DID YOU READ

Oscar angles and ennui.

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"Oh no, no one tells me anything."
According to Kim Masters at Slate, Oscar malaise is such that a few Academy members couldn’t be bothered to vote on everything:

The field seems to have left a number of academy voters feeling dispirited. One director said he stared at the ballot and considered leaving the best picture category blank. Then he gave Clint a tribute vote. A publicist told us he did not check favorites in a couple of major categories for the first time in his years of voting. "I just said, ‘Fuck it, I don’t like any of ’em,’ " he explained.

This time last year, there was a sense of Good vs. Evil to the Best Picture race, even if much of the serious film community’s dislike of "Crash" only seriously ramped up as its Oscar prospects did. This year, it seems impossible to come up with a way to make the Oscar seem anywhere as interesting and relevant as Hollywood would like it to be. Here are some of the latest angles of coverage:

Jim Schembri at The Age writes that this is a year of controversy and diversity:

The films are permeated by foreign tongues, foreign talent and issues that play out on a global stage rather than a predominantly American one. With easily the most culturally diverse line-up of films in its history, Oscar’s central message is that the one truly international language is not English but the medium of cinema itself.

James Adams at The Globe and Mail notes that, in order to shape up the generally draggy telecasts, the academy is mandating that acceptance speeches be "interesting and memorable":

If a winner "pulls out a list and starts to read it," that’s pretty much a guarantee that he or she is going to be cut off right away, an Oscar spokesperson said yesterday.

At the Guardian‘s blog, David Thomson runs the numbers and reminds us of how silly it is to attach much importance to the votings of the Academy, while Xan Brooks writes that neither he nor the Academy seem to know how to deal with docu-dramas.

At the LA Times, Patrick Goldstein divides the industry up into Oscar "winners" and "losers" and baits Oscar bloggers by sneering that "You’d think after the millions of words they wrote pontificating about the Oscars they could’ve come up with a better pick for best picture winner than ‘Dreamgirls.’"

At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir surveys both the Best Foreign Language Film and Best Documentary Feature categories, noting that "For the first time in my memory, both categories this year are completely not embarrassing."

Finally, Charles McNulty (who, the Guardian primly notes, is an American) claims that theatrical training is what distinguishes British actors from American ones and makes them so much more awesome and Oscar-friendly:

[I]t’s hard not to marvel at the virtuosic command of speech; the way Dench, Mirren and O’Toole make music out of spoken thought. Steeped in Shakespeare and a culture committed to live performance, they have by necessity developed their physical instruments and, in particular, that region of the body that lies between the back of the throat and the tip of the tongue.

Such redolent actorishness is also a reassuring reminder that acting can be a craft after all and not just the accomplishment of being very attractive while reciting dialogue, preferably with a modicum of inflection. Not that there’s anything wrong with the latter — hell, it’s half the reason films were invented. 

+ None of the Above (Slate)
+ Oscar’s got issues (The Age)
+ Oscars hope hot topics spice up tired telecast (Globe and Mail)
+ Why we shouldn’t take the Oscars too seriously (Guardian Film Blog)
+ No Oscars for the docu-drama (Guardian Film Blog)
+ WINNERS & LOSERS (LA Times)
+ Beyond the Multiplex (Salon)
+ Why the best actors are British (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.