DID YOU READ

Martin Campbell’s short memory about “Edge of Darkness.”

Martin Campbell’s short memory about “Edge of Darkness.” (photo)

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The number of Americans who know that “Edge of Darkness” — this Friday’s Mel Gibson-vs. everyone conspiracy actionfest — is actually a remake of a beloved landmark BBC miniseries is very small; almost no one I’ve talked to who wasn’t working press was aware of it (not even some of the latter knew; then again, I’m one of those pesky Anglophiles). Fewer still, I imagine, will realize that director Martin Campbell directed the original as well, which is some kind of benchmark. There’s a few cases of directors tackling their own work again, but generally within the same medium (Hitchcock’s two versions of “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” the Dutch original and American remake of “The Vanishing”). But this is a whole other animal: the compression of five hours into two, 25 years later. As far as I know, there’s no precedent for it.

And apparently, it’s been long enough ago for Campbell to forget a few things about the original. In an interview with CanMag, Campbell said that a scene in which Gibson puts shaving cream on his young daughter “was entirely Mel’s idea […] a scene that Mel improvised with the little girl.” Well no, it wasn’t: it’s one of the very few scenes the remake takes intact from the original, so I guess Gibson remembers the original better than its director.

Now, I know I’m being petty asking Campbell to recall the exactitudes of a production from 25 years ago, but there are a few things he’s wrong about, and they’re kind of crucial. Speaking of his style on the original to ComingSoon.net‘s Edward Douglas, he notes: “I hope I shot the film fairly simply. I didn’t try to do anything pretentious with the way it was shot.” Well, he didn’t. 1985’s “Darkness” won’t be winning awards for convoluted mise-en-scène anytime soon, but it’s far from straightforward. In moments of chasing and running, Campbell tends to put some kind of major obstruction in the foreground to block off space; you can see the directions people are running in and in what order, but you can’t really see where they’re going or, sometimes, who’s pursuing who. He does stuff like this over and over for four episodes, visualizing the confusion of a script that’s already plenty confusing just in outline (until suddenly, in episode five, we’ve put together pretty much all the pieces and it’s time to get on with the chases and speechifying).

01272010_edgepeck.jpgThe other thing’s a little odder. The original version is nothing if not a creature of its time, full of era-specific Thatcherite politics and a very real concern with nuclear weapons. But the “Edge of Darkness” remake has generic politics: without spoilers, what it comes up with could be plausible only to your most unshakeable 9/11-truther. Which is fine: the politics here are a pretext rather than a raison d’être. But Campbell kicks it up a notch in an interview with The Guardian: “None of that mid-’80s stuff is scary anymore. It’s like everyone has plutonium in their back garden now.” Again please? The fact that plutonium isn’t in the hands of potentially mendacious industrialists but in everyone‘s is less scary…how?

Campbell is probably perfectly sincere when he claims “I liked the emotional story, from the original, of Craven losing his daughter. That side of the story is what I loved. The political story didn’t really interest me anymore.” That’s his right. But in a remake that, quite frankly, could use a lot more Gibson-on-anyone violence and a lot less in the way of generic father-daughter bits, it’s a bit inexplicable. And it’s forgetful of what Campbell brought to the original series: not just competently helming a fascinating teleplay that leveled the personal and political (not in the usual facile sense either), but complementing it visually.

[Photos: “Edge of Darkness,” Warner Bros., 2010; “Edge of Darkness,” BBC, 1985.]

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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.