Oscars: Further “Crash” bashing, “Tsotsi”…poking?

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"You think you know who you are?" Mr. Reese Witherspoon, that's who.
There’s nothing left for us to say but: We wish we could quit "Crash."

As entertainment reporters feverishly twitch over their keyboards, critics slaughter their neighbors’ cats and study the entrails for further insights into the close races, and we near the end of the Oscar countdown, Cara Mia DiMassa at the LA Times is left to resort to talking to members of the non-film community about their opinions on Paul Haggis‘ front-runner:

Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton has seen the film three times, and encouraged the deputy chief in charge of LAPD’s professional standards to pass copies around the department. But Joe Hicks, the longtime African American community activist, believes the movie so distorts the state of race relations that it could hurt Los Angeles’ reputation.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa loved the movie. His lawyer, a former member of the county Human Relations Commission, hated it.

So basically, some people really like it, and others really don’t. For a more resolved take on the film, we recommend Matt Zoller Seitz‘s lengthy, smart piece on why "Crash" is hurting America:

Haggis’ depiction of modern race consciousness is so wrongheaded in so
many ways that the film’s critical and financial success might actually
inflict damage on the culture, by making apoplectic, paranoid racism
seem like the norm and encouraging audience members (particularly the
young) to think Haggis is tearing off society’s mask and showing how
things really are, all of which will allow those same ticket buyers to
feel superior to the people in the movie and think themselves incapable
of "real" racism, the type depicted in "Crash."

And in an interview with Dan Persons here at IFC News, Three 6 Mafia (of "It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp" — every time we read that title, we think of the Dave Chappelle "I Know Black People" skit ("Is pimping easy?"), which may sum up all of "Hustle & Flow"‘s buying into its own bullshit. Still, we hope the song wins — who wouldn’t?) reveal that they’re pulling for "Crash."

And "Tsotsi" is now bearing the burden of being the favorite to win Best Foreign Language Film despite no one thinking it’s that spectacular of a film. David Edelstein in discussion with Lynda Obst at New York:

I have this theory about what wins the foreign-film Academy Award most
years. You start with a movie that feels really alien—the average Oscar
voter says, "What is this? Where am I? I can’t handle this." And then
gradually, the recognizable Hollywood formula kicks in, so by the end
they’re saying, "Who’s the director’s agent?" "Tsotsi" is set in a South
African shantytown and opens with a horrifying murder. The main
character has a face that’s unreadable at first—hard and cold, yet with
a trace of androgyny that suggests something more complex and
unresolved. Well, he steals a car and ends up with a baby and finds the
meaning of Christmas, etc. At test screenings there were standing
ovations. Oscar bait doesn’t come any more tempting.

Rory Carroll at the Guardian oddly takes "Tsotsi"’s pivotal carjacking as an excuse to offer up a history of the crime in South Africa, and tips on what to do if your car is hijacked in South Africa. We like: "If about to be shot turn to the side, reducing the target you present by a third. Lift your shoulders and pull your neck in. Do not turn your back – the front of your body has more bone and rib-cage to protect your internal organs."

Andrew O’Hehir‘s rather cynical in his "Beyond the Multiplex" column for Salon this week, which tackles the neutering of the Foreign Language Film category and the lifelong boringness of the Documentary category before looking at this year’s nominees. He’s one of the few we’ve come across who thinks "Sophie Scholl" will win (he’s also going against the penguin to predict "Murderball" will pull through among the docs). O’Hehir also takes to task Emma Forrest‘s poorly reporter Observer article on the "Paradise Now" fuss (a story that, in general, we’ve found so infuriating we’ve basically chosen to just ignore it).

The Observer article, which helpfully never asks Abu-Assad or anyone else involved with "Paradise Now" about their intentions, goes on to say that the real problem with Saïd’s character is Nashef‘s "Hollywood looks," which create an atmosphere of "sexy jihad" around his attack. His friend Khaled (Ali Suliman) evidently refuses to commit mass murder because he’s insufficiently hot. "Paradise Now" has less chance than it ever did of winning an Oscar (and it never had much). But that article deserves an award for cultural journalism at its most distinctively odious, combining slipshod reporting with half-baked postmodern theorizing. Congratulations!

And at his New York Times Carpetbagger blog, Dave Carr, in a delirium of packing and Oscar fatigue, spews out all of his dislikes about Oscar coverage.

+ Differing Views of Race in L.A. Collide in ‘Crash’ (LA Times)
+ Anything but this (The House Next Door)
+ In the footsteps of "Shaft": Three 6 Mafia talks bringing the Memphis sound to the Oscars (IFC News)
+ The Pre-Show Game (New York)
+ Carjacking: the everyday ordeal testing South Africa (Guardian)
+ Beyond the Multiplex (Salon)
+ Rant, The Musical (NY Times)


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.