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Meeting Mr. or Ms. Wrong

Meeting Mr. or Ms. Wrong (photo)

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IFC.com’s newest web series “Like So Many Things…” premieres today, and co-creators Marin Gazzaniga and Anslem Richardson offer up their thoughts on the best films about romances that are anything but easy.

“Now it isn’t that I don’t like you, Susan, because, after all, in moments of quiet, I’m strangely drawn toward you, but, well, there haven’t been any quiet moments.”
       — “Bringing Up Baby”

Meeting Mr./Ms. Wrong movies come in many varieties. There are the star-crossed lovers who are kept apart by outside forces (“Romeo and Juliet”). Or the couple whose hate for each other is only masking the sparks of true passion (just about any Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy movie). Then there’s the man or woman who’s certain that someone is their one and only, but has to spend the course of the film convincing that person that it’s true (“Bringing Up Baby”). Why is it so appealing to watch couples who shouldn’t work either figure out that, against all odds, they do, or, well, fail miserably?

      Jeanne: “Ca va pas, t’as des problemes, hein?”
      Paul: “There’s some butter in the kitchen…”
      Jeanne: “So you hear… What did you answer?”
      Paul: “Go get the butter.”
         –“Last Tango in Paris”

We founded ThisThing Films together, and we’re opposites in many ways: black/white, male/female, self-assured/self-deprecating… umbrella drinks/tequila shots. And in making our series “Like So Many Things…”, we started with two characters who shouldn’t work but who, for whatever reasons, try like hell anyway. Here are both of our top five films where opposites attract, proving, once again, the yin/yang of creative collaboration.


Hers

05192009_BringingpBaby2.jpg1. “Bringing Up Baby” (1938)
Directed by Howard Hawks

The supposedly ditzy socialite, who knows exactly what she’s doing, goes after the supposedly brilliant paleontologist, who hasn’t got a clue. This may be the best opposites-attract movie ever. Plus, is there anything better than the single take of Cary Grant trying to get Katharine Hepburn to realize the back of her dress is gone? Scorsese’s Copacabana shot in “Goodfellas” is cool, sure, but I’ll take break-neck dialogue and technical comedy in front of the camera over Steadycam shots anytime.

05192009_RomeoandJuliet.jpg2. “Romeo and Juliet” (1968)
Directed by Franco Zeffirelli

Maybe it’s because I was about 13 when a racy English teacher made us stay after school and watch this, but I’ve never seen better love at first sight than Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting. The mother of all meeting Mr. Wrong movies, Franco Zeffirelli’s take on the young lovers set the standard for all cinematic depictions of young, passionate, and forbidden love.

05192009_farfromheaven.jpg3. “Far From Heaven” (2002)
Directed by Todd Haynes

This is really a Romeo and Juliet story, only it’s societal norms and racism that keep Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) and Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert) apart, not family loyalties. The love is sweet, the unfulfillment tragic. Even though it’s Meeting Mr. Wrong with a message, Haynes manages to keep the moralizing secondary to the longing. And a lot of the longing comes from wanting those clothes — in those colors.

05192009_EternalSunshine.jpg4. “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004)
Directed by Michel Gondry

In a mind-bending story of a mismatched pair who have tried and failed to make it work, this movie pushes the romantic question of whether true love can overcome all obstacles. Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) have had their memories of each other erased, but Joel realizes too late he doesn’t want to lose Clementine and struggles vainly to keep little pieces of her hidden in his brain where they can’t be found. In a bit of inspired casting against type, Carrey is reserved, for once, and Winslet plays the loose cannon.

05192009_SomethingWild.jpg5. “Something Wild” (1986)
Directed by Jonathan Demme

Charlie (Jeff Daniels) gets his tie loosened by Lulu (Melanie Griffith) when she hijacks his day and takes him on a road trip. Charlie falls for the wild gal while being forced to pose as a suitable suitor to her parents. But it’s when Ray Liotta shows up as Lulu’s estranged ex-husband that we realize who the real Mr. Wrong is. The dark twist reminds us that not all bad boys are charming, and attraction isn’t always romantic.

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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.