This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.

DID YOU READ

Critic wrangle: “The Nanny Diaries.”

Posted by on

That's Annie, not Nanny.
"American Splendor" directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini take on Emma Mclaughlin and Nicola Kraus’ chick-lit roman à clef about a nanny’s involvement with a monstrous Upper East Side family, and, according to most reviews, no one in "The Nanny Diaries" emerges the winner. "Especially at the beginning of ‘The Nanny Diaries’ there are signs that
its directing and writing team had a different movie in mind," notes the New York TimesStephen Holden, who finds, regardless, the film "consists mostly of soapsuds," its sole saving grace Laura Linney as Mrs. X, the mother of Annie (Scarlett Johansson) charge. David Edelstein at New York agrees on Linney, though he also finds that "in some ways, she kills the comedy—poor Mrs. X is so obviously suffering. (In The Devil Wears Prada, Meryl Streep didn’t let the flickers of humanity upstage the mythic bitchery.)" (He ultimately deems that film "a grim slog.") Scott Tobias at the Onion AV Club also lauds the Linney: "Without her presence as a snooty Upper East Side mother in The Nanny Diaries—a crisp, though conventional, adaptation of Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus’ popular novel—the film might have been little more than a collection of broad comic stereotypes and family-values sentiment."

Roger Ebert sums the film up as "sort of bland and obvious and comfortable. Nobody is really despicable enough, a mistake Tom Wolfe would never have made." The Chicago Reader’s Jonathan Rosenbaum agrees that its satirical "audacity turns out to be deceptive and formulaic." Dana Stevens at Slate points out that despite all "The Nanny Diaries" has going for it, "watching the movie is a nonexperience—like the Upper East Side apartment where most of the action takes place, it’s lavishly appointed but joyless":

Social satire—especially class satire of the sort this movie clumsily attempts—thrives on texture and detail… But instead of fleshing out Annie’s field journal with specifics, The Nanny Diaries gestures vaguely at archetypes familiar from other movies and TV shows: the Type-A supermom; the soulless, workaholic father; the Manolo-mad working girl. Rather than making you laugh, it’s content to remind you of things that might have made you laugh in 1998, if you had a high tolerance for Sex and the City.

At Entertainment Weekly, Owen Gleiberman adds

Springer Berman and Pulcini embark on their anthro-expedition to the Upper East Side wielding poison daggers. Their sympathies are still with the working class — didactically so. Yes, there are wealthy New Yorkers as toxic as the X’s, but by making them so one-dimensional that it threatens to strain the word dimension, The Nanny Diaries becomes as flaccid and predictable as something you’d expect from Hollywood hacks.

Scott Foundas at the LA Weekly is more generous with the filmmakers, allowing that the film is "a largely faithful adaptation that nevertheless manages to improve upon the source material in several key respects," though the pair "can spin only so much cinematic silk from literary leather." Ed Gonzalez at Slant, after sharing about his fondness for Chris Evans, notes that "at least Annie considers the lifestyle of her employers… with an interesting mixture of jealousy and revulsion." And Armond White at the New York Press unexpectedly (okay, not really unexpectedly) likes the film, seeing in it the drama of "a young woman’s attempt to figure out her humanity," and writing that the filmmakers "movie culture’s unspoken taboo against class consciousness" and "comfortably deal with how race and class affect their characters’ ambitions and romantic lives."

And, since we gave just her "The Black Dahlia" romantic pairing a closer look, here’s one at ScarJo and her less complemented turn:

Stevens: "As for the inexpressive Johansson, she continues to prove that, though she can be charming as the passive object of others’ desire, her ability to carry a movie on her own is easily lost in translation."

Holden: "But Ms. Johansson’s Annie, who narrates the movie in a glum, plodding voice, is a leaden screen presence, devoid of charm and humor. With her heavy-lidded eyes and plump lips, Ms. Johansson may smolder invitingly in certain roles, but ‘The Nanny Diaries’ is the latest in a string of films that suggest that this somnolent actress confuses sullen attitudinizing with acting."

Edelstein: "But Johansson is even less of a comedian. She’s funny when she uses her drugged sexiness to convey lazy entitlement, as in Ghost World. But peppy and eager to please is a stretch. She’s uncommitted from the outset."

IFC_ComedyCrib_ThePlaceWeLive_SeriesImage_web

SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

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

Posted by on
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.”

via GIPHY

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. 

via GIPHY

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.

Neurotica_105_MPX-1920×1080

New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

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_CC_Neurotica_Series_Image4

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.

Neurotica_series_image_1

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.

Posted by on
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?”

via GIPHY

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).

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

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.

via GIPHY

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