DID YOU READ

Bobcat Goldthwait on “Sleeping Dogs Lie”

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By Aaron Hillis

IFC News

[Photo: Samuel Goldwyn Films, 2006]

When you think of Bobcat Goldthwait, chances are what comes to mind is that anxiously pubescent growl he adopted for such ’80s-defining staples as “One Crazy Summer” and the “Police Academy” series, but that voice is a stigma he’d like to overcome. After starring alongside Dabney Coleman and a talking horse in “Hot to Trot,” an experience he says made him feel as powerless as a “cog in the machine,” he retaliated by making his first short film. In 1992, he made the directorial leap to features with his drunken-bozo extravaganza, “Shakes the Clown,” a hilariously irreverent cult classic that even Martin Scorsese has admitted he loves. Goldthwait’s latest effort as writer-director is “Sleeping Dogs Lie” (formerly titled “Stay” when it premiered at Sundance), which could almost be a mainstream rom-com if it weren’t for its premise… When a young woman (Melinda Page Hamilton) is egged on by her fiancé (Bryce Johnson) to reveal her darkest secret, their relationship is forever distorted after he learns that once, out of curiosity in college, she gave her dog a blowjob. More shocking is that the film is hardly a gross-out comedy, but a straight-faced exploration of honesty in relationships. I sat down with Goldthwait before the film’s release, half-expecting to hear that excitable voice, but was instead charmed by his soft-spoken, self-deprecating demeanor.

I thought the original title, “Stay,” had a far more poignant double-meaning.

I loved that title a lot more myself, actually. It was the decision of whomever owns the other “Stay,” the Marc Forster film, that won out. That’s the reality of it. You know, I bummed out a little bit over it, and then I realized that in making the movie, I didn’t really have any restrictions for good or bad. It’s what I had in mind, so if I had to compromise on one thing, at least I can live with that.

The film certainly has a homegrown, do-it-yourself spirit.

Yeah, it was real guerilla. We shot in 16 days and stole… uh, borrowed things from various productions. I always knew if we were going to make it, it was going to be a really tiny budget. Even in the indie world, if you have people giving you millions of dollars to make a movie, you have other people you need to listen to. And making a movie as small as I did, there were no notes. The thing that really exceeded my expectations was Melinda, who is such a great actress. If she wasn’t as strong as I believe she is in this, it would’ve been a whole different movie and really corny.

Everyone will probably focus on the bestiality, but there’s nothing really subversive beyond that. You’ve made a surprisingly sweet dramedy out of something entirely offensive.

Well, thanks. That was the experiment, the overall kind of big cosmic joke for me, if I could make a heartwarming dog-blowjob movie. It does have serious beats in it, and the upbeat ending is still kind of… well, I don’t want to ruin it. I remember when I was writing the [ending], it made me really happy. (laughs)

What ran through your mind when you chose this particular taboo? Like, why not incest?

The reason is because that involves other people. I wanted it to be something she did alone, that was really it. And it’s about a woman because it’s a fact that men are kind of disgusting. If it was a guy, people would go, “yeah, whatever.” You know what I mean?

Especially after the success of “Jackass: Number Two.” Much worse has hit multiplexes.

It’s funny that you bring that movie up, I know all those fellas. Sarah de Sa Rego produced our movie and did the costume design; everybody had nine jobs. But she just came back from traveling all around with those guys, doing the costumes and things on “Jackass 2.” PJ… uh, Johnny Knoxville was like, “Hey, come over here.” He’s just showing me raw footage and you know the horse [semen-drinking] scene? I threw up. If I had a bigger meal in me, there would’ve been vomit in the room. But it was a chunky dry heave, definitely. It was just like, bam! Dude! I didn’t know that that was coming, so I got sucker-punched.

You’ve kept a fairly low profile since “Shakes the Clown.” What were you up to prior to “Sleeping Dogs Lie?”

I was directing [TV’s “Chappelle’s Show” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live”] for a while, that was a lot of fun, and I just wrote this script. It wasn’t like, “Oh, I’m going to write this movie and it’s going to get into Sundance.” About a year later, Sarah read it and said, “This is pretty good, we should make it.” I had no agenda or plan. I made another movie in-between, “Windy City Heat,” that was on Comedy Central and just came out on DVD [last month]. I think all three of my movies have different tones. “Shakes” is kind of like my take on a John Waters comedy, you know what I mean? Even though “Windy City Heat” is part reality, the other part is very improvisational, so it’s my stab at — and I’m not saying I’m as good as these guys — what Christopher Guest does. Then this was my attempt at a grown-up movie, like Woody Allen or Neil LaBute. If I’m lucky enough to keep directing, I don’t have much interest in doing the same kind of movie over and over again. Until any one of them is a success, then I’ll just do nine versions of that one. (laughs)

If it does become a crossover hit, what would you ideally like to work on next?

You mean, would I make “Stayin,” or actually, it’d be “Still Sleepin”? If this does well, it means that we could possibly make another small movie without breaking and entering. If you had me on a graph, I keep making movies for less and less money. The last script I wrote is probably even smaller than this movie. I have the inverted Hollywood career.

The trade-off is creative freedom and not having to use someone else’s material.

That’s the thing, I certainly didn’t do this to be the poster child for indie films or anything. People can say, “Well, you have connections,” but this really does go to show that in 16 days, anyone can make a movie. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, but I hope other people get inspired to go do it, y’know? It’s almost like the equivalent of what the web has become for musicians and people who make shorts. You can actually make a feature for… well, this movie cost less than a mid-life crisis sports car.

Years down the road, what would you like to be known best for?

I would love someday if I was lucky enough to keep making movies and people say, “He was in ‘Police Academy’? What were those movies?” I know that if I drop dead, my obituary photo is going to be me in a police uniform. But I’d be really happy if I was also known as someone who made movies. I don’t really want to act, and I think fortunately, Hollywood has spoken and nobody is hiring me. (laughs) It’s good that those two things are in sync.

I’m getting married this weekend. Do you have any advice of what I shouldn’t say to my bride-to-be, besides that time I blew a dog?

Yeah, I think you should definitely, uh… lie to your spouse. I think that’s important. Don’t push people to tell the truth, it’s just emotional blackmail. I think you should keep all deceptions going. Lying is very important to a healthy relationship. (laughs)

“Sleeping Dogs Lie” opened in limited release October 20th (official site).

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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.