DID YOU READ

In print.

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"Nicole understood the part at a low frequency. At base level."
Critic David Thomson‘s decision to write a biography/analysis/meditation on Nicole Kidman seems both odd and rather ballsy, given that his previous biographies were of Orson Welles and David O. Selznick, both comfortably canonical and dead. Kidman is very much alive, and proving it by complaining in news outlets (like the Daily Mail) that Thomson only interviewed her once and neglected to inform her that the exchange was for a book he happened to be writing about her:

According to the star’s publicist Wendy Day: "Nicole has never met David Thomson. She has only spoken to him briefly on the phone about her acting processes and various films.

"He’s a well-respected film writer and she accepted the interview only because she was under the impression he was writing a series of film essays."

We’re sure Kidman would never have shared all those filthy anecdotes had she known they were destined for use in a book instead of a film essay series. The London Times has a Tom-centric extract from the straightforwardly named "Nicole Kidman" here. In another piece in the paper, Thomson defends his choice of topic:

I don’t say she’s the greatest actress ever, or even the best of her time — though I think she is the bravest, the most adventurous and the most varied of her age. Just remember these: Moulin Rouge!, Birthday Girl, The Others, The Hours, Dogville — that great run. And Birth, which was released two years ago. I know, many of you may say: Birth? What was that? I never saw it. I had better seek it out. Yes, you should, because it is her best, and she knows it went unseen, and forgotten. In Birth, and in a few others, she finds a shining, profound intimacy. But it was a commercial disaster.

We’re generally pretty indifferent to Kidman as an actress, but we’ve got to hand it to Thomson — it’s one thing to write about Welles, and quite another to go to bat for "Birth." Over at the New York Observer, Scott Eyman notes

Mr. Thomson has always put himself out there—he’s one of the rare writers who view criticism as an art form in its own right, and every artist has to reserve the right to fall on his face. In this particular book, there’s a dream sequence set in a Parisian bordello that verges on the embarrassing, and there are occasional sentences that could have been lifted directly from Photoplay magazine circa 1938: “It is Nicole’s nature to be sturdy, cheerful, robust, a real person, full of common sense.” At these times, the book is simply what my grandfather used to call a “mash note.”

Elsewhere, the new issue of Film Comment has an article from Paul Schrader that is "one of the longest published in Film Comment history" — the topic is no less than what makes a film worthy of being considered canonical, and the preface (entitled "The Book I Didn’t Write") and introduction are online here.

In March 2003 I was having dinner in London with Faber and Faber’s editor of film books, Walter Donohue, and several others when the conversation turned to the current state of film criticism and lack of knowledge of film history in general. I remarked on a former assistant who, when told to look up Montgomery Clift, returned some minutes later asking, “Where is that?” I replied that I thought it was in the Hollywood Hills, and he returned to his search engine.

Yes, we agreed, there are too many films, too much history, for today’s student to master. “Someone should write a film version of Harold Bloom’s The Western Canon,” a writer from The Independent suggested, and “the person who should write it,” he said, looking at me, “is you.” I looked to Walter, who replied, “If you write it, I’ll publish it.” And the die was cast.

And, via the always reliably trashy WENN, this tidbit from John Leguizamo‘s upcoming autobiography "Pimps, Hos, Playa Hatas, And All The Rest Of My Hollywood Friends," on the filming of "Carlito’s Way":

"You really have to know Penelope Ann Miller to dislike her. She’s the kind of girl who would flirt with anyone in the world as long as people are watching." Leguizamo and the wardrobe department decided to get even with Miller – by taking in her clothes an inch at a time. He writes, "Every day her outfits are getting a little tighter, a little tighter. She goes on a starvation diet. Watch the movie, you’ll see she gets thinner and thinner."

Lovely, John, lovely.

+ Kidman outraged at new love revelations (Daily Mail)
+ Kidman: the best actress of her time? (London Times)
+ Nicole uncovered (London Times)
+ A Great Critic’s Mash Note: Nicole Kidman Is To Die For (NY Observer)
+ PREFACE: The Book I Didn’t Write (Film Comment)
+ Leguizamo Slams Flirtatious Miller (WENN)

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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.