DID YOU READ

Gotham City, A Visual History

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Since 1940’s “Batman” #4, and his first movie serial three years later, the Caped Crusader has called Gotham City his home. On screen and on the printed page, its visual representation has changed quite a bit over almost 70 years. At times, the look of the metropolis has been an afterthought; at others, directors have paid more attention to Gotham’s appearance than to the characters living in it, and its latest appearance, in Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight,” may be its most unusual yet. (None the least for sparking a heated New York/Chicago debate.) Here’s a look at eight movies full of gargoyles, dark alleys, and, yes, big naked statues.

07232008_batman1943.jpgBatman (1943)
Directed by Lambert Hillyer
Production Designer: Uncredited

This bargain basement production didn’t even bother giving the Dynamic Duo a Batmobile, letting them make do with a generic black sedan, so it’s no surprise Gotham is equally indistinct. The “Gotham City Foundation” is just a backlot street, and the chase scenes look an awful lot like the Bronson Canyon back roads where the ’60s “Batman” would eventually house its Batcave. The only memorable location is Gotham’s “Little Tokyo” where the serial’s shockingly racist narrator informs us “a wise government” has rounded up all the residents and sent them off to internment camps, turning it into a “virtual ghost street.” It makes for a nice contrast with the numerous scenes set on streets with some un-Gotham-like white picket fences; apparently, Mayberry is one of the town’s rarely discussed suburbs.

07232008_batman1966.jpgBatman (1966)
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
Art Direction by Serge Krizman and Jack Martin Smith

This big-screen adaptation of the iconic mid-’60s “Batman” television show was filmed between the series’ first and second series, which explains the series’ notably small scale and scope. Little to no attempt is made to disguise the fact that the production was shot in and around Los Angeles; when the Batcopter winds its way over Gotham, it looks suspiciously like the Hollywood Hills. Most of the action takes around water: at the docks where the super-villains have their hideout, in the Batboat, or atop the Penguin’s pre-atomic submarine. None of these sequences, all shot in water tanks, include any shots of a Gotham skyline. The only major municipal landmark we see is the United World Building, headquartered on “Gotham East River.” This, of course, is simply stock footage of the real life United Nations Building in New York City.

07232008_batman1989.jpgBatman (1989)
Directed by Tim Burton
Production Design by Anton Furst

If audiences still had the Adam “Pow!”-“Zot!” West’s Batman on their minds when they walked into movie theaters in the summer of 1989, the first shot of Tim Burton and production designer Anton Furst’s Gotham City erased all of that in a moment. Their Gotham was a moody, messy tangle of granite and steel peaks and spires. When Burton takes us down to street level, the city assumes even more nightmarish proportions: buildings, which look like they’ve been built on foundations of garbage, are encased in tentacle-like steam pipes. Jack Napier’s transformation into the Joker takes place at Axis Chemicals, a factory that looks like some kind of cancerous growth of concrete, and the finale is set inside the tallest church bell tower in history. Furst’s creations are weird amalgams of different types of structures: apartment buildings with smokestacks, an art museum that looks like a bank vault, as if the place itself is as schizophrenic as its wildly costumed citizens.

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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.