Tribeca 2011: “Saint,” Reviewed

Tribeca 2011: “Saint,” Reviewed (photo)

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If Santa Claus ever wanted to sue the movie business for slander, he’s starting to have a case. As if the kind interpretations of the North Pole denizen such as Tim Allen’s “The Santa Clause” series or that terrible 1985 film starring John Lithgow weren’t bad enough, he’s had to deal in recent years with the Icelandic Finnish “Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale,” which imagined Santa as a psychotic child abuser, and now Dick Maas’ “Saint,” which suggests the Dutch holiday of Sinterklass is all a big ruse so that Saint Nicholas, a renegade bishop, can return from the dead to seek vengeance in the village where he met his demise in 1492.

The St. Nick in “Saint” doesn’t pretend to like children – he carries around a golden sceptre with a scorpion-like ornamentation on the tip to decapitate them, should he see fit. But since this is R-rated fun, he doesn’t bother with the little ones, instead tormenting a group of college students in the present day as part of his tradition every 32 years to come out during the full moon. He did, however, traumatize one young boy named Goert, a child who was asked to check on the family’s pigs one Sinterklass while inside his parents are slaughtered back in 1968 and now when a rash of killings begins to take place around the holidays, the grown Goert, who has an itchy trigger finger around gifts, is asked to lead the investigation.

“Saint” doesn’t develop much further beyond your average slasher film from there, although the kills are inventive enough and it remains fascinating to see what Europeans have been doing with studio-level special effects to enhance their set-pieces, which take the film into the realm of the spectacular. One sequence in particular – a thrilling police chase where the cops try to shoot down St. Nick as he gallops on his white steed across the rooftops of Amsterdam – seems as though it came out of Timur Bekmambetov’s bag of tricks, but feels fresh with the energy it brings to what at first feels like a smaller-scale film.

When you add in the relatively serious tone Maas brings to an otherwise ridiculous enterprise much like Bekmambetov or Tommy Wirkola (the Norwegian director of “Dead Snow”) – both of whom are now making Hollywood productions – it feels like a potential calling card for future gigs, especially since the film is constantly jumping from one genre to another, starting out as a horror film and ending up as a siege thriller when its protagonists end up on a boat lying in wait for St. Nick. That may not have been the intention since Maas has been making films in the Netherlands since the ’80s, yet just as the film is constantly reinventing itself, perhaps Maas is as well.

Regardless, “Saint” feels like the work of a younger director, with all the messiness that comes with it, but also the sharp edge. Of course, that’s a good thing if you’re in the mood for a St. Nicholas that’s more likely to leave corpses under the tree than gifts.

“Saint” was picked up for U.S. distribution by IFC Midnight and will play the Tribeca Film Festival once more on April 27th.


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.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

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.


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.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



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.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.