Whither that web?

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An "indie soap opera for the Web."
Richard Schickel seems to deliver compulsive little love taps to the film blogging world every time he’s given the opportunity to review the work of a print critic — his latest assault is tucked away in an LA Times review of the collected essays of Gary Giddins:

To write seriously about topics — movies, jazz, popular fiction — that many people regard as peripheral or totally irrelevant to their lives is among the least gratifying of occupations. That’s particularly true now, when the pendulum seems to be permanently stuck at the burbling end of the spectrum, where the bloggers — history-free and sensibility-deprived — weekly blurb the latest Hollywood effulgence and are rewarded by seeing their opinions bannered atop movie display ads in type sizes elsewhere reserved for the outbreak of wars and the demise of presidents.

Even in the dwindling realm where critics still attempt to make fine distinctions, there are problems, mostly of tone. For my sins, I enjoy the wise-guy riffs of Anthony Lane in the New Yorker, but I have to admit that his manner is not well-suited to the middle range, where many of the movies that are most interesting to write about uneasily reside. At the spectrum’s other end is Stanley Cavell — the professor Irwin Corey of film studies — who has never met a movie he cannot obfuscate with a viscous prose style that reaches ever higher levels of unintended risibility. Where, I’ve often wondered, is a critic who wears his erudition lightly, writes with an impeccable combination of verve and sobriety and, above all, makes you see (and hear) the objects of his ruminations? Is it possible to find such a critic whose medium is prose (always slow-footed in comparison, say, to a Bryan Singer movie) and topics evanescent: a perfect cut between scenes in a movie, for example, or a four-bar melodic fragment in an arrangement of Gil Evans’ song "La Nevada."

A fair enough wish — but why must it come with such a petty opening? Worse, it convinces us that Schickel has never actually read a blog; if he’s truly objecting to the blurbization of film reviews, his real enemy would be the economic and editorial forces in print media conspiring to make the capsule review the norm.

Whatever. While we’re on the topic of the web: John Clark at the New York Times writes about the realities of making the leap from having web-cred to having an actual studio deal:

Whether the Internet will ever become a seed bed for full-length movies remains to be seen. The independent filmmaker Joe Swanberg (“Kissing on the Mouth,” “LOL”), who was hired by Nervevideo.com to create what he describes as an “indie soap opera for the Web” called “Young American Bodies,” said the Net is the wrong place to watch a conventional narrative of conventional length.

“I have a hard time focusing on the computer screen for 90 minutes,” Mr. Swanberg, 25, said. “A feature film isn’t interactive. I think a theater is still the best venue for that.”

Very nice, Mr. Swanberg!

And some goodies new to the Internet of late:

Trailer for Ridley Scott‘s "A Good Year" on Yahoo, here: Strange to see a slimmed-down Russell Crowe looking bookish; his love interest is Marion Cotillard, who played the memorably sexy-crazy Sophie Kowalsky in "Love Me If You Dare."

Full trailer for "The Fountain" on Apple, here: Good lord, it’s looking even more of an ambitious, grandiose mess. We’re dying to see it.

Trailer for the new Brothers Quay film, "The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes," up here.

Trailer for Ryan Fleck‘s much-loved-at-Sundance "Half Nelson" here.

Teaser for John Cameron Mitchell‘s porn-is-art, art-is-porn, let’s all cry about it "Shortbus" here.

And, it’s doubtless been around a while, but is still worth a watch: A clever ad for Canal+ inspired by "March of the Penguins" (via YouTube, of course), here.

+ A master craftsman (LA Times)
+ Hollywood Clicks on the Work of Web Auteurs (NY Times)
+ Trailer: A Good Year (Yahoo)
+ Trailer: The Fountain (Apple)
+ Trailer: The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes (Zeitgeist Films)
+ Trailer: Half Nelson (Movies.com)
+ Trailer: Shortbus (iFilm)
+ March of the Penguins (YouTube)


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.