DID YOU READ

Odds: Thursday – The trailer park Marilyn Monroe of our time.

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Anna Nicole.
Anna Nicole Smith is dead. [Via AP.]

She was not, we’ll grant you, a feature player in the independent film scene, but she did have that smidgen of a role in "The Hudsucker Proxy." We’re unexpectedly saddened and also somewhat creeped out by her Monroe-esque death, which may be either a tragic coincidence or the end point of cosmic dedication to a lifestyle metaphor that wasn’t really working out to begin with.

Elsewhere: Walter Chaw at Film Freak Central takes his patented long knives to "Norbit," a film Greg Braxton and Robert W. Welkos at the LA Times suggest could hurt Eddie Murphy‘s Oscar chances:

"For Eddie to follow what he did with ‘Dreamgirls’ with this just doesn’t make sense," said Robert M. Entman, author of "The Black Image in the White Mind: Media and Race in America." "There’s no excuse for him to lend his prestige to something like this…. There has to be a point where African American stars of his stature have to take some responsibility for their actions and just say no."

Chaw writes:

Norbit isn’t farce–it’s a thoughtless, cancerous, viral, irresponsible pollution whose existence speaks ill of the society that produced it and of any society that would endorse or defend it. It’s not the end of civilization, just symptomatic of how easy it is to get laughs on the backs of the disenfranchised–and of how African-American actors get awards for singing and acting like criminals (or bright children and athletes) but generally get paid for acting the fool.

At Slate, Jim Lewis wins the contest of who dislikes "Factory Girl" the most:

The visual arts have traditionally been a refuge for marginal people: queers and misfits, fragile and disobedient people, the flamboyant and the terminally shy, some brilliant people, some shallow people, and quite a few con artists; and Warhol’s Factory was open to all of them. There’s a great deal more to art than that, of course; there’s hard work and scholarship and as much to think about as there is in poetry or novels or philosophy. But many of us first came to the art world because decades earlier Warhol had made it seem like a wonderful place to be, and besides that, a home. So Factory Girl isn’t just a bad movie, it’s a 90-minute insult to the culture it pretends to be capturing, and what I really want to say—as I would almost never say of anything I see or read or listen to—is that I hated it.

The New York Press‘ film issue has some decent features — we like Curt Holman‘s piece on legitimized fan cinema, and Adario Strange‘s piece on "Grindhouse":

Is there a place for the non-thinking, non-sensing movie? Of course. Every piece of art cannot be a didactic trip into social science. But it helps to know when you’re watching a real B-movie, rather than a blockbuster posing as a B-movie. What happens when artists use lies to lie? Nothing very special, and a special kind of nothing.

At the Wired‘s Table of Malcontents blog, Annalee Newitz offers a nice reading of "Pan’s Labyrinth" (with spoilers, so the fussy among you, beware!):

[O]ne might look at Ofelia’s fantasies and unnecessary death as commentary on the Marxist rebels. After all, their politics were ultimately as useless as Ofelia’s fantasies were: Franco was not deposed, and the leftist resistance was crushed. Did the Marxists die in vain? Were their hopes for justice in Spain just as fantastical as Ofelia’s hopes for peace among the fairies? I don’t think so. This film, with its vivid realization of the fairy world, wants us to believe in the power of fantasy to transform the world. Sometimes those fantasies ease the pain of an abused little girl, and sometimes they suggest a way to end the suffering of an entire people.

And at the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Michelle Devereaux, Cheryl Eddy, Max Goldberg and Johnny Ray Huston offer an exquisite corpse-style review of "Inland Empire" that ends up being about as opaque as the film itself.

+ Anna Nicole Smith dies in Florida at 39 (AP)
+ NORBIT (2007) (Film Freak Central)

+ Face of a future Oscar winner?
(LA Times)

+ A Very Nasty Portrait of the Artist (Slate)
+ WHERE NO FAN HAS GONE BEFORE (NY Press)
+ INSIDE THE GRINDHOUSE (NY Press)
+ Pan’s Labyrinth – Can Fantasies Rescue Us from Fascism? (Wired)
+ Brutal fucking movie (SF Bay Guardian)

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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.