DID YOU READ

Five reasons “Pirate Radio” flopped.

Five reasons “Pirate Radio” flopped. (photo)

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As you’re doubtless aware, the weekend saw “Precious” making $6.1 million from a measly 174 screens, doing well on its probable journey towards Best Picture; “Fantastic Mr. Fox” did well too, pulling roughly the same per-theater average as “The Darjeeling Limited” in its first weekend, which means Wes Anderson may or may not still be too cool for the mainstream. Less remarked upon was the crash-and-burn failure of “Pirate Radio,” Richard Curtis’ tepidly-awaited follow-up to “Love Actually.”

Considering the latter is a dorm-room staple of deluded pseudo-romantic girls everywhere, why might this be? And no, “bad reviews” is not an acceptable answer — the Metacritic score for “Pirate Radio” is actually slightly higher than that for “Love Actually”. Here are five reasons for the film’s failure, both conceptual and lifted from the terrible trailer:

1. No one cares about Richard Curtis in the US.

Richard Curtis did time on “BlackAdder” and “Mr. Bean.” That means nothing in the US (sadly). He did, however, write the following romcom staples: “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” “Notting Hill,” both Bridget Jones films, the aforementioned “Love Actually.” HOW HARD IS THAT TO MENTION IN THE TRAILER? Pretty freakin’ hard, apparently: we get a voice-over informing us that this is from “the creator of ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’ and ‘Love Actually.'” Two mistakes there: assuming your target audience is old enough to remember “Four Weddings” (doubtful) and using the ever-nebulous “from the creator of” formula, which wary audiences are smart enough to distrust. Just say “From the writer of every romantic comedy you love” early on with a full resume count — not in a perfunctory voice-over over a minute-and-a-half into the trailer, by which points the young romantic girls are all like “Old dudes! Ew!” and have tuned out. Speaking of which:

11162009_pirateradio2.jpg2. Philip Seymour Hoffman and Bill Nighy are not stars.

We love them and all, but: clear enough. So don’t foreground them in your marketing! It’s all about that romcom hook — and no, it doesn’t matter that the movie isn’t actually a romcom. Cut it so it looks upbeat and heartwarming — there’s a whole father-son thing going on — and foreground Curtis’ bio. It’s not hard to sell mush. These are just two of many things wrong with the trailer. Conceptually, though:

3. People are tired of self-congratulatory baby boomers.

Remember when “Taking Woodstock” tanked earlier this year and Ang Lee was all like “I am very confused by the failure of my movie”? Let us note, now and forever, that audiences under fifty — i.e., much of the prime moviegoing public — are sick and tired of hearing about how the baby boomers changed the world, saved rock ‘n roll et al. I know this is a cliché, but that’s because it’s true. So stop making movies about it.

11162009_pirateradio3.jpg4. The soundtrack.

At the end of the trailer come these exciting words: “Soundtrack featuring music by The Who/The Kinks/Cream/The Rolling Stones.” OMG NEW RARITIES? Oh wait, no, you’re inviting me to see the aural equivalent of a classic rock station? Why would anyone want to see that? Are you actually using “Won’t Get Fooled Again” in the trailer?

5. Bonus reason: it already showed on Air Canada.

No, really, it was screened in its original, longer British cut — called “The Boat That Rocked” — in the “avant garde” section. (Lulz, etc.) There goes the precious Canadian business traveler market!

[Photos: “Pirate Radio,” Focus Features, 2009]

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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.