DID YOU READ

Odds: Thursday – Logy.

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"Crash"y?
We’re running a bit of a fever at the moment and probably shouldn’t be trying to write anything. Fortunately, nothing much is going on today. A few quick links:

The Guardian reports that Sacha Baron Cohen is in talks to star alongside Johnny Depp and the just-added Helena Bonham Carter in Tim Burton‘s upcoming adaptation of "Sweeney Todd." Carter will play the pie-making Mrs. Lovett (natch), Baron Cohen’s rumored to be up to play rival barber Signor Adolfo Pirelli, a role which would offer him yet another chance to flaunt an outsized accent.

Speaking of Mr. Baron Cohen, Gina Serpe at E! reports that Kazakhstan Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat Aliyev has, in an interview with Kazakhstan Today, invited the comedian to visit the country:

"We must have a sense of humor and respect other people’s freedom of creativity," Aliyez said. "It’s useless to offend an artist and threaten to sue him. It will only further damage the country’s reputation and make Borat even more popular.

"I’d like to invite Cohen here. He can discover a lot of things. Women drive cars, wine is made of grapes and Jews are free to go to synagogue."

And yet, Kazakhstan continues to be inherently funny.

Via Empire, John Cusack is returning to both co-writing a script and playing an assassin: He’ll play a hired killer in the horrendously titled "Brand Hauser: Stuff Happens."

And Gideon Yago, perhaps sensing that MTV News host fame is fleeting, is making a move into indie film. According to Borys Kit at the Hollywood Reporter,  Yago sold his screenplay, entitled "Underdog," to Focus Features.

At the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell writes, essentially, about a company called Epagogix and the business of quantifying the potential for success of films in development. Most people have already shrugged and moved on, but David Poland at The Hot Button takes the bait:

Of course, most people object the idea that movies and their success can be turned into a mathematical formula in principle. The world is already filled with people who are anguished about how cookie-cutter studio filmmaking already is. So, suggestions that it should be even more formulaic are fighting words.

Anne Thompson at the Hollywood Reporter surveys the improbably consistent success of Sony Pictures Classics. We’ve always been impressed by the way (for the most part) SPC acquires the same type of films. No other distribution arm knows their niche so well, save maybe Lionsgate.

At the New York Times, Mark Russell reports from Pusan on "Crossing the Line," Daniel Gordon‘s third doc about North Korea. This one centers on James Dresnok, one of four defectors to North Korea from the US Army who because propaganda heroes for the North:

Mr. Dresnok says he is a true believer in the North Korean system. “I wouldn’t trade it for nuthin’,” he states emphatically. He is proud that two of his three sons attend the prestigious Foreign Language School in Pyongyang, saying he could never have afforded such an education in the United States. “I don’t want my sons to be an illiterate old man like me.” But he is a celebrity in North Korea, and although Pyongyang is poor by Western standards, it is the city of the elite for North Koreans. “Anyone living in Pyongyang is privileged,” [the film’s co-producer, Nick] Bonner said. “But the main force behind us was human interest.”

At The House Next Door, Ed Gonzalez is not fond of "Flags of Our Fathers":

The stink of Crash hovers over Flags of Our Fathers. A dramatization of James Bradley and Ron Powers‘s bestseller about the truth behind the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, the film is confirmation of Paul Haggis‘s predilection for exploitation and easy sentimentality. Million Dollar Baby, a good film, suffered from Haggis’s unmistakable lower-class condescension (fans of the film stumble when trying to rationalize the Fitzgerald Family Traveling Circus), and Flags of Our Fathers, adapted for the screen by Haggis and William Broyles Jr., uses a very real, largely unknown controversy as a jumping off point for a trite homily on how wars are sold to the American public. (Some will look for parallels to current events, except that would be giving the film the benefit of the doubt.) If Clint Eastwood‘s personality barely shines through it’s because Haggis’s cartoon politics strongarm the director’s vision.

Finally, thanks to Dennis Lim of (well, at the time) the Village Voice for tossing in a mention of us in his "Best local movie blog" entry (even if the title ultimately goes to DaveKehr.com) in this week’s issue.

+ Baron Cohen lined up for Burton’s Sweeney Todd (Guardian)
+ Kazakhs Beckon Borat (E! Online)
+ John Cusack Is Brand Hauser (Empire)
+ Focus sides with Yago’s ‘Underdog’ (Hollywood Reporter)
+ THE FORMULA (New Yorker)
+ October 18, 2006 (The Hot Button)
+ Moving pictures (Hollywood Reporter)
+ An American in North Korea, Pledging Allegiance to the Great Leader (NY Times)
+ Laying it on Thick: Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers (The House Next Door)
+ Best Local Movie Blog (Village Voice)

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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.