DID YOU READ

Legalities.

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At least you can buy the t-shirt.
The Guardian reports that US courts have ruled against companies that edit films for language, sex and violence, e.g. CleanFlicks, CleanFilms, Play It Clean Video and Family Flix USA:

[CleanFlicks] claims it should have the legal right to do so because it purchases one copy of a DVD for every edited movie it produces, and includes the original version with the new version when mailing packages to customers. David Schachter, attorney for CleanFlicks of Colorado, said yesterday that his client was unlikely to seek a stay on the injunction, but that it did not preclude others from choosing to do so. A posting on Family Flix’s website reported that the company had decided to close its doors after five years as a result of the ruling. The company would routinely edit content for homosexuality, "perversion" and cohabitation – its version of "Brokeback Mountain" must have been a sight to see.

And the inevitable little dig at the end, you saucy UK press corps, you! Sigh. We had skimmed over this story as it developed before, but had no real conception of how wacky this business model is — as if purchasing a copy of the film each time would placate lawsuit-happy and copyright hypersensitive Hollywood on either economic or artistic grounds.

Over at the LA Times, Henry Weinstein writes that Cyrus Kar, the Iranian-born American who was arrested in Baghdad for suspected terrorist activities while attempting to film a documentary about Cyrus the Great and held without being charged  for almost two months, is suing Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and "other high-ranking military officials…alleging that his detention violated his civil rights, the law of nations and the Geneva Convention."

Mark D. Rosenbaum, legal director of the ACLU of Southern California, said the suit is the first civil action challenging the constitutionality of the U.S. government’s detention and hearing policies in Iraq.

Dennis Lim at the New York Times describes how Amir Muhammad‘s "The Last Communist," a "semi-musical documentary road movie" about Chin Peng, the one-time leader of the Malayan Communist Party , became "the first Malaysian film to be banned at home."

On May 5 the Home Affairs Ministry, which oversees the censorship board, retracted its approval, citing public protest. The ban set off a flood of media commentary, much of it questioning the ministry’s decision. After a screening was held for Malaysian members of Parliament, the home minister, Radzi Sheikh Ahmad, said the real problem was that the absence of violence in the documentary could create the misconception that Chin Peng was not himself violent. "It will be like allowing a film portraying Osama bin Laden as a humble and charitable man to be screened in the United States," Mr. Radzi told a local newspaper.

Mr. Amir said, "I think this is the first time a film has been banned for not being violent enough."

Amir has a blog here. Also, Malaysia is infamously arbitrary in banning films — as Lim notes in the article, "Daredevil" was banned because the government was concerned that the country’s youth would idolize a character with a Satanic moniker.

And at the Independent, Geoffrey Macnab has an interesting piece on how Tennessee Williams‘ work has only once been satisfyingly adapted for the screen, partially because his stories were often neutered to please Hollywood’s (self)-censors.

There are many instances in which Hollywood simply cut out elements in his plays that seemed too risqué. Most notoriously, Richard Brooks‘ 1958 adaptation of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" somehow contrived to overlook the central fact of its hero’s homosexuality. Brooks’ later film of Williams’ "Sweet Bird of Youth" (1962) was almost equally evasive, sparing the audience the horror of its hero’s castration. Instead, Paul Newman‘s handsome gigolo, Chance, has his face ripped open by Boss Finley’s son and his thugs. ("Just gonna take away lover boy’s meal ticket," says Rip Torn, as he begins to disfigure Newman.)

+ The filth stays in the picture, judge rules (Guardian)
+ Filmmaker Sues U.S. Over Iraq Detention (LA Times)
+ Your Film Is Banned. There’s Not Enough Violence. (NY Times)
+ A Streetcar Named Desire: Too hot to handle (Independent)

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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.