DID YOU READ

Is “Meeting People” Still Easy?

Is “Meeting People” Still Easy? (photo)

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[This article is part of our Radiohead Fanatic Fortnight — check out our box set giveaway here.]

When Radiohead achieved worldwide fame following the success of “OK Computer,” Grant Gee was there capturing it all with an array of cameras, some fresh ideas and a lot of style. Ten plus years later, that style still looks fresh in his documentary “Meeting People Is Easy,” an uncomfortable chronicle of Radiohead’s 1998 tour, a portrait of the band as they hit the height of their success as well as their breaking point as a group. A prolific music video director (he also directed the video for Radiohead’s “No Surprises”), Gee’s since gone on to shoot more feature documentaries, including 2007’s “Joy Division,” which was critically adored but slightly overshadowed by “Control,” Anton Corbijn’s narrative biopic of the band’s lead singer Ian Curtis that came out the same year.

I caught Gee on the phone while he was clearly on holiday, and found out he was maneuvering on a few potential feature projects. One looks to be about Vietnam War deserters in 1968 London, and another about the writer W. G. Sebald. On the surface, most of our time was spent prying into his past with Radiohead, but our subconsciouses were talking geography.

There’s a visual similarity in some of your work with scrolling text.

Oh, I use it in everything, I’ve got two ideas and that’s one of ’em. It’s all over the place. It’s in “Joy Division.” Everything I do has a head, somebody talking with text floating in front of them or behind them.

In “Meeting People Is Easy,” it’s used along with a barrage of really absurd interview questions.

Yeah, sort of absurd. Just questions really — if you take them out of context, they’re always absurd, or most the time, yes. That all happens from a two- or three-day period. It wasn’t me going, let’s find the most idiotic things from around the world. They sat in these hotel suites for three days, four suites booked up simultaneously, I’ve never seen anything like it. Maybe more bands do it more often now. They had 20-minute slots, or if it was a big paper, it’d be a 40-minute slot, and there were just journalists in holding patterns outside the door. It was crazy, so I was running around, leaving a microphone in one room, going and filming something in another. I wasn’t hamming it up.

Have you developed a distaste for music journalism since then?

No, not at all, because it’s kind of what I do as well. I’m not putting myself in a superior position. The best thing you can do in a documentary is show people, show what people do. And there was this real sense that everyone was doing their job. I know Thom [Yorke] was really interested in that idea at the time as well, because he was unhappy with their role at being on the other end of all those questions. Things definitely changed for them afterward. And I don’t think people will ask a band like Radiohead those kinds of questions again so easily. If you show people themselves at work, then it makes them more self-conscious. I’m not saying all journalists are going to watch it, but it’s what documentaries are supposed to do, show the reality of something. And then if that reality is uncomfortable, then maybe it changes a little bit.

04082009_Radiohead6.jpgYou’re obviously quite conscious of the effects of media saturation. I’m wondering if you grappled with this in your own work in this context, especially in that documentary where you’re exposing it.

The funny thing is, at the same time that I thought I was nailing this newfangled phenomena of the multi-format, multi-outlet blitz — siphoning off the talent and putting them into a thousand different places, not just one magazine — it was the first time web sites were doing chats and all that sort of shit. I thought, this is just insane and it’ll all collapse quite soon. And of course, it becomes the dominant celebrity culture, the dominant mode of how you deal with pop over the next decade. We were putting little surveillance cameras in the band’s dressing room and it felt like we were working along the same lines as people who were developing reality TV. We were doing it in a slightly more arty way, but it’s the same as “Big Brother,” what we were doing with that band, seeing them locked in their bubble. “Radiohead Big Brother” is what I think of that film in a way.

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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.