IFC explores the ins and outs of sexy independent filmmaking.
In its day, Splendor in the Grass (1961) set censors and other various Puritans frothing at the mouth simply by virtue of its steamy imagery-conjuring title. But 45 short years later, the thought of its young stars Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty struggling with their teenage hormones seems, if not downright innocent, at least quaint.
A far cry from the nearly brutal sexual rankness of Kids (1995), or thirteen (2003), Splendor and films of its ilk have done a lot of growing up in the last 40+ years, as have their audiences. Addressing that maturation and its consequences is Indie Sex, a four-part documentary series presented by the Independent Film Channel (IFC).
Individual segments, titled Censured, Extremes, Taboos, and Teens provide clips from celebrated and controversial films, many of which highlight gay content.
Queer film icons Guinevere Turner, Heather Matarazzo, John Cameron Mitchell, and John Waters are just four of the industry experts providing commentary, with Waters appropriately lending his expertise to the Taboos segment. The work of David Lynch (Eraserhead, Twin Peaks) and Atom Egoyan (Where the Truth Lies, Exotica) are among the unique and outrage-invoking films addressed in this episode.
Providing additional background narration are provocative indie faves Rosanna Arquette, Ari Gold, Miranda July, Tatum O’Neal, Piper Perabo, Billy Porter, Peter Sarsgaard, Ally Sheedy, and Dita Von Teese, among others.
Filmmakers Lisa Ades and Lesli Klainberg know their subject well, having produced 2006’s award-winning Fabulous! The Story of Queer Cinema.
Airs July 31 through August 4, 11 p.m., with repeats throughout the month. Details: www.ifc.com.
For his fifth Shakespearean screen outing, Kenneth Branagh adapts that most sweetly loony and breezily beguiling of the bard’s comedies, As You Like It. He makes it the more winsome by setting it in 1800s Japan, so the Duke’s merry men do thai chi in the Arden woods and sad Jacques (played by Kevin Kline no less) is serenaded in a raked sand garden. The fair Rosalind (Bryce Dallas Howard) and her enamored cuz Cecilia (“whose loves are dearer than the natural bond of sisters”) go in drag as a couple, and Rosalind sets up a gender merry-go-round in her cross-dressing disguise, even persuading her beloved to make love to her when he thinks she’s a boy. Branagh’s created a likable new As You Like It, both lively and intelligent. Includes Alfred Molina as the fool Touchstone, with some really tall hair. Premieres August 21 at 8 p.m. on HBO (www.hbo.com). — Review: Ann Walton Sieber
Bill Maher: The Decider
The outspoken host of Real Time with Bill Maher heats up an already plenty hot summer in a live concert from Boston’s Berklee Performance Hall. Likely replete with stinging references to Scooter “Less Time Served Than Paris Hilton” Libby, the show premiered July 21, but repeats throughout August on HBO (www.hbo.com). — Preview: N.F.
ON SHOWTIME ?
Her boyfriend just got snuffed, one son is about to be busted for having a trunkload of pot, and her other son is on the lam with her nine-toed brother-in-law’s ex-girlfriend, all while she’s being held at gunpoint by gang-bangers. Sounds like someone needs to roll Ms. Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) a big fatty. Returns to Showtime (www.sho.com) on August 13 at 9 p.m. — Preview: N.F.
We’re not sure how those Red Hot Chili Peppers boys feel about the obvious rip-off of their similarly titled 1999 album. But star David Duchovny (The X Files) says this Californication is “funny and kind of dark,” unlike his quirky turn with Brad Pitt in the dark and kind of funny Kalifornia (1993). Premieres August 13 at 9:30 p.m. on Showtime (www.sho.com). — Preview: N.F.
ALSO ON IFC
The Business follows the team at Vic’s Flicks — an unlikely indie film company — as they navigate the industry and manage their unexpected success. In the second episode of the season, a couple of characters (including Wendell, the character played by Neil Napier, pictured) are found out to be gay.
The Minor Accomplishments of Jackie Woodman follows two 30-something women (Laura Kightlinger and Nicholle Tom), whose willful ignorance, fleeting confidence, poor judgment, and self-loathing constantly get in the way of their success. In the first episode, they pretend to be lesbians and, needless to say, it doesn’t end well. Openly gay Patrick Bristow (remember him as a friend of Ellen on Ellen?) co-stars as Kightlinger’s gay assistant.
Both Business and Minor premiere on IFC (www.ifc.com) on August 5 (at 10 and 10:30 p.m. respectively), with repeats throughout the month. — Previews: Suzie Lynde