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Love, not suicide.
Here’s a look at who’s been getting huffy about what lately:

The family of Col. Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the World War II hero who took part in a failed Hitler assassination attempt, is not happy that Tom Cruise will be playing their famed relative in a recently announced film to be directed by Bryan Singer. Via Allan Hall at The Scotsman:

Count Caspar Schenk von Stauffenberg, the soldier’s grandson, said: "I have nothing against him [Cruise] and can even separate his work from his beliefs in Scientology. But I and other family members are worried that the picture will be financed by the sect and be used to get across its propaganda. Unfortunately the family Stauffenberg can do nothing about this. My grandfather is a figure from history."

Gregg Goldstein at the Hollywood Reporter writes that fifteen suicide prevention groups are prepared to protest After Dark Films’ planned suicide-centric advertising for "Wristcutters: A Love Story." "Haha!" says After Dark Films. "Why do we need to advertise when suicide prevention groups will do it for us?" Except they do not, as they were recently forced to pull questionable advertising for Elisha Cuthbert torture vehicle "Captivity."

"Critics are supposed to share perspective on a work, to think critically," writes Lewis Beale at The Reeler:

Read some of the greats — Kael, Agee, Hoberman — and you realize they have a way of looking at things: a historical and cultural perspective that adds up to an aesthetic world view. They’re not reviewers; reviewers tell you what the movie’s about. Critics tell you what it means. Get the difference? Critics are not meant to be Masters of the Vox Populi, but people we read for intelligent, reasoned, probing analysis.

It’s a reaction to the apparently critic-proof successes "Wild Hogs," "300," et al., and the re-raised question of whether critics matter. Beale suggests that critics no longer bother with films like the ones mentioned: "you’d think a critic’s time would be better spent writing about deserving indies, thoughtful foreign releases or Hollywood flicks like Zodiac, with its passionate look at obsession and physical decline, that actually merit an essay." We discussed this model of criticism briefly during our SXSW Blogging on Film panel — some of our fellow bloggers have taken the approach of generally championing films they like and want to support, seeing negative reviews as a waste of time. It’s an approach we respect but don’t share — it’s also one we don’t see working for mainstream press. Beyond the fact that it would permanently relegate criticism to relative obscurity, it also presumes a certain stratification of "important cinema" that we find distasteful. Cinema is a populist art — some films offer considerably more depth than others, but it doesn’t mean that even the most idiotic of features doesn’t have cultural value, at least as a reflection of our time and place. As we pointed out before, "300" may be inane, but the analysis and discussion it’s sparked have been the most interesting of the young year.

Over at the Guardian film blog, Ronald Bergan suggests that a deterioration in film criticism has sprung from critics, in general, being undereducated. He provides his own list of minimum requirements of what every film critic should know. Also at the Guardian film blog, Michael White weighs in on the "300" uproar, writing that "It may be homoerotic camp, but 300 also strikes me as a dangerous piece of fantasy, a racist confrontation between the good guys (the west) and those nasty foreigners."

At the Observer, Barbara Ellen decries the representations of Beatrix Potter in "Miss Potter" and Jane Austen in the upcoming "Becoming Jane," writing that Hollywood has taken to "rebranding them (or should one say re-blanding?) as wispy, likable, ‘fragrant’ characters."

And an AP story notes that Disney is reconsidering a DVD release of its controversial and long hidden-away 1946 animated feature "Song of the South." The un-PC film is a holy grail for eBay trawling novelty-driven cinephile (though the out-of-print "Salò" Criterion DVD tends to fetch higher prices). James Pappas, associate professor of African-American Studies at the University of New York at Buffalo, is quoted in the piece: "I think it’s important that these images are shown today so that especially young people can understand this historical context for some of the blatant stereotyping that’s done today."

+ Cruise’s anti-Nazi film role irks family (The Scotsman)
+ Groups protest ‘Wristcutters’ ads (Hollywood Reporter)
+ Stop the Presses (The Reeler)
+ What every film critic must know (Guardian Blog)
+ 300 is a dangerous piece of fantasy (Guardian)
+ Stop prettying up these great women (Observer)
+ ‘Song of the South’ release mulled despite possible controversy (USA Today)



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


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…


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.


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.