DID YOU READ

Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.

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"It gets better with each bite."
A few days after Steve Chagollan‘s New York Times story on how an upcoming "wave of ambitious studio films will try to capitalize on Americans’ growing appreciation for all things epicurean," Mick Hume in the London Times writes practically the same article. Official, then: it’s a trend! Among the upcoming foodie films cited by one or both of the writers are Linklater‘s "Fast Food Nation," Russell Crowe as vineyard-inheritor drama "A Good Year," a Catherine Zeta-Jones as dictatorial chef German film ("Mostly Martha") remake, and Peter Chelsom’s Cyrano de Bergerac re-imagining "The Food of Love."

Chagollan writes that:

With more and more 20somethings trading in beer mugs for stemware, farmers markets bursting at the seams and Wal-Marts stocking organic produce, America clearly is in the midst of a feeding frenzy, particularly among the growing legions of foodies and gourmands. The Food Network holds 65 million monthly viewers in its thrall, and sales of "gourmet" foods and beverages are expected to top $53 billion next year.

To some extent these developments may reflect a search for refuge. "Food is that thing that people retreat to for comfort and safety," said Lisa Shotland, an agent in the Creative Artists Agency’s lifestyle group, "and in these uncertain times that just becomes more and more the norm."

Hume responds:

But if insecure middle-class Americans are seeking refuge in the comfort food of their organic and rural dreams, one of the things they are running away from is the stuff that other Americans eat. Fear of food — specifically fast and processed food — is the theme of "Fast Food Nation," following on from Morgan Spurlock’s smash hit "Super Size Me," in which he demonstrated that eating nothing but McDonald’s for a month can make you ill (perhaps somebody should make a movie demonstrating that the same would be true if you stuck to just the foie gras and fine cheese).

So the celebration of the food of love among Hollywood’s new epicureans goes alongside fear of fatty, sugary "common" food, and disgust at those who consume it. We await the reappearance of Mr Creosote, the dinner-suited glutton who stuffs himself on rich delicacies until he explodes, in Monty Python’s "The Meaning of Life" — only this time recast as trailer-park Mctrash in sweatpants and a baseball cap, blowing himself up on cheeseburgers and fries.

The problem with making a mainstream food movie is that you must surpass the often insurpassable issue of making it convincing that a famous person still has the ability to enjoy food — filming Catherine Zeta Jones savoring some osso bucco, for instance, while dispelling any suspicions we may have that as soon as the cameras stop rolling she spits that mouthful of veal out and retreats to her daily rationing of Kashi GoLean.

Despite all of the lush and lovely food scenes that have turned up in films over the years, the ones that come immediately to mind for us are all grotesque. Having given it no thought, we’d throw out the following as memorable, if utterly unappetizing:

Sissy Spacek, attacked by a jar of shrimp cocktail in "3 Women."

Renée Zellweger, shaving mold of a piece of cheese and eating the remains in a fit of depression in that guilty pleasure, "Bridget Jones’s Diary."

The spaghetti in "Seven."

Jude Law‘s compulsive slurping down of a plate of mutant animals in "eXistenZ."

Ally Sheedy‘s cereal sandwich in "The Breakfast Club."

But the most memorable of all doesn’t really involve food, per se — in Les Blank‘s short doc "Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe," Herzog fulfills a bet he made with Errol Morris by consuming his footwear (with garlic, onions, and hot sauce) while monologuing about film in from of a live audience. "Our civilization does not have adequate images," he muses, and cuts into his shoe with a pair of scissors for easier mastication.

+ Eat Drink Make Movie: Hollywood’s Next Course (NY Times)
+ Meals on reels (London 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.