Oscars and BAFTAs and Bears

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Outstanding British Film of the Year?
Oh my.

Oscars: The highlight we’d pick from the deluge of Oscar features this weekend is unquestionably Jacques Steinberg‘s New York Times piece on the tough time Jon Stewart and his loyal band of writers should be having with Stewart’s Oscar-hosting gig — everyone gets their quip in.

Somehow, Mr. Stewart and his writers must be arch enough to bring along
the 1.4 million viewers who lap up "The Daily Show" each night on
Comedy Central, while being broad enough to win over perhaps 40 million
other people who typically watch the Oscars but may never have seen
"This Week in God," a sendup of religion that is a "Daily Show" staple.

"We’re hoping to disappoint fans of ‘The Daily Show’ and similarly
disappoint new fans who had no idea who Jon was," [Ben] Karlin, now
executive producer of both the Stewart and Colbert shows, said in an

Also in the New York Times, Terrence Rafferty praises Robert Altman while explaining why the honorary Oscar he’ll be getting this year will be his first.

A squib in the New York Post confirms that, rather than casting off lesser nominees to receive their awards in the aisles, producer Gil Cates will have nominees move up to specially reserved seats in the third and forth rows just before each award, a system not unlike the one implemented by Mrs. Langenberg at the piano recitals of our youth, except (probably) with fewer botched renditions of "The Entertainer."

At the LA TimesOscar Beat, Steve Pond takes a closer look at this year’s elusive nominated shorts: animation, live action, and documentary.

Xeni Jardin at Wired News reports on the Sci-Tech Awards, while Caryn James tackles the best foreign film nominees in a decent piece that doesn’t attempt, for once, any strained trend analysis beyond "In this year of politically themed best-picture contenders like ‘Munich’ and ‘Good Night, and Good Luck,’ the foreign films have a similar urgency." Maria Elena Fernandez at the LA Times chats up reality show producers for ideas on how to make the Oscar broadcast more interesting.

And Roger Ebert goes live with his Oscar predictions.


BAFTAs: British Academy Film Award winners are here. Meh. We don’t think "Brokeback Mountain" winning over "Crash" signifies anything — Haggis‘ film doesn’t have nearly the same critical following in the UK that it does here. And odd but satisfying to see "Wallace & Gromit: Curse Of The Were-Rabbit" be named Outstanding British Film of the Year over "A Cock and Bull Story" and "The Constant Gardener" — as if the award were a measure of a film’s sheer Britishness, and "Wallace & Gromit"’s Plasticine sweater vests and tea cozies carried the day over even period-perfect non-empire waist gowns. At the Guardian‘s Culture Vulture blog, Xan Brooks runs down the lessons he learned at the BAFTAs this year.

Bears: At the close of Berlin International Film Festival, the Golden Bear went to Jasmila Zbanic‘s "Grbavica" (Eugene Hernandez at indieWIRE has the complete list of award-winners), while over at Greencine Daily, David D’Arcy writes that:

Although it only won a second prize at the Berlinale, a Silver Bear for direction, Michael Winterbottom and Mat Whitecross‘s new film certainly won the exposure award. As soon as "The Road to Guantanamo" screened in the Competition, the film and its emphasis on the fact that some 500 prisoners are still held at Guantanamo without charges were all over the media.

BBC reports today "The Road to Guantanamo"’s actors were stopped and harassed at the Luton airport on their way back from the festival: "One of the actors, Rizwan Ahmed, said a police officer asked him if he intended to make any more ‘political’ films."

+ A First-Time Oscar Host in Search of That Fine Line (NY Times)
+ Robert Altman’s Long Goodbye (NY Times)
+ Spotlight on the shorts, part one: animation (LA Times)
+ Spotlight on the shorts, part two: live action (LA Times)
+ Spotlight on the shorts, part three: documentary (LA Times)
+ Gizmos Trump Gowns at Nerd Oscars (Wired News)
+ Five Oscar Nominees: Foreign, Not Alien (NY Times)
+ Let’s add some dirt to all the glitter (LA Times)
+ Ebert’s Oscar predictions (RogerEbert.com)
+ Reflections on the Baftas (Guardian)
+ "Grbavica" Wins Golden Bear At 2006 Berlinale (indieWIRE)
+ Berlin Dispatch. 12. (Greencine Daily)
+ Guantanamo actors held at airport (BBC)


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.