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DID YOU READ

Tribeca Tale of the Tape: Mariah Carey vs. Dave Matthews

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By Stephen Saito

[For complete coverage of the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, check out IFC’s Tribeca page.]

In a festival that’s boasted such fine music docs as “Lou Reed’s Berlin” and “Playing for Change: Peace Through Music,” along with an appearance from Madonna to promote the non-musical Malawi doc “I Am Because We Are,” Tribeca has also turned out to be a place where musicians put down their instruments and pick up scripts. Though acting is nothing particularly new for either Mariah Carey or Dave Matthews, the two have taken on supporting roles in the low-budget films “Tennessee” and “Lake City,” respectively, both in this year’s line-up. Here’s a look at how they measured up.

04292008_tennessee.jpgMariah Carey, “Tennessee”

Albums sold: Over 160 million worldwide.

Previous acting experience: “Glitter,” the straight-to-DVD “WiseGirls”

Role believability: We’re inclined to believe that Carey’s early moments in the film, as a forlorn waitress longing for a better life, might’ve been inspired by the fact that shooting in New Mexico was probably not that exciting to Mimi. And once we see her sitting by the side of the road in front of the Route 66 Restaurant where she works with a notebook, humming, we know “Tennessee” isn’t going to be a real stretch for Carey as an actress. The same can’t be said for her character’s plunging neckline.

Stunt double justification: Mariah can’t drive…sort of. For a relatively slow speed chase away from her husband, who just happens to be a state trooper, Carey’s character Krystal manages some nifty wheel work to evade a fast-approaching tractor. Although Krystal gets away by hopping a train, Carey can’t escape the end credits, which reveal that she had a stunt driver.

Huh? Moment: There are a few, but if we have to choose, the gem is when Krystal overhears a guy who she just met telling someone on the phone how great she is — she’s really nice and boy, she should go to Nashville with him and his brother. He then asks her to greet the mystery person on the other end of the line. When she picks up the phone and realizes no one’s there, she continues the conversation. The runner up for this category is Carey’s delivery of the following phrases: “You don’t know your limits. You know what happens to people who don’t have limits? They cross the line.”

Interesting character quality: Teaches the guys how to drink tequila shots at an Oklahoma dive bar.

Does she sing? Well, yeah. In fact, the more cynical members of the audience might wonder if the only reason Carey signed on was to sing “Right to Dream,” a sort of “I’m Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman” for those old enough to be in the latter category, but who’ve come of age since watching Britney Spears cover the same territory in “Crossroads.” Never mind that Carey’s coming out moment happens during a Nashville talent competition where her R & B stylings seem strangely out of place.

Scene partner from acting royalty: Ethan Peck, grandson of Gregory, plays the leukemia-stricken man who, along with his brother, invites Carey’s character to Nashville.

Hit song that needs reevaluation after “Tennessee”: “Shake It Off,” because really what else can Carey do?

Should she give up her day job? No, though we’ll give her some credit, since the three gentlemen sitting next to us during Sunday night’s screening of “Tennessee” came ready to laugh, complete with a flask of booze, which they managed to get to the bottom of without even letting out a chuckle.

04292008_lakecity.jpgDave Matthews, “Lake City”

Albums sold: Over 35 million worldwide.

Previous acting experience: “Because of Winn Dixie,” “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry,” that episode of “House”

Role believability: We would never have thought of Matthews as a badass drug dealer, but those nervous ticks he usually gets when hitting a high note pop up in his performance, making him an unpredictable and engaging villain. He also sports a surprisingly creepy beard.

Stunt double justification: Less than five minutes into the film, Matthews’ thug Red is interrogating Troy Garity’s Billy over some missing drugs, and unwisely allows Billy a drink and a smoke. Alas, Billy swished his drink rather than swallowed, creating a blowtorch effect when Red offers him a light and Billy spits the alcohol in his face. The action in the scene in seamless, but we’re assuming Matthews’ credited stunt double Chris Moore was the one who took the heat.

Huh? Moment: In the opening credits, Matthews is credited as “David,” which may be an attempt to separate his acting career from his music career. We’ll gladly call him whatever he’d like as long as he doesn’t kick our ass, and we’ll even apologize for mocking that Tribe of Heaven album.

Interesting character quality: Has a hard time getting out of bed. Red makes a point of yelling repeatedly how he just got out of bed before answering a knock on the door to his hotel room.

Does he sing? No, and his character is not a man with a song in his heart, but rather a gun stuffed down the back of his pants.

Scene partner from acting royalty: Troy Garity, son of Jane Fonda (and Tom Hayden), plays a man who returns home with a dangerous past, which includes Matthews’ drug dealer.

Hit song that needs reevaluation after “Lake City”: “What Would You Say?” now suddenly seems like less of a come on than a terse directive.

Should he give up his day job? Probably not, but while Matthews is likely never going to make leading man, “Lake City” demonstrates that his quirks might allow for a nice career as a character actor in supporting roles.

[Photos: Ethan Peck and Mariah Carey in “Tennessee,” Lee Daniels Entertainment, 2008; Dave Matthews and Troy Garity in “Lake City,” Mark Johnson Productions, 2008]

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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.