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Julie Delpy on “2 Days in Paris”

Julie Delpy on “2 Days in Paris” (photo)

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French writer-actress-songbird Julie Delpy has probably been associated most with American film, and not only for her “Before Sunset” Oscar nomination in 2005 (for co-screenwriting!). Still, she is French, so it could be argued that having a bicultural identity has allowed her a more objective view of how both countries and their citizens can misbehave and act cruel. Adding to her list of hyphenates, Delpy the feature director and editor also co-stars in “2 Days in Paris,” a self-described “mean-spirited” relationship comedy that addresses said observations on modern-day culture clashes of the social, political, age and gender varieties. Adam Goldberg ever-neurotically stars as jaded New York designer Jack, who has just had a lousy Venice getaway with his photog girlfriend Marion (Delpy). On the way home, they’re stopping off in the titular city for said duration, an attempted vacation corrective and couples rekindling that invariably makes them crazier, crankier and more jealous. It’s not as “Before Sunset” as the title might seem, since language barriers, overbearing folks, flirty ex-beaus and other annoyances turn what might’ve been “Meet the Fockers” into a biting bicker-fest of the Woody Allen variety. And of course, it’s political. Considering that two of Delpy’s early screen roles were in Jean-Luc Godard’s “Détective” and “King Lear,” it’s not surprising that her first narrative feature would be filled with thinly disguised references to her personal beliefs.

Before the interview, you seemed surprised that all of your film’s publicists were women. Are there major differences in how a film is promoted in America compared to Europe?

It’s actually quite similar in France, though when you do a TV show, you’re terrified because the host might insult you. It’s in fashion right now that the host, to make the show cool, will trash you to the ground. I go to shows in France literally shaking in terror, and I’m never scared of anything like that because people are usually civilized, even if they don’t like the film. I’m not even scared of criticism, but when they lash at you, it’s terrifying. I’m always lucky somehow, but it’s happened to a lot of other artists. It’s publicity for their work, so I guess it’s worth it. But if I knew someone was going to say horrible things to me, I wouldn’t go. I have to say that in America, journalists are nicer and more respectful. They can be in France, but some are not always nice. Like the French, they’re not very nice people in general. [laughs] I actually love France. It is my country of birth, it’s a lot of fun, and even when people are grumpy, it makes me laugh.

Certainly nobody is safe from being ridiculed in your film.

No! Men, women, Americans, French — they all get it. I don’t hate the French or Americans or men or women. I’m not really angry at people, but I think it’s funny when people are mean to one another. [laughs] I think the beginning of the film sets the tone. [Jack is] an American sending other Americans to the suburbs just to get ahead of the taxi line. It doesn’t mean they’re bad because, in the end, I still like the people that I’m describing, even though they’re not very nice. Marion is crazy, hysterical, lashing at people. And Jack is neurotic and obnoxious in so many ways. The parents are obnoxious, too. The sister is a bitch, but I love her. I’m just describing them in all their flaws.

Where were you living when anti-French sentiments were in the air, circa 2003?

I was in California, so “freedom fries” were not a big hit. California has a lot of liberal people and most Americans I knew were embarrassed: “Oh my god, this is horrifying!” But it’s not one America or France. It’s important to be reminded of that all the time. I wasn’t embarrassed or shocked, more amused.

You express some of that amusement by making political jabs throughout the film. Not to oversimplify, but is it twice as hard to get your film out there in a polarized sociopolitical climate?

I can’t help it. For me, it’s important because I have [personal beliefs] in my life. So why not put them in the movie? Right away, I’m pretty clear where I stand. I face the same problems in France. The French distributors were horrified by the racist taxi driver scene and the ex-boyfriend pedophile; [it was] ex-colonial mentality. They wanted me to cut it out because it’s too offensive to the French, “it’ll never work here,” people will get upset, blah blah. Some journalists were offended, but most people didn’t mind because it’s a reality. It’s not a lie. If you don’t want to show the truth, that’s problematic if you can’t express that in movies.

For a lot of films here, you have to respect all demographics and you don’t want to offend anyone. You just want to get as many people as you can to go to the movies, but I think that’s bullshit. For example, 9/11 movies. Some people will not like those films and will not go see them. So what? 50 million people could still potentially see these films. Mine is the same. It’s liberal-friendly, though I know Republicans who saw the film and liked it. They’re conservative, but they think Bush has made huge mistakes throughout his entire time in power. So it depends, but I don’t think it’s [for] hardcore Bush supporters. And it’s not even a liberal movie because it makes fun of everyone, you know what I mean? I tried to make a movie [in which] I was free to express whatever I wanted. Because it was such a small budget, I was allowed to talk about subject matters that I don’t see in other films. I want to say things in a way that can be kind of crude. “It is a blowjob that brought down America’s last chance at a healthy democracy” is a crude line, but it might be true.

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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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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.