DID YOU READ

The Film Geek Achieves Nerd Nirvana at E3

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By Matt Singer

IFC News

Imagine Las Vegas, with the fairer half of the population replaced by dudes in Hawaiian shirts and beards, and you have a sense of the atmosphere at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, better known as E3. IFC sent my
lucky geek ass to cover the event, and in that
capacity, I had opportunity to speak with legions of
grateful (and bearded) nerds, all in attendance to pay homage at the shrine of all things Xbox and PlayStation. When asked to describe the event, their praise bordered on effusive, with a sort of glazed, contented look in their eyes one generally finds in a religious zealot who believes they’ve communed with God. “What, if anything, is E3 missing?” I would invariably ask. “More women,” they would invariably reply. What few women there were were of the paid-to-be-there variety.

That zombiefied look is everywhere at E3. You’ve
never seen so many nerds so happy. Essentially, two
massive buildings are transformed into the world’s
most well carpeted arcade for three straight days.
Everywhere you look there is some other video game
vying for your attention, calling out to you with
their addictive, neon siren song. E3’s masssive halls
have the power to turn a functioning adult human male
into a sensory overloaded puppy: eyes flashing, head
turned ever so slightly, brain overwhelmed by too much
stimuli.

To be fair, as someone who is, and always has been,
a casual gamer at best, I can’t deny the intense
coolness of E3. Here is a place where you wander
around, and play video games — games that would
typically set you back in excess of fifty bucks —
and then people give you free stuff to thank you for
playing their unreleased and totally badass video
games. Who wouldn’t want to spend three days
doing that?

You might wonder why IFC would send me to an event
exclusively devoted to video games, but a quick scan
of the list of the convention’s hottest titles reads
like a list of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster
filmmakers. In recent years you could count on the
year’s biggest movies receiving their own video game
adaptations: href=”http://www.activision.com/microsite/spider-man/”> color=000000>”Spider-Man 2″ and href=”http://www.ea.com/official/lordoftherings/thebattleformiddleearth/us/home.jsp”> color=000000>”The Lord of the Rings” both hit
theaters accompanied by well-designed video games.
The massive success of the most popular games (we’re
talking billions of dollars of massive success) has
encouraged filmmakers to dip their toes in the pool;
Peter Jackson, for instance, put his name above the
title of the recent href=”http://www.kingkonggame.com/us/”> color=000000>”King Kong” game.

The latest trend seems to be skipping the movie and

simply taking film talent and making a stand-alone

game. The best example of this phenomenon at E3 was

John Woo’s video-game-only sequel to his classic

“Hard-Boiled,” “Stranglehold”. Players take

control of Chow Yun Fat’s unstoppable cop Tequila, as

he takes down the bad guys with an assortment of moves

— balletic leaps and spins, double-handgun

assaults, special attacks replete with flying doves

— straight out of the John Woo playbook.

Creators of all these sorts of games said the same

thing: movies are wonderful, but they are, to their

core, a passive medium. Video games are interactive.

If the thrill of a movie like “Hard-Boiled” is

connected to our identification with its hero, then

what does it do to our brain to get to control

the hero? Before we interviewed the game’s creators I

got a chance to play a demo of the game, and if there

is a cooler video game experience, I have yet to see

it.

Clearly, the appeal of becoming your favorite movie

star is a major selling point for the industry. You

can become Al Pacino in a new game based on “Scarface”

(one which imagines what might have happened if Tony

Montana had survived the film’s final slaughter), or

play as Johnny Depp in “Pirates of the Caribbean” or

fly as Brandon Routh’s Superman in “Superman Returns:

The Video Game.” But if, as some video game creators

suggested, games could ultimately replace movies in

the hearts of Americans seeking entertainment, the

symbiotic relationship between the two is less

one-dimensional than some expressed. Basing your game

on a movie or movie stars (like the original property

“The Wheelman” starring Vin Diesel) gives you an

instant sales pitch, not to mention an air of artistic

legitimacy that numerous people I interviewed were

quick to play up. But if video games replace movies,

who will star in these video games and what will they

be based on?

Most at E3 weren’t particularly interested in

answering that question. They just wanted to play

some more, and hopefully get another free t-shirt.

Truth be told, in my weakest moments, I was one of them.

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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.