DID YOU READ

Tim Grierson on the Year’s Forgotten Gems

goodbye-first-love

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Most critics agree that 2012 will be remembered as a particularly strong movie year. Whether it’s “Zero Dark Thirty” or “The Master,” “Moonrise Kingdom” or “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Amour” or “Holy Motors,” bold films were everywhere. The only downside to such a terrific year is that some superb smaller films have been pushed into the margins, overlooked by critics’ groups, end-of-the-year lists, and Oscar bloggers. With that in mind, I thought I’d select five that are absolutely worth your time that I haven’t mentioned in any of my columns this year. If you were having trouble narrowing down your 2012 favorites to a Top 10, these selections will only further complicate your process…

Goodbye First Love – This French drama from filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve tackles an age-old subject, but with a real daring and freshness. An impressionable teenager named Camille (Lola Créton) is utterly smitten with her older boyfriend Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky), convinced that they’re meant to be together forever. So what is she supposed to do when Sullivan decides to travel the globe and leave her behind? “Goodbye First Love” takes a clear-eyed perspective on the passionate unreasonableness of young love, quietly observing as Camille mourns for the guy who turned his back on her. Créton bravely allows Camille to be exasperating and moody, such is the seeming permanence of her stubbornly broken heart.

It’s Such a Beautiful Day – When we think of animated movies, our minds go to major productions like “Brave” or “Wreck-It Ralph,” where hundreds upon hundreds of animators and other artists are working together to make big blockbusters. By comparison, Don Hertzfeldt makes personal, do-it-yourself projects. This year, he released “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” which compiled two previous short animated films with a new final installment, all about a luckless gent named Bill coping with the ennui of regular life. The three-piece movie runs just over an hour, but with wry humor and some utterly poignant touches, it addresses the complexity of life, death and family in such a way that it’s very nearly overpowering.

Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present – For those who are allergic to performance art, an entire documentary about heralded, divisive art-world figure Marina Abramović might sound like hell. But director Matthew Akers delivers a portrait of an icon made human as she prepares for her latest show, which will involve her sitting quietly and expressionlessly in a chair for several hours each day while museum patrons take turns sitting opposite her. Abramović will only stare back at them, and likewise “The Artist Is Present” gazes back at her as she goes about her craft. But this is no dry academic treatise: Few films this year made me cry as much as this one, in part because of the extraordinary (albeit brief and silent) connection she makes with her fans during this exhibit.

Middle of Nowhere
– This year’s Sundance helped launch “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “The Sessions.” But don’t forget about this wonderfully observed Los Angeles drama about a young woman named Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) who promises to wait for her husband (Omari Hardwick) while he serves a prison sentence. But Ruby’s devotion to her man leaves her in an emotional purgatory that keeps her own life from moving forward, which causes all sorts of complications when a gentlemanly bus driver (a superb David Oyelowo) starts to develop feelings for her. Great performances, realistic stakes, genuine feeling — writer-director Ava DuVernay has crafted a movie with the richness and care of a novel.

Only the Young
– Of the many strengths of the documentary “Only the Young,” chief among them is how loving and nonjudgmental filmmakers Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims are about their subjects: three teens living in Southern California negotiating the anxiety of adolescence. Raised Christian but loving skateboarding and punk music, Garrison, Kevin and Skye are observed as they deal with crushes and broken families, and the movie blessedly never tries to categorize them, letting their contradictions speak for themselves. It also doesn’t hurt that “Only the Young” is quite often simply beautifully made, weaving together the teens’ conversation with images from their desert hometown that capture a universal sense of longing and isolation that any young person can recognize. Like many of 2012’s forgotten gems, “Only the Young” may not have made many waves, but its precise, wonderful artistry makes one ponder how many other wonderful films are out there waiting to be discovered.

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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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