of women will only continue unless they start to challenge their place in society, a realization that comes to Mutinta when she discovers she’s carrying the latest of Abarcon’s many, many children.

Even without knowing anything about the making of “The Carrier,” it wouldn’t take long to guess that Betts was involved as an AIDS activist before she got into filmmaking, a fact that while being sussed out by a little research is evident from the film’s strident portrayal of Mutinta’s gradual empowerment after she entered into a marriage with Abarcon without knowing of his other wives and likewise, Abarcon’s nonchalance about the way he’s infected the lives of others in both the literal and figurative sense. (It’s actually the casualness of Abarcon, a handsome if not particularly charming or imposing man dressed in breezy shirts with David Beckham and Guess logos, that’s one of the film’s main points of interest, as he can’t easily be demonized.) Yet even if it seems at times that the weight of Betts’ passion is focused more on making a point than telling a story, the one she finds in the small village of Monze is too powerful to be denied.

That “The Carrier” is elegantly shot by cinematographer Kathryn Westergaard and crafted to get the maximum amount of tension from whether or not the wives’ current pregnancies will result in HIV-infected babies makes it far more engaging than most like-minded documentaries, but as one that earns its ultimately hopeful and uplifting conclusion, it’s a rare film that’s rewarding not only because it’s enriching, but because it’s richly told.

“The Carrier” currently has no U.S. distribution, but will play the Tribeca Film Festival again on April 25th, 26th and 30th.

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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.