DID YOU READ

The New York Times Magazine goes to the movies, war.

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"Too much has happened. Someone's got to be hurt. The only question is who."Maybe it’s that we’ve never been big on the war movies, or maybe it’s just general malaise due to our having had to wrestle with the computer all day, but we’re at a big of a loss with what to say about the New York Times Magazine‘s Hollywood Goes to War! issue.

Or maybe that’s just because the issue itself is steeped in a sense of malaise. From Matt Bai‘s glum assessment of the fading power of Hollywood to Lynn Hirschberg‘s interview with the solidly practical Terry Press ("Today audiences want to be transported. But it’s tricky: audiences want
happy endings, but they won’t buy a fake happy ending. Audiences have
become cynical."), there’s a general sense of disillusionment — such are our times, we suppose. Honestly, what the hell is a modern war movie supposed to look like? "Jarhead"? As OIB Peter Sarsgaard puts it in Hirschberg‘s interview with him, "The fantasy of who a marine thinks he is is what I am interested in," which seems to be the recent, prevailing obsession we’re coming to grips with. It’s certainly never been a revelation that, in war and in all other things, self-image can be a striking contrast with reality, but, as Manohla Dargis points out in her essay, it’s the inherent paradox between our filmic portrayal of war and the often simplistic messaging behind it that we’ve yet to settle.

American movies give us the dangers of war, but only the cheaper ones ("Rambo," ad nauseam) readily admit to its pleasures. The problem for movies about Vietnam, like Oliver Stone‘s "Platoon" and Brian De Palma‘s "Casualties of War," is that movie violence is so irresistibly cinematic. These films try to draw a line between the soldier who kills because it’s his job and the soldier who kills because the war has brought out something wrong in his head, heart and soul, like the satisfaction of the kill. We are urged to love the warriors but not their war – and yet the truth is, we love the violence too. Steeped in pain, such films preach the horrors of combat even as the filmmaking solicits us to thrill to its spectacle; even the most heartfelt objection to war, it seems, is no match for a vicarious blast of napalm and a fountain of blood.

No such thing as an antiwar film indeed. We also feel we should point out Susan DominusHenry Rollins-on-USO-tour interview, because, you know. And it’s v. strange.

At the Guardian, John Patterson takes issue with "Jarhead" and its mash-up nature when it comes to the war films that predated it. A similar issue:

Judging by "Jarhead," the American war movie isn’t growing up much, but it is adapting to the times. Once upon a time, back in the Good War and after, it was John Wayne, lock-and-load, no doubts, no blood, and lashings of the Andrews Sisters. Then came Vietnam, fought on the myths those earlier movies promulgated, and everything went all "frag the lieutenant!", ears for souvenirs, the smell of napalm in the morning, and nothing but blood and doubt, all pumped up by Creedence and Stax. Everything was green and brown, an iconography of jungle and rice paddy, monsoon and mosquitoes. Of course, before Americans saw all this in the movies, they had to watch it on the news every night for a decade.

David Thomson at the Independent argues that there is an American war film of true complexity: Stanley Kubrick‘s "Paths of Glory."

In fact, I think even in 1957 and certainly now, there is an audacious
stylistic contrast between the wretched careerism of the officers and
the implacable panache of the way it is shot. This is a great work of
satire in which Kubrick’s camera is as chillingly controlled as the
prose style of Jonathan Swift.

+ The Movie Issue (NY Times Magazine)
+ Phoney war movie (Guardian)
+ Who doesn’t like a man in a uniform? Kubrick, for a start (Independent)

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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.