DID YOU READ

Versus: Spike Lee and Clint Eastwood, Werner Herzog and Abel Ferrara.

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06102008_miracleatsantaanna.jpgIn the left corner, you have the highly quotable, controversy-courting filmmaker Shelton Jackson “Spike” Lee. In the right, the generally taciturn but sometimes just as headline-quote worthy actor-director Clinton Eastwood, Jr. At stake: the accuracy of the racial makeup of the casts of “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima.”

Lee threw the first punch at a Cannes press conference on the film he’s just finishing up, “Miracle at St Anna,” a drama about four “Buffalo Soldiers” in the 92nd Division fighting in Tuscany during World War II that he suggests is a corrective to films like Eastwood’s:

“There were many African-Americans who survived that war and who were upset at Clint for not having one [in ‘Flags of Our Fathers’ and ‘Letters from Iwo Jima’]. That was his version: the negro soldier did not exist. I have a different version…. It’s not like he could say he didn’t know. It was a conscious decision not to have any black people.”

Eastwood refused to respond at his own press conference for “Changeling,” which took place half an hour later, but had no such hesitations in an interview with the Guardian on Friday. Not one to mince words or, apparently, think twice when speaking on record to a reporter, he said:

“He was complaining when I did Bird [the 1988 biopic of Charlie Parker]. Why would a white guy be doing that? I was the only guy who made it, that’s why. He could have gone ahead and made it. Instead he was making something else.” As for Flags of Our Fathers, he says, yes, there was a small detachment of black troops on Iwo Jima as a part of a munitions company, “but they didn’t raise the flag. The story is Flags of Our Fathers, the famous flag-raising picture, and they didn’t do that. If I go ahead and put an African-American actor in there, people’d go, ‘This guy’s lost his mind.’ I mean, it’s not accurate”…

Eastwood pauses, deliberately – once it would have provided him with the beat in which to spit out his cheroot before flinging back his poncho – and offers a last word of advice to the most influential black director in American movies. “A guy like him should shut his face.”

And now back to Lee, who’s responded to the ABC News:

“First of all, the man is not my father and we’re not on a plantation either. He’s a great director. He makes his films, I make my films … And a comment like ‘A guy like that should shut his face’ – come on Clint, come on. He sounds like an angry old man right there…

“If he wishes, I could assemble African-American men who fought at Iwo Jima and I’d like him to tell these guys that what they did was insignificant and they did not exist,” he said. “I’m not making this up. I know history. I’m a student of history. And I know the history of Hollywood and its omission of the one million African-American men and women who contributed to World War II… Not everything was John Wayne, baby.”

Clint, you had me until “shut his face.” I love approximately 50% of Lee’s films and still wish he would shut his face approximately 90% of the time, but no one’s going to throw my ill-considered remarks far and wide on the news wires. By taking Lee’s bait, Eastwood does look like a grumpy codger, albeit one who’s very generously doing his part to help publicize Lee’s latest work.

Elsewhere, on the main IFC.com site, Aaron Hillis gets clarification from Werner Herzog on the tiff with Abel Ferrara we’re all longing to see play out:

That’s “Bad Lieutenant,” right?

Yes, it’s a completely new version that people think is a remake, but it’s a completely different story. I’ve never seen the “Bad Lieutenant” that was made sometime in the ’90s, I guess.

You told Defamer you hadn’t even heard of Abel Ferrara.

I don’t know who he is, but I heard he has a good, gruff face and maybe he would be good as a gangster in the movie. The last James Bond is not a remake of the previous one. They’re completely different stories, but the leading character is somewhat similar.

But the Bond movies are a series. So basically, the only thing your film has in common is its title?

Well, there is a bad lieutenant in the previous film and in this one. We may even drop the title. I don’t know yet. [It’s] not to avoid it, even if people think it might be a remake. You see, once this kind of rumor is out, you can never stop it. It’s like slashing open a pillow on the roof of your house and the wind blows in it and spills all the feathers out into the landscape. Now go out and find those feathers again and put them back in the bag. It’s impossible. We have to enjoy it as it is. I think we have to allow the rumors to live on. We cannot stop them, so let them live on.

[Photo: Lee’s “Miracle at St. Anna,” Touchstone Pictures, 2008]

+ Spike Lee accuses Clint Eastwood of erasing black GIs from history (London Times)
+ Dirty Harry comes clean (Guardian)
+ Spike Strikes Back: Clint’s ‘an Angry Old Man (ABC News)
+ Werner Herzog on “Encounters at the End of the World” (IFC)

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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.