Brittany Murphy, 1977-2009.

Brittany Murphy, 1977-2009. (photo)

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One of the sadder things to witness while compiling the preview for this holiday season was coming across Brittany Murphy’s name again and again in the direct-to-video section — not because it wasn’t good to see that she was working, but because she deserved better. Which makes today’s news that she passed away of cardiac arrest, far too young at the age of 32, doubly tragic — she never got the chance to turn things around.

Murphy always came alive on screen with a vitality few can muster, from her first major role in “Clueless” as the goofy but knowing makeover project Tai. She remade herself over the course of several indies in the late ’90s into one of the premier scene-stealing actresses, usually taking what should’ve been forgettable sidekick roles or underwritten female parts in films like “Drop Dead Gorgeous” and the noirish “Phoenix” and injecting them with her off-center charms, culminating in a heartbreaking turn in “Girl, Interrupted” as the fragile Daisy Randone.

Few filmmakers seemed to know what to do with her — Murphy’s run of romantic comedies in the early part of the Naughts were an ill fit for an actress too curious to play stupid, single-minded manhunters — but when someone was able to tap into her wavelength, they were rewarded with the mischief she brought to a rudimentary thriller like “Don’t Say a Word” or the touching humanity of her turn as a desperate mother in Karen Moncrieff’s “The Dead Girl,” an ensemble drama seem by far too few. Without a mic in “8 Mile,” she proved to be a force of nature and the only one who could stand toe-to-toe with Eminem at the height of his powers.

That this became the stuff of parody only weeks ago on “Saturday Night Live”‘s Weekend Update (when she parted ways with the production of the indie “The Caller”) was a reminder of both what a unique performer she was and, unfortunately, of her tumultuous personal life. (Mixed feelings also accompanied the news that she was replaced by Disney as the voice of Tinkerbell in their direct-to-video series last year, a role that Murphy surely would’ve excelled in, just as she brought an unmistakable sense of joy to her other voice work like Gloria in “Happy Feet” and the well-meaning Luanne Platter on “King of the Hill.”)

12202009_cueless4.jpgIn recent years, she came back from a two-year absence to star in thrillers like the aforementioned direct-to-DVD titles “Across the Hall” and “Deadline,” and the 2010-bound potboilers “Abandoned” and “Something Wicked” and though other eulogies have reported a comeback in the form of a small part in Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables,” her role as Amy is said to be a “glorified walk-on,” thanks to some rewrites on the film. It is an undeniably sad end for such a dynamic actress, and although she will long be remembered for her delivery of the line “I’ll never tell,” it’s the way she told so much with so little that should be commemorated.

MTV has collected the memorial tweets for Murphy from celebrity pals and admirers. “Clueless” director Amy Heckerling surmises on Scott Feinberg’s And The Winner Is… blog, “[Murphy] could have, as she got older, been a wonderful character, too. She had ‘acting chops,’ as they say, and she could have gone on for as long as she wanted.”

[Photos: “8 Mile,” Universal Pictures, 2002; “Clueless,” Paramount Pictures,1995]


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…


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. 


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


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


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

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.


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.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



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.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.