DID YOU READ

Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Something Borrowed, Something Blue (photo)

Posted by on

type=”text/javascript”
src=”http://tweetmeme.com/i/scripts/button.js”>I can imagine Robert Zemeckis — whose botched motion-capture animated features “The Polar Express” and “A Christmas Carol” were full of rubbery, dead-eyed, freakish-looking human constructs — watching James Cameron’s “Avatar” with an expression on his face not unlike F. Murray Abraham’s Salieri listening to his first Mozart composition in “Amadeus.”

From a technical standpoint, “Avatar” is a game-changer, a paradigm shift, the greatest thing since sliced “2001.” In the same way that “The Matrix” and its technological advances reverberated over the ensuing decade, so will “Avatar” act as a bellwether for the next wave of effects-heavy genre films.

I just wish it were a better movie. For all of Cameron’s soaring accomplishments in creating realistic motion-capture characters and his deft handling of the new era of 3D, “Avatar” feels both familiar and overlong. You’ve traveled this road before, even if now you’re doing it in a blinged-out luxury vehicle with personal seat-warmers and a dozen cupholders.

12162009_Avatar2.jpgSam Worthington (“Terminator Salvation”) stars as Jake Sully, a paraplegic Marine who gets recruited by a corporation to take over a job for his recently deceased twin brother. The gig involves sleeping through a five-year space voyage and arriving at Pandora, a moon chock-full of a valuable element called Unobtainium; the Na’vi, the local race, haven’t meshed well with the humans, so the corporation has created beings out of human and Na’vi DNA.

These beings are controlled by human operators and act as, ta-dah, avatars. Jake, naturally, is thrilled to be back in a body that can stand and walk, even if it’s via mental remote control. The avatar work is a scientific expedition run by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), who’s not thrilled about having Jake around since he doesn’t have the training (or Na’vi language skills) of his late brother. But security chief Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lang) — the claw marks on his skull indicate no love lost between himself and the indigenous population — wants Jake to spy for him and find out what the Na’vi will barter for; failing that, the colonel wants intel on how best to wipe out the tall, blue local creatures.

Jake’s background as a warrior and not a scientist comes in handy when he meets Neytiri (Zoe Saldana, “Star Trek”), who becomes his trainer in the Na’vi ways. She shows him how to communicate with the local flora and fauna, to fall from great heights and land gently with the help of the leafy plants in the rainforest and to bond with and control the local flying creatures.

You can guess what happens next: love story, invasion of the white man, trail of tears, revenge of the underdog. Cameron’s screenplay, for all its vivid characterizations and rich depiction of an alien race, has no shame about set-ups along the lines of “Only two of our greatest warriors have ever captured the golden French fry,” followed by, inevitably, “Gasp! He has captured the golden French fry!”

12162009_avatar19.jpgStill, “Avatar” demands to be seen on the big screen. The interaction of human and animated characters reaches a new level of seamlessness, and the avatars for Jake and Grace retain elements of Worthington’s and Weaver’s faces while still looking believably alien. (Cameron claims he could do human motion-captures that are as realistic as his blue creatures, but until he really does it, his boast seems far-fetched.) It’s almost impossible to tell where the real people and objects on his set end and the fakery begins, and that’s the ultimate goal for effects work, right?

Visually, the movie veers back and forth between eye-popping visual poetry and shots that wouldn’t look out of place on the cover of a pulpy ’70s sci-fi paperback. Cameron’s script seems similarly trapped between the sublime and the ridiculous.

IFC_ComedyCrib_ThePlaceWeLive_SeriesImage_web

SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

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.”

via GIPHY

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. 

via GIPHY

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.

Neurotica_105_MPX-1920×1080

New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

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…

IFC_CC_Neurotica_Series_Image4

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.

Neurotica_series_image_1

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.

Posted by on
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?”

via GIPHY

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).

via GIPHY

via GIPHY

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.

via GIPHY

And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.