DID YOU READ

Can’t Be At Cannes 2011, Thursday Edition

Can’t Be At Cannes 2011, Thursday Edition (photo)

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It sucks not being at the Cannes Film Festival. To keep you up-to-speed on all the latest developments with the minimum amount of pain and jealousy, we’ll be providing frequent roundups of all the biggest news and best reviews. This is the first; future installments, along with all our Cannes coverage, can be found here.

Woody Allen’s 458th film (estimated), “Midnight in Paris,” kicked off this year’s Cannes Film Festival with the best reviews of any movie the legendary auteur has made since 2005’s “Match Point.” Todd McCarthy from The Hollywood Reporter says the film, about a screenwriter (Owen Wilson) vacationing in Paris who discovers a way to journey back to the city circa the 1920s, has “the concision and snappy pace of Allen’s best work.” Stephanie Zacharek went even further over at Movieline, where she calls it “the best Allen movie in 10 years, or maybe even close to 20.” What what whaaaat? I will let Stephanie explain further:

“Allen has often made a practice of pouring himself into his lead characters, sometimes with embarrassing, unwatchable results (as in the case of the aspiring comedy writer played by Jason Biggs in ‘Anything Else’). Wilson is an unlikely vessel for this sort of thing — and yet he’s the perfect one, illuminating some aspects of Allen’s persona that have often lain dormant and others that, perhaps, Allen only wishes he had. “

If you want to spark your own Woody Allen career consideration of the sort surely going on up and down the Croisette today, you can find excerpts from the “Midnight in Paris” press conference over at Anne Thompson’s blog or pour over Scott Foundas’ lengthy interview with the director in LA Weekly. Foundas is on the “Midnight in Paris” bandwagon too, by the way, calling his new work “as sublimely enchanting as any Allen film since 1985’s ‘The Purple Rose of Cairo.'”

The one big dissenting voice on “Midnight in Paris” I’ve read online so far comes from Mike D’Angelo over at The A.V. Club. He wasn’t a fan:

“Frankly, the Bill and Ted movies demonstrated more creativity than Allen manages here; as is often the case with his late work, I had the distinct impression that I was watching a first draft. But maybe I was just thrown off by the hideously uncharitable portrait of McAdams’ anti-imaginative fiancée. Literally everything she says or does makes her out to be the world’s pre-eminent killjoy (the better to drive Wilson into a romance with ’20s flapper Marion Cotillard). Thirty years ago, Woody was capable of introducing Diane Keaton as an insufferable know-it-all (in ‘Manhattan’), then revealing the credible human being underneath the amusing caricature. Now, not only is he content with a single dimension, he can’t even be bothered to give his shrewish Wrong Gal any first-class zingers.”

D’Angelo also weighs in one of the other two early heavy-hitters at Cannes, Julia Leigh’s “Sleeping Beauty.” We previously covered the film’s intriguing trailer on IFC.com, and though D’Angelo isn’t completely won over by Leigh’s work (he grades it a C+ on the A.V. Club’s scale) his description of its story about a sex worker played by “Sucker Punch”‘s Emily Browning who “agrees to be repeatedly drugged into unconsciousness and left naked in a bed, where elderly men can use her in any way that doesn’t involve penetration” is certainly an attention grabber. Peter Bradshaw namechecks all kinds of cinematic heavy-hitters in his review for The Guardian, comparing the film to everyone from Kubrick to Buñuel to Haneke, a fascinating stew of influences if I’ve ever heard one. Meanwhile The Telegraph compares it to a hybrid of Jane Campion (who is credited as a presenter of the film) and Lars von Trier:

“Browning’s performance is utterly fearless, suffused with mystery, cold as ice. Leigh’s spare screenplay trusts the audience to fill in the imaginative spaces, and her framing is precise and economical. Fast-rising composer Ben Frost contributes a potent score. What a strange, ensnaring achievement, not least for a first-time feature, ‘Sleeping Beauty’ is: no male director could have made it.”

Last but not least there’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” from “Ratcatcher” director Lynne Ramsay and based on a novel by Lionel Shriver. The film stars Tilda Swinton as the mother to the titular troubled character played by Ezra Miller, the talented teenage star of recent indie films like “Afterschool.” At indieWIRE, Eric Kohn says Swinton is “breathtakingly fragile” in “a sensationally moving evocation of the ultimate dysfunctional family.” Brad Brevet from Rope of Silicon says “the sound design, the editing, the cinematography, the direction and Swinton’s performance are Oscar caliber.”

I’m going to be very careful not to say too much more here because I already feel like I’ve had some of the film spoiled by a few loose lipped critics. Keep your own inclinations toward spoilers in mind as you link over to those articles. We need to talk about Kevin, guys, but maybe we should be just a little bit less specific about it.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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