DID YOU READ

Much ado about not that much.

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Aimee Mullins and Matthew Barney.A bit of a slow news day today, which gives us the opportunity to look at two rather lengthy and literary musings on sets of films one normally wouldn’t bother with.

Devin McKinney has got this week’s big essay at the Village Voice, and he writes about how "Flightplan" is the latest narrative to make use of the reoccurring urban legend of the Vanishing Lady, in which two family members/loved ones are away from home, one vanishes, and everyone denies being aware of the missing person’s existence when the other searches for him/her.

"Flightplan"’s renewal of the legend may resonate with humanity’s recent losses to terror attack and natural disaster—just as the story’s popularity throughout the 1920s may have been a specter of the Great War and the influenza epidemic of 1918. These too have been years of wholesale loss and sudden, inexplicable grief for millions.

"There must be more than that . . . there must be an explanation." In popular fiction, always; in life, almost never. It may be that, in its eternal return, the Vanishing Lady is a myth not of resurrection but of loss repeated through infinity. It’s true that the Lady, whatever shape or sex she assumes, is always found at the end of the story. It’s also true that she is always, come the next telling, lost again.

Over at Slate, Aidan Wasley makes his case for the "Star Wars" trilogies adding up to "the greatest postmodern art film ever." Check this:

"Star Wars," at its secret, spiky intellectual heart, has more in common with films like Peter Greenaway‘s "Prospero’s Books" or even Matthew Barney‘s "The Cremaster Cycle" than with the countless cartoon blockbusters it spawned. Greenaway and Barney take the construction of their own work as a principal artistic subject, and Lucas does, too. "This poem is concerned with language on a very plain level," one of John Ashbery’s works begins. "Star Wars," we might say, is concerned with plot on a very plain level. Everything about the films, from the opening text crawls to the out-of-order production of the two trilogies, foregrounds the question of plot. As an audience, we grapple with not just the intricate clockwork of a complex and interwoven narrative, but, in postmodern fashion, with the fundamental mechanics of storytelling itself.

We’re not convinced, but it’s kind of a great read.

Over at the LA Times, Robert W. Welkos reports on a ridiculous tiff going on between two indies with the same title. Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou‘s "Take Out" is a gritty drama about an illegal Chinese immigrant trying to pay off his debts working as a restaurant delivery boy — it’s done well in the festivals and managed to get picked up by CAVU Pictures, a small distributor. Seth Landau‘s "Take Out" is a comedy about a man trying to rid the nation of chain restaurants. And thus begins the battle of the $3000 and the $13,000 film, which, one would imagine, is rather like two starving people having a food fight. (No) money quote:

And while Landau’s backers complain about NYU film grads with "high priced" lawyers writing cease-and-desist letters, [CAVU’s Michael] Sergio and [Isil] Bagdadi point out that the lawyer who wrote the letter in question is Stephen Baker of the law firm Baker and Rannells, P.A., who also happens to be the co-director’s dad.

And over at the New York Times, Sharon Waxman talks to Peter Lalonde, the producer of "Left Behind: World at War,"  which, as the Washington Post reported two weeks ago, was released by Sony Pictures Entertainment exclusively in churches across the country. Waxman’s angle is that Sony, who attached a $1.2 million marketing budget to the film, has been uncomfortable and thus hesitant to push a Christian film, a theory that so enrages Movie City NewsDavid Poland that he’s penned a furious screed in response.


+ Fright Plan
(Village Voice)
+ Star Wars: Episodes I-VI (Slate)
+ ‘Take Out’ for party of two (LA Times)
+ Sony Effort to Reach Christians Is Disputed (NY Times)
+ What Is The Problem??? (The Hot Blog)

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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.