DID YOU READ

“The Last Mountain,” Reviewed

“The Last Mountain,” Reviewed (photo)

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In the state where it takes place, “The Last Mountain” occupies the loneliest corner, the “last “referring to the Coal River Mountain, the only peak that hasn’t been reduced to rubble for the sake of coal production in West Virginia. And the film itself, the latest from “The Price of Sugar” director Bill Haney, is equally isolating, a well-built argument against the destruction of the Appalachian mountains to feed our nation’s energy needs that ditches any sense of objectivity early on and directs its message firmly at those who already lean towards banning corporations from drilling to prevent the destruction of the region and worse, the debilitating effects on the health of its citizenry as both the water and air become contaminated with coal dust.

Even amidst the debris, Haney clearly lays out the gradual demolition of mountain tops and the erosion of laws that were intended to protect them from the 1970s forward. In Haney’s view, this is an apolitical debate between those who value life and those who don’t, making the villains’ greed especially reckless. Fox News is a conspicuously ambivalent presence during news montages, the then-Governor of West Virginia, now-Senator Joe Manchin, who doesn’t miss a chance to say he’s a “friend of coal,” is a Democrat and the growing swell of anti-coal advocates look the part of those who should be voting Democrat but likely skew red.

RobertFKennedyJrLastMountain_06012011.jpgYet the film still finds a white knight in Robert F. Kennedy Jr., less a subject for the film than a collaborator who helps illustrate West Virginia’s plight from a state of idyllic horse farms to polluted ghost towns, and an obvious villain in Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who’s introduced wearing a particularly garish red, white and blue outfit and bragging about the $1 million he’s spent on the pro-coal rally he’s speaking in front of. You probably don’t need me to tell you that Blankenship is on the hook for a lot more than money in Haney’s documentary — between the lobbyists Massey’s hired to press for less drilling restrictions and the workers he’s let go to make way for machines, he’s left behind blackened earth where communities used to be.

That much of “The Last Mountain” actually is beautiful, with polished cinematography from the trio of Tim Hotchner, Stephen McCarthy and Jerry Risius and deft editing by Peter Rhodes, makes the medicine go down easier, but there’s no doubt to some, it will still feel like medicine, even as expertly executed as the final product is. As a film, it suffers from a syndrome of many activist-driven documentaries, which as important as they are, still connect on an ideological level rather than an emotional one, despite the scenes of the elderly being dragged from town hall meetings and the visible rage of the talking heads. There is a narrative compiling the testimony of environmental scholars and local victims, but not necessarily a story to cling onto for anyone who is not already a believer in their cause. Still, “The Last Mountain” offers an education and if you’re willing to listen, it’s a devastating history.

“The Last Mountain” opens in New York and Washington D.C. on June 3rd before expanding into limited release.

Do you want to see “The Last Mountain”? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook

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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.