DID YOU READ

“The Fourth Dimension” – First impressions of Val Kilmer’s Tribeca film

Val Kilmer in "The Fourth Dimension"

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By Jordan Hoffman

If nothing else, “The Fourth Dimension” marks a new way for me to accord a film with a basement-level backhanded compliment. I won’t recommend you go so far as to rent it or catch it on cable, but I do urge you to, in time, watch clips of it YouTube.

This anthology film is ostensibly about the concept of space-time, though only one of the three shorts puts this premise front and center. None of the shorts are any good (one is flat-out unwatchable) but the first of the three is notable in its meme-readiness. I’m speaking about “The Lotus Community Workshop,” directed by Harmony Korine, starring Val Kilmer as Val Kilmer.

Set in a neon-lit arcade/roller rink, Kilmer spazzes out as a manic motivational speaker before a freakshow group of losers. Seemingly ad-libbed, Kilmer’s verbal dexterity is able to hold your attention longer than you might think, especially as there is only the thinnest thread connecting his carpet-bombed brain droppings. He’s accompanied by a DJ who adds cheap sound effect punctuations to nearly every other sentence and, I must say, the joke manages to get funnier the longer it goes. If the desired intent is to simulate watching a faith healer while on LSD, mission accomplished.

Intercut with the “sermon” is footage of Kilmer riding his bike around town, talking about his mission with civilians, and renting a video game with a woman in corn rows. The short ends really proud of itself, with a song on the soundtrack and a closing-credits tag discussing the need for a catch phrase. You’d think that someone so colossally hipper-than-thou as Korine would eschew such a victory lap, but I suppose he has an easy out by saying that even this celebration-of-its-own-cleverness is meant to be in quotes. Fine. The truth is that there are many very entertaining moments in the “The Lotus Community Workshop,” and Korine is back on firmer ground after his insufferable last feature “Trash Humpers.”

The second film, Alexy Fedorchenko’s intensely Russian sci-fi short “Chronoeye”, has a neat concept even if its ending is wholly predictable. A science genius who turned down $1 million in prize money works feverishly in his dilapidated apartment. He’s seen putting a giant magnet (or something) atop a tower and is now using the field generated from it in connection with a helmet-cam and a monitor to “see” into the past.

For brief instances he can catch a glimpse of someone’s POV at certain moments in time. Alas, these snippets only frustrate him more, as they offer no understanding. Further, he is haunted by visions of hands playing a piano. Only when he connects with his annoying neighbor (an attractive young dancer who, as luck would have it, has a fetish for older men driven mad by the demons of his past) is he able to see a possible future.

It’s a reasonably cute short, but on the nose moments like shouting “I need God’s point of view!” is something only a Slavic tongue can get away with.

The final film, “Pawns” by Jan Kwienciski, is hardly even worth discussing. Its defenders (if there are any) may argue that it is an allegory and not meant to be taken at face value, but I say you can take it face value – as a substitute for Ambien.

A group of wildly-clothed youth run around an abandoned town as news broadcasts talk about an encroaching storm. Eventually, they leave.

“The Fourth Dimension” is produced in conjunction with Vice Magazine, and while I loathe that publication and its odious worldview, I swear to you I went into this film without any foreknowledge of their involvement. Indeed, “Chronoeye” isn’t very “Vice” at all and “The Lotus Community Workshop” seems of a piece with Korine’s earlier work, much of which I enjoy (specifically “Julien Donkey-Boy.”) I can’t tell you if “Fawns” has the Vice aesthetic – I’m not trendy enough to know when clothes look crazy or are on the cutting edge. I can say, however, that all films, even ones produced by those whose life’s work it is to make others feel bad about themselves, ought to strive to at least not be boring.

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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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