DID YOU READ

Jay and Mark Duplass on “Baghead”

Jay and Mark Duplass on “Baghead” (photo)

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A quick refresher for the six of you who need it: “Mumblecore” (c. 2005 – 2007?) is the hastily designated catch-all for a loosely allied circle of young American filmmakers utilizing a low-budget, documentary-esque shooting style for their talky DIY indies. Regardless of whether you like any of the individual films, odds are you’re either (a) tired of hearing that overhyped word, (b) have never heard it before now, or (c) one of the Duplass brothers. Actor/filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass — whose witty road-trip dramedy “The Puffy Chair” became one of the first m-word successes — are quite comfortable with their association to that so-called movement/genre/clique, and why shouldn’t they be, considering Sony Pictures Classics has released their follow-up feature? (Talk about mumble-score, har har!)

“Baghead” stars Steve Zissis, Ross Partridge, Greta Gerwig and Elise Muller as four friends and wannabe thespians who hole up in a cabin for a weekend of collaborative screenwriting on their dream project… until a mysterious stalker with a paper bag on his head shows up. Reminiscent of the Duplasses’ inventive shorts about relationships, their unusual new genre mash-up is prankish one moment, scary and suspenseful the next, and it’s for the best to give nothing else away. Mark and Jay occasionally finished each other’s sentences while yakking about lovable losers and the meta-aspects of promoting their film, but let’s get down to brass tacks:

How do we destroy the word “mumblecore?”

Mark Duplass: With the movie “Baghead?” We’ll smoke it with a simple bag. [laughs] I don’t know. We’ll keep saying “mumblecore” as long as the New York Times writes about it. We don’t really care if people call us mumblecore. Little films need attention. If people want to write about it, that’s totally fine. We don’t necessarily feel like [we’re making] mumblecore movies. They share some aesthetic traits of what people call the movement, but our movies are mainstream movies that look like independent films.

Jay Duplass: We don’t feel particularly pigeonholed by it, although we might be crying in a year or two with the backlash. We’re just continually making the movies we want to make, and whatever people want to call them, that’s fine — as long as they don’t call them a big piece of poo.

Did you intend “Baghead” as a spoof of mumblecore, as some journalists have suggested?

MD: We certainly don’t like the word “spoof” because that implies making fun of someone. We’ve made a career out of making fun of ourselves. We see “Baghead” as more of a love song to the life of a desperate actor, as opposed to, “look how stupid these people are, so let’s make fun of them.”

There is, however, one character you rightfully tease in the beginning: the pretentious indie filmmaker at a post-screening Q&A.

MD: The film festival Q&A is so ripe for the picking because they’re these giant circle jerks where the filmmakers are basically bragging about themselves, and people are trying to come up with the most interesting, poignant questions…

07222008_baghead2.jpgJD: …to show how brilliant they are that they truly understand a director’s vision. But we’re not trying to make a scathing satire. It’s funny, but we love it, too. We’re aware that we’re going up there to get worshipped, and we try to elicit that worship as much as possible. [laughs] It’s ridiculous, but at the same time, it’s great.

MD: We’re doing it right now.

That explains why I’m only asking you brilliant questions. Seriously though, have you had any weird occurrences while standing on stage after a screening?

MD: When we were at Sundance with “The Puffy Chair,” we had an 8 a.m. screening, and a lot of the local Salt Lake population came out. I think they felt that the movie was more real than it was. They started attacking me and the lead actress, Katie Aselton, because they thought we were actually dating when we shot the movie. They were wondering why we hadn’t yet gotten married in real life.

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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.