DID YOU READ

Looking back fondly on the days of antagonism.

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"Pink" is the new blech.
20th Century Fox decided against having press screenings for "The Pink Panther" before opening the film in the UK, probably because of the lousy reviews the film generated in the US. While this practice is nothing new here (first there’s the marketing blitz for the movie that’s clearly terrible, people are intrigued enough to give it a decent opening weekend, there’s severe drop-off next weekend due to word-of-mouth, but by that time the next big title is on its way, and all the while we hapless film dorks clutch our Jonathan Rosenbaum reviews and our eBayed Hou Hsiao Hsien DVDs and fume at our own economic insignificance), it’s enough of a rarity in Britain to prompt at least two "what’s it all about?" pieces. David Thomson at the Independent takes the high road, deriding the fact that newspaper rely on advertising:

The real relationship between the movies and the press consists of advertising and listings – and listings are a hard-core version of advertising. Film distributors have never understood why newspapers run reviews and ads. Isn’t it inconsistent? And they are right. For if the papers want to keep on getting movie advertising, they need to subscribe to the overall lie that the movies are worth seeing. In many markets, film critics with high standards have simply lost their jobs because they didn’t like enough pictures.

Philip French at the Observer sees the opposite problem — he claims that critics have no pull anymore, and that the big film studios could really care less about what they write, if they write anything.

Sadly perhaps, there is no longer any serious antagonism between critics, film distributors and moviemakers. Long gone are the days when film companies tried to silence Milton Shulman by withdrawing advertising from the Evening Standard. Or MGM told the BBC that E Arnot Robertson was unfit to review their films. She lost a libel action because the BBC didn’t stop employing her and the appeal court judges thought MGM might be justified in thinking her unqualified by reason of her professed elitism. Tony Richardson told critics in 1968 that if they wanted to review "The Charge of the Light Brigade" they’d have to queue in Leicester Square like everyone else, and we did.

We’re not sure how we feel about this increasing disregard for critics from the studios — we feel like we should get all huffy and "blah blah should have a right to review everything! blah blah criticism blah art blah," but honestly, the economic reasons for not offering "The Pink Panther" to the press make perfect sense: why spend several hundred thousand on advance screenings that will result in the film being shredded in every broadsheet in the country when you could spend that money on advertising to reach more people, many of whom aren’t rushing to read the reviews each week anyway. We’d rather see the papers retaliate by not giving the films any coverage — if they won’t let anyone comment on the quality of the film, for chrissakes, why bother running the same old interview with star Steve Martin when there are plenty of other, better films to bring attention to?

Addendum: We put a link to this below but didn’t get around to mentioning it: the LA TimesPatrick Goldstein writes about "slivercasting" and the fact that services like Netflix, through the ease of putting things in one’s queue on a whim (as opposed to specifically picking something up at a video store) and sending recommendations to friends, is doing wonders for getting indie films seen. Power to the people, yo.

+ Film Studies: Lights, camera, ads – and no room for the critics (Independent)
+ Who hid the Pink Panther? (Observer)
+ Netflix Levels the Movie Rental Field (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.