DID YOU READ

Don’t look back (you can never look back).

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"I guess if it wasn't for Sam, I'd have missed it, whatever it is."
So the bumper sticker says. And yet, in the LA Times, Peter Bogdanovich recalls and mourns the experience of going to a movie theater as if such structures were already long extinct.

Larry McMurtry‘s novel, "The Last Picture Show," and the movie version of it which I directed were both at least partly about the loss to a small Texas town of its single movie theater, a great diminishment in community and sharing. We all now live in a more insular, distanced society. And though our communication capability has never been faster or more inclusive, it does not have the ability to let us experience the silent interrelating that happens in a live theater, at church or at a movie house.

Over the years I’ve noticed that audiences, just before the show starts, radiate a kind of innocence. Considered person by person, that may not be the case, but as a group they share the ability to be taken wherever the film chooses to take them, either to the stars or the gutter, and their communal experience will alter them for better or worse. Let’s not let all that possibility fade away further than it already has.

James Parker at the Boston Globe muses that "We enjoy watching B-movies because life is a B-movie: life, with its ungroomed edges, its humdrum pauses, its inability to sustain an atmosphere or be wholly convinced by a plotline." He revisits the original "The Hills Have Eyes," and lists what the slickly made, pseudo-meaningful Alexandre Aja remake has lost.

At the Guardian‘s Culture Vulture blog, Xan Brooks takes umbrage with two other remakes, the Coen brothers"Ladykillers" and Neil LaBute‘s upcoming "The Wicker Man," for what he sees as lack of respect and understanding from the respective directors for the British originals:

[D]ismissing [1955’s] "The Ladykillers" as "genteel" totally misses the point of what a nasty, vicious and downright subversive animal it really is. Small wonder the Coen brothers remake was so bland and redundant (and yes, genteel). I’m betting the new, improved "Wicker Man" won’t be much cop either.

David Gritten at the Telegraph uses the occasion of "The White Countess"‘s UK release to look back at Merchant Ivory’s heyday, and outline how the company’s time has passed.

Film audiences have maintained their taste for costume drama, but not for the reticent manner in which Merchant Ivory presented it. Three films made in Britain, all adaptations of Jane Austen, hammered the point home. Roger Michell‘s "Persuasion," originally made for television, brought dirty realism and muddied hems to period pieces. Ang Lee‘s "Sense and Sensibility" located a strain of desperate emotion and gave it full expression. And last year Working Title infused "Pride and Prejudice" with a healthy dose of adolescent lust.

All three films work because they engage audiences on a visceral level. These days, all manner of films, struggling to compete in a crowded entertainment industry, aim to deliver a big-screen jolt unavailable from other media. "Hip", "dark" and "edgy" are the adjectives of choice among film marketing types – but Merchant Ivory are simply not in that business. Film culture has moved away from them: those who warmly embraced the pace and flow of the recent "Pride and Prejudice" would never sit still for their conventional and frankly uninvolving adaptation of Henry James’s "The Golden Bowl."

At the Independent, James Mottram, whose "The Sundance Kids: How The Mavericks Took Back Hollywood" comes out in May, casts an eye back on what is, give or take a director or two, David Gritten’s "Class of ’99," and declares it done — those wacky late 90s Sundance darlings have brought their "maverick sensibilities" to Hollywood, and now loom large and heedlessly hip over Tinseltown. It’s a sunshiny take that willfully ignores certain details, such as the fact that David Fincher hasn’t managed to squeeze a film out in four years. At the New York Daily News, meanwhile, Jack Mathews reexamines his prediction back in 1983 ("For a while, I was a sage.") that the animated film as a genre was on its way out. 23 years and billions of dollars later, he’s willing to admit he might have been a little hasty.

Finally, back at the LA Times, Mimi Avins on how Sharon Stone‘s "iconoclastic bitch-goddess" Catherine Tramell has held up (and changed) in the 14 years between "Basic Instinct" and "Basic Instinct 2."

In 1992, who’s on top, men or women, was still a question. In the "Basic Instinct" sequel, there’s no contest. Catherine today is a man-eating cartoon. She’s smarter and more dangerous than any man she encounters. And she definitely can’t be trusted. Although the script was written by a husband-and-wife team, the film has moved from a tale of masculine backlash to one of capitulation.

+ Moving pictures (LA Times)
+ Scare me once. Scare me twice. (Boston Globe)
+ Repeat offenders (Guardian)
+ Why we should love and leave the world of Merchant Ivory (Telegraph)
+ Maverick directors enjoy their day in the sun (Independent)
+ Back to the drawing board (NY Daily News)
+ Feminism after the fact (LA Times)

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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.