DID YOU READ

Odds: Monday – Drive into springtime.

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"Oh Moses, Moses, you stubborn, splendid, adorable fool!"Ah, reduced to Steely Dan choruses for headlines. We must need a nap. Or a bourbon.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle has a great piece on the enduring, indefinable pleasures of DeMille‘s "The Ten Commandments."

So what’s with this movie, which has lasted 50 years? Is it camp? Is it
classic? Is it both? Is it inspired? Is it ridiculous? It was loved in
its day, and it has been loved ever since, but for its true qualities
or for the initial spell it cast? Watching isolated moments can provide
no insight into these questions, because "The Ten Commandments" is like
an opera. It exists in a heightened universe that must be entered
gradually and experienced as it unfolds. Thus, there’s no way around
it: In order to give this movie its due, it must be watched, all 220
minutes of it, though it’s OK to fast-forward through the intermission
and entr’acte music.

Paige Newman at MSNBC seems to be fastest on the draw with a Spring Movie Guide…though given this swollen summer of blockbusters that edges up into May and through September, we’re probably going to restrain ourself to picks and previews from that season at IFC News.

Via BBC, "Film-makers Steven Spielberg and Zhang Yimou are to join the team designing the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Zhang will lead the team, largely comprised of other Chinese impresarios, while Spielberg will be a consultant." Feh. We got nothin’, folks.

At his blog The House Next Door, Matt Zoller Seitz has an expanded version of the article on Malick‘s "Days of Heaven" and "The New World" that ran in the NY Press:

The filmmaker’s aesthetic is a rebuke to commercial filmmaking conventions that were practically set in stone from the early days of sound. Malick’s goal is to deny us the usual anchor points, to make the experience of watching his films as much a blur of emotion as our own memories or dreams, and to suggest that the world is not really driven by individual will, as both drama and Western social myths suggest; that we may be less actors than acted-upon; that instead of individuals driving a narrative, perhaps narrative (a story in fiction, or historical events in the real world) drives individuals. Malick’s filmmaking turns this philosophy into rhapsody.

In the New Yorker, David Remnick shills for "An Inconvenient Truth."

"An Inconvenient Truth" is not likely to displace the boffo numbers of "Ice Age" in Variety‘s weekly grosses. It is, to be perfectly honest (and there is no way of getting around this), a documentary film about a possibly retired politician giving a slide show about the dangers of melting ice sheets and rising sea levels. It has a few lapses of mise en scène. Sometimes we see [Al] Gore gravely talking on his cell phone—or gravely staring out an airplane window, or gravely tapping away on his laptop in a lonely hotel room—for a little longer than is absolutely necessary. And yet, as a means of education, "An Inconvenient Truth" is a brilliantly lucid, often riveting attempt to warn Americans off our hellbent path to global suicide. "An Inconvenient Truth" is not the most entertaining film of the year. But it might be the most important.

In The Age, Melinda Houston talks to the stars of Aussie WWII drama "Kokoda," "‘Gallipoli’ for the Y generation."

"Are we looking for ourselves?" he says. "For a national identity? We don’t have a battle for independence or a Trafalgar. So to some extent ‘Kokoda’ serves that purpose. And if ‘Gallipoli’ was about the birth of an Australian identity, ‘Kokoda’ is its adolescence."

And in the LA Times, Bruce Wallace writes about the first conference on Charlie Chaplin in Japan, which took place last month, Chaplin’s continuing popularity in the country ("Ono also argues it was Chaplin’s melancholy that appealed to the
Japanese. ‘They would say: ‘Don’t you hear the sad song coming from his
soul?’ ‘ ") and the renewed interest in the intriguing life of Chaplin’s longtime assistant Toraichi Kono.


+ ‘Ten Commandments’ at 50 — brilliant, inept and baffling
(SF Chronicle)
+ Able to leap buildings in a single bound (MSNBC)
+ Spielberg and Yimou join Olympics (BBC)
+ Player piano (The House Next Door)
+ OZONE MAN (New Yorker)
+ A return to arms (The Age)
+ Mr. Kono and the Tramp (LA Times)

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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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.