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A. O. Scott weighs in again on the box office slump by way of Spielberg and Lucas, who essentially invented the idea of the summer blockbuster, and where we, and they, are now, thirty years out. He makes some particularly good points about the sea change in how movies are rolled out these days:

"Jaws," released in June of 1975 and set during the Fourth of July
weekend, was still in theaters when the bicentennial year began…This kind of longevity is unthinkable
nowadays, for a number of reasons. Repeated viewing of the kind that
made "Star Wars" and "Jaws" such phenomena is now enabled by, and
reserved for, home viewing, which did not come into its own until the
early 1980’s. The release schedule is much more crowded than it was
then, and the window between the theatrical and DVD release is now
shorter than a successful first run used to be. Even the term "first
run" has a ring of almost vaudevillian antiquity. There is now a
pre-release sprint that leaves audiences (and journalists and
publicists) winded by opening day. Three weeks later, the picture is a
fading memory. Here I am still going on about "War of the Worlds,"
which is so last week. "Revenge of the Sith"? Who even remembers?

Anne Thompson at the Hollywood Reporter writes that 2004 could well go down in history as the high water mark reached by the box office, as the market’s reached a downturn that’s not actually due to poor quality (because really, this year’s films haven’t been worse on average than any other), but due to the fact that people just don’t care to see movies in theaters anymore, combined with a flood of multimedia competition. On that note, Josh Grossberg at E! Online wonders if this Saturday’s shelf date for "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince" will impact Friday’s release of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," and who would have thought a studio would be afraid that kids would rather stay home reading? Seth Schiesel in the New York Times reports on Electronic Arts’ upcoming video game based on "The Godfather," which is attempting to offer an ambitious amount of narrative freedom to the player.

Over at the LA Times, Patrick Goldstein bemoans the slow creep of now inescapable ads into the theater-going experience, detailing how Disney is, surprisingly, the one studio to take a stand, refusing to allow ads in front of its Disney-brand movies.

Some things have changed for the better. In the New York Times, Ta-Nehisi Coates salutes the rise of the "major league director who only happens to be black," with Tim Story‘s "Fantastic Four" pulling in over $50 million last weekend. Coates presents Story’s success, and the upcoming "Hustle & Flow," as signs that movies are moving away from the tendency to be polarized along racial lines. And at the Boston Globe, Wesley Morris takes a layered look at the subculture doc, outlining the "major paradigm shift in American popular culture" between 1990’s "Paris is Burning" and this year’s "Rize."

+ The Boys of Summer, 30 Years Later (NY Times)
+ Old rules don’t apply in modern boxoffice times (HR)
+ When "Harry" Met "Charlie" (E! Online)
+ How to Be Your Own Godfather (NY Times)
+ Now playing: A glut of ads (LA Times)
+ The Color of Money: No Longer Black and White (NY Times)
+ Going mainstream (Boston Globe)


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…


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. 


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


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.


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.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



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.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.