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Francis Ford Coppola Untangles “Tetro”

Francis Ford Coppola Untangles “Tetro” (photo)

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It was telling that a roundtable interview with Francis Ford Coppola ended with a great deal of enthusiasm… about his vineyards. And much of it was from the director himself, who slyly countered one of the assembled journalists’ praise of his Cabernet Sauvignon with “maybe I should offer an associate producer credit for people buying my wine.”

Of course, it was the fruit of Coppola’s estimable winery that financed “Tetro,” but the film itself appears to be a product of a filmmaker who’s become richer with age, though the clearer focus he now has as an artist has produced a feature that might seem less so for some audiences. Like his last film, “Youth Without Youth,” “Tetro” is aggressively unconventional, using crisp black and white cinematography to tell the tale of the Tetrocinis, an estranged family of artists. The youngest son (Alden Ehrenreich) feigns a leave of absence from military school, much like Coppola did in his youth, in order to seek out his mercurial older brother Tetro (Vincent Gallo) in Buenos Aires. The result is reminiscent of Picasso’s “Guernica,” if it were applied to family dynamics — bold and confrontational, tempered with flashbacks of the family’s painful past, occasionally in color, and splashed with scenes of ballet shot in vivid reds and blues, all brought together with the command of a master filmmaker.

Coppola himself wouldn’t agree with that last part — in the roundtable, he repeated what he told his longtime friend and editor Walter Murch, that his intention with going to Argentina to shoot “Tetro” was “to learn how to make movies,” a renewed perspective on filmmaking that gives some context to recent interviews where he’s suggested there never should’ve been a sequel to “The Godfather” or that this is the start of “a second career.” Afterward, I got a few brief moments to talk to Coppola and Ehrenreich, who was said to have been discovered by Steven Spielberg at a bar mitzvah, about Coppola’s decision to self-distribute and why film is a still a young art form.

You’ve dipped your toe into self-distribution with the college tour for “Coda” and the re-release of “One From the Heart” — what was it about “Tetro” that made you think this was the way to go?

Francis Ford Coppola: It was really not so much about distribution. The film has only been finished for about four weeks — we finished it just before Cannes. I didn’t want to show it unfinished to distributors, and that’s a very naughty thing because they never want to see it together and you’ve got to show it to one first, then you can’t say you showed it to the other guy, and then if you show it to one first and they don’t take it, then everyone knows they didn’t take it. It’s just a nightmare to get involved. So I decided I would only show the film to distributors when it was finished and just go to Cannes and show it to everybody.

06102009_Tetro2.jpgBut what happens with independent films is they tend to release them at the end of the year because they feel they need action for prizes and things, which I don’t think they do. I think that’s already an old fashioned idea. I wanted the film to come out as soon after Cannes as possible in the spring, so I picked the date June 11th, which is my father’s birthday, and by doing that, obviously, there was no distributor, so we just started to book the theaters and had to make the web site and the poster and the trailer, so that’s what distribution is.

Also, I didn’t want the film to come out in November because if I did, then I’d be doing PR all year, which is what the distributor wants you to do. June 11th is good because there’s all the big summer pictures, there aren’t a lot of independent films out, so we maybe have a better chance, even with critics, that they would be able to not have to write a review every three hours and they’d be able to think about it.

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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.