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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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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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.

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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.