Odds: Wednesday – “Cache” fallout and art equalling life.

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Oh, Gerard Butler.
At the LA Times, Robert W. Welkos notes that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has updated its Oscar rules again:

In one change, entries in the best foreign-language category will no longer have to be in an official language of the country submitting the film. So long as the dominant language is not English, the academy noted, a picture from any country may be in any language or combination of languages.

This is a direct response to Saverio Costanzo‘s "Private," last year’s Italian Oscar submission, which was disqualified because it’s primarily in Arabic, but for most people the change will call to mind Michael Haneke‘s superb "Caché," which Austria was unable to submit for Oscar consideration because the film is in French.

We’d always imagined that Johnny Depp‘s declaration that his Jack Sparrow was modeled after Keith Richards was a claim he manufactured on the spur of the moment to entertain himself on the publicity circuit, but see what’s come of it: Richards has actually signed on to play Sparrow’s father in the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" film (via AP).

Via Chosun Ilbo: Park Chan-wook has been asked to sit on the jury of the 63rd Venice Film Festival.

Via BBC, Chinese censors have banned breakout Korean hit "The King and the Clown" due to the film’s gay subtext and sexually explicit language. Nothing unexpected (homosexuality is considered a mental disorder in China) but interesting in that, as Filmbrain points out in his recent review of the film, "it calls to mind ‘Farewell My Concubine,’ a film ‘King and the Clown’ definitely owes a debt to."

In the New York Times, Charles McGrath has a great piece on the many "Beowulf"s of stage and screen, including Sturla Gunnarsson‘s version, which opens in New York this Friday:

It’s tempting to say that every age gets the "Beowulf" it deserves, or one that suggests what’s most on people’s minds: the kooky sci-fi version; the brooding, existential one; the sensitive anti-epic. What the original audience for "Beowulf" had on its mind was terror. They listened to the poem in circumstances much like the ones it describes, huddled together around a fire and fretting about what lurked outside in the darkness, and they knew something that some of the modern adapters may have lost sight of: that in the right circumstances it’s extremely pleasant to be scared out of your wits.

John Horn at the LA Times writes about how the filmmakers behind festival favorite "Quinceañera" worked for years in the porn industry first. (We had to rewrite that sentence three or four times to remove unintentional double entendres.) Fascinatingly, one of the films is a gay porn spoof of "The Ring" entitled "The Hole": "Before you’re gay…you see the hole." Horn outlines how it’s no longer a career kiss of death to have worked on porn:

"There is this presumption that people who work in porn somehow aren’t of very high quality," [Wash] Westmoreland says. "That if you’re an editor in porn, you’re not a good editor. That if you’re a porn cinematographer, you’re not any good. But nothing could be further from the truth."

In the Japan Times, Mark Schilling reviews Masahiro Kobayashi‘s 2005 Cannes contender "Bashing," "a sparely told, emotionally walloping film suggested by the real-life experiences of a Japanese woman who was on a self-styled volunteer mission in Iraq when she was captured by insurgents, held hostage and finally released unharmed. Back home, she was widely criticized by the media and public for going to Iraq in the first place, as well as for causing trouble for her rescuers and embarrassment for the nation."

Akash Arora at The Australian argues that Indian films have been unfairly and broadly categorized as prim affairs:

It’s widely, and wrongly, believed in the West that Indian movies are no-skin, no-sex affairs. And those who have brought Bollywood films to the West, instead of challenging and changing that image, have consistently fueled it.

"It’s what I call cultural pigeonholing, sticking to cliches to please the crowds," says Sydney-based Indian film-maker Anupam Sharma. "The West has a set image of India, which may not be entirely in sync with reality. Yet most forms of Indian arts and culture that are seen in the West seem to feed this (not so accurate) image rather than challenge it."

Last year, for instance, "Bend it Like Beckham" director Gurinder Chadha brought "Bride & Prejudice" to Australia with all the Bollywood bells and whistles. She was widely quoted as saying: "There’s no kissing in Indian movies."

"Which is all crap because Indian films had kissing scenes even in the silent-movie era," says Sharma, who is also the head of the Australia-India Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment Council.

At That Little Round-Headed Boy, there’s a splendid post about "The 25 tunes I discovered at the movies":

We’ve all had this happen: We’re watching a movie and this transcendent song comes spilling out, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s part of the texture of the film or just accompanying the closing credits. We love the song. We must have the song. The song will always bring back a sensory flashback to the movie, even if it’s the only thing we can remember about the movie.

We may have rushed out to purchase the soundtrack of Cuarón‘s "Great Expections" for that stupid "Life in Mono" song once upon a time. TLRHB’s list is significantly less fleeting.

Finally, on the occasion of its tenth birthday, Ain’t It Cool News asks its contributors "Imagine you’re trying to explain America to someone. What ten films would you show them, and why?"

+ Oscar rules altered for foreign films (LA Times)
+ Keith Richards to be in ‘Pirates’ movie (AP)
+ Park Chan-wook Asked to Sit on Venice Jury (Chosun Ilbo)
+ China bans film over gay themes (BBC)
+ Tears of a Clown (Like Anna Karina’s Sweater)
+ Politically Aware ‘Beowulfs’ Miss an Ancient Delight: Terror (NY Times)
+ The XXX factor (LA Times)
+ Campaign of hate (Japan Times)
+ No sex please, we’re Indian (The Australian)
+ Lights, camera, songs! The 25 tunes I discovered at the movies (That Little Round-Headed Boy)
+ AICN’s 10th Anniversary Article! AICN Picks The Greatest Films About America!! (AICN)


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.