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Tribeca 2011: “The Good Doctor,” Reviewed

Tribeca 2011: “The Good Doctor,” Reviewed (photo)

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As a general rule, it’s usually considered unwise for a heartthrob type to play a bad guy early in their career, which is a shame since being easy on the eyes always makes the pain when they plunge the knife in just a little more painful. Orlando Bloom’s Dr. Martin Blake doesn’t want to have anything to do with knives – his desire to make it into the internal medicine program is so he’ll never have to administer needles, let alone a scalpel. Yet with hair swept over his forehead, you know Bloom has finally gone over to the dark side as Blake, a first-year resident who drowns in moral quandaries after becoming unusually obsessed with one of his patients (Riley Keough).

One wouldn’t be entirely wrong to think Blake is interested in the pyelonephritis sufferer Diane because of her blue eyes and blonde hair, but where John Enbom’s script becomes really interesting is by suggesting he’s enchanted equally by the idea of the girl’s family, dysfunctional as they are, who invite him over for dinner after he successfully cures their daughter. Living alone himself in a beach house with nothing but white wine, reheatable dinners and a fancy sound system to play classical music, Blake has only the comfort of going to work each day to keep him company.

Even there, he’s out of place surrounded by a nurse (Taraji P. Henson) who doesn’t defer to him, an orderly (Michael Pena) whose lack of decorum constantly dismays him, and a chief (Rob Morrow) uninterested in mentoring him, despite his best efforts to be respected by all three. Soon after believing he’s accidentally misdiagnosed a Mexican patient he can’t understand, Blake suddenly sees an opportunity for companionship when he’s invited over to the girl’s home and takes the time to switch her prescription without her knowledge, landing her back in the hospital, thus beginning an incredibly slippery ethical slide.

The film is actually reminiscent of “Shattered Glass,” which subverted the image of its leading man (Hayden Christensen) as the matinee idol who can be trusted simply because how could someone so clean cut not be? But it’s also the lack of charisma that such types are usually criticized for that becomes an asset, the blankness that lets them recede into the background even if they’re at the center of the frame, because first you’d never suspect them of anything, let alone imagine they think about anyone but themselves. Bloom doesn’t necessarily project this, though his past résumé is a string of films that has failed to pull out of him what he delivers in “The Good Doctor,” a person who is constantly thinking about others, not just of what they think of him, but as a way of deflecting attention from the unfortunate life of solitude he’s carved out for himself.

It’s a character study grafted onto a thriller and not only is Bloom game, but he brings with him an unusual group of collaborators that make it unsettling in all the right ways. Directing his first American film, Lance Daly, who previously helmed the excellent and completely unsentimental Irish love story “Kisses,” shoots much of the film at a remove, observing Blake’s descent without really commenting on it with any ornamentation until the final act, making the antiseptic aesthetic not just a practical choice to depict hospital life, but a creative one as it reflects the gray area of the doctor’s behavior before it all very much turns to black.

A couple niggling plot details prevent a full embrace of the film – for some reason, Diane doesn’t attend the dinner that she’s said to have wanted set up for Blake, and later on, J.K. Simmons comes around as an investigator who’s not a particularly strong interrogator. Yet “The Good Doctor” is too entertaining to dismiss for those reasons alone. It may be an unhealthy pleasure, but a pleasure nonetheless.

“The Good Doctor” currently does not have U.S. distribution, but will play the Tribeca Film Festival on April 26th and 30th and May 1st.

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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.