DID YOU READ

Odds: Friday – Hasty weekend edition.

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"Because life is the way we audition for God; / Let us pray that we all get the job."We scored an 8/10 on the Guardian‘s remakes quiz — if you did better, don’t let us know.

Both J. Hoberman in the Village Voice and Caryn James in the New York Times look back on the complicated four-film span of Elaine May‘s directorial career (which infamously ended with "Ishtar" in 1987) on the occasion of the Film Society at Lincoln Center’s "Focus On Elaine May" retrospective. Hoberman:

Elaine May is…a director who—film for film—has to be considered alongside her more prolific peers Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. Or maybe, given the brazen auteurism of her movies, alongside somewhat younger representatives of the (old) New Hollywood like Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma. But really, May is sui generis: the only major Hollywood director of the much mythologized ’70s who happened to be female.

James apparently would disagree:

It would be hard to find four works less like one another than the sparkling comedy "A New Leaf" (1971), the gritty and dark "Mikey and Nicky," the crowd-pleasing "Heartbreak Kid" (1972) and the crowd-dispersing "Ishtar." She does not have, and hasn’t gone for, the instantly recognizable style that a director like Woody Allen has. And while she may not be a natural filmmaker, she is a natural artist who collided with the financial realities of Hollywood, as her rampant perfectionism often led to budget overruns, feuds with the studios and lawsuits that flew both ways.

Ella Taylor has a great essay on families in film and on TV in LA Weekly:

Coming from a family that kept such a tight lid on its emotions, I’ve
always had a soft spot for that maligned and neglected form, the
melodrama. Watching old movies on television when I was a teenager, I
throbbed with schadenfreude as the rich clans in Orson Welles’ "The
Magnificent Ambersons"
and "Citizen Kane" went down in flames of jealousy
and bile. With my mother, I guzzled 1940s maternal melodramas on TV,
glancing cagily sideways at her as Claude Rains’ psychiatrist counseled
Bette Davis’ helpless Charlotte in "Now, Voyager" to "Stick to your guns
without firing" when her demanding mater (a virago who made my own
strong-minded mum look like Mrs. Miniver) threatened to overwhelm her.
I thrilled to Charlotte’s liaison with married Paul Henreid and her
stealthy nurturing of his child, and fantasized myself as both mother
and daughter in some similarly boho domestic arrangement. In the 1970s,
when American movies were dominated by paranoid political thrillers, I
was wondrously creeped out by the insidious clans in "The Godfather"
Parts I and II, with their taciturn patriarchs and sidelined
matriarchs, their bursts of futile resentment and rebellion. Melodrama,
a form too lush and intense for our low-key, therapeutic age and yet
peculiarly suited to the emotive mess that is family life today, is
long overdue for a splashy comeback, and I had high hopes for a rebirth
when Todd Haynes’ wonderfully florid Douglas Sirk homage, "Far From
Heaven"
(2002), tore down the 1950s suburban family from its pedestal
and recast it as a viper’s nest riddled with mendacity and
self-deception. No one (unless you count Andrew Jarecki‘s "Capturing the
Friedmans,"
a tale of one family’s sexual malignancy all the more
powerful for being a documentary) followed up, though, and it may be a
sign of our evasive times, and the poverty of genre cinema, that the
nearest thing I’ve seen to a powerful melodrama that addresses the way
the secrets and lies of family life bubble up, unbidden, at the worst
possible moments, even in the most silent and laconic of families, is
last year’s "Junebug" — a comedy.

Speaking of, at Film Stew, Brett Buckalew discusses how Amy Adams‘ performance in "Junebug" and Catherine Keener‘s in "Capote" (both are up for Best Supporting Actress) restore depth and dignity to the often-not character of Southern women on film.

Quote to dwell on for the closing ceremonies, from Seth Stevenson last week at Slate:

When I hear about skiing over "moguls," I half expect the competitors to be racing not over artificial snow mounds but rather over the supine torsos of Ron Perelman and Harvey Weinstein. I picture the well-fed executives compressed farther down into the snow as each racer slides his ski-tips up and across their bespoke-suited midsections. By midway through the event, a small trail of blood runs down the slope from Weinstein’s abdomen. Stray Italian dogs enter the course and lap at the red-tinged ice as the film exec moans in agony.

+ The (original) remakes quiz (Guardian)
+ May Days (Village Voice)
+ The Fireworks of Elaine May (NY Times)
+ Family Viewing (LA Weekly)
+ Southern Womanhood (Film Stew)
+ How To Watch the Winter Olympics (Slate)

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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.