DID YOU READ

Meryl Streep is not a Na’vi.

Meryl Streep is not a Na’vi.  (photo)

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Profiling the directorial debut of “Ghost Whisperer” creator John Gray — who’s financing his directorial debut “White Irish Drinkers” with $600,000 out of his own pocket — The New York Times‘ John Anderson feels it necessary to tell us that “it’s never been a tougher climate for independent film, since they don’t usually feature seven-foot blue-skinned Na’vis or Meryl Streep.” Har. More importantly: when did super-advanced 3D f/x and a sexegenarian acting legend become the same thing?

About two years ago. In accordance with the old studio executive dictum that two of anything is a trend that can be ridden out indefinitely, Streep’s blockbuster summers with “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Mamma Mia!” led Entertainment Weekly to dub her a “box office queen.” Vanity Fair picked up the meme as their January 2010 cover story. The evidence: those two movies, plus “Julie & Julia” and “It’s Complicated.”

Though journalists who need to fill up space are often guilty of cooking up fake trends from anything that happens three or more times, in this case, it’s the studio heads that deserve the blame. The EW article has Sony chief Amy Pascal raving about how Streep let her “sexiness” out in “Adaptation.” More interestingly, Donna Langley — then president of production at Universal, now co-chair — was skeptical that would lead to more female-driven films. “I don’t think one has anything to do with the other,” she said. “It’s a specific Meryl moment. But it’s wonderful to watch.”

01252010_Julie&Julia1.jpgWell, no, it’s not even that. It’s certainly true that Streep is toplining successful films, and that she has something to do with it. But correlation and causation are not the same thing; if they were, we’d be talking not just about those four films, but all the other amazingly successful films she’s made since “Prada.” Ready? “Dark Matter,” “Evening,” “Rendition,” “Lions for Lambs,” “Doubt.” Do you see where I’m going with this?

Now, granted, all of those were tough sells (“Lions for Lambs” is straight-up garbage, in particular), but her hits have all needed a little more help than having her name above the title. “Prada” was an adaptation of a wildfire best-seller done right, timed to ride on the hysteria surrounding “America’s Next Top Model,” “Mamma Mia!” filled the musical void during the summer of 2008 and used ABBA like a club, “Julie & Julia” was a cross-generational biopic, one of whom was really famous, released during the height of the Food Network’s popularity. The only one I’m prepared to concede is “It’s Complicated,” and even there, it was an ensemble rather than a solo vehicle released when there were no other major comedies at Christmas.

This is no knock on Streep, who I’ve particularly enjoyed in her late-period comedienne phase; she’s finally stopped scaring the hell out of me, leaving me more time to have nightmares about Isabelle Huppert. But her success doesn’t really have much to do with audiences having an OMGMERYLSTREEP moment. And certainly no one’s going to confuse her with a Na’vi.

[Photos: “The Devil Wears Prada,” 20th Century Fox, 2006; “Julie & Julia,” Columbia Pictures, 2009.]

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Forget Oscar

Find Your Spirit Animal

The Spirit Awards are LIVE this Saturday at 2p PT/5p ET.

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In just a few precious days, the greatest, most epic, most star-studded awards ceremony of the year comes to IFC.

And please, we’re definitely not talking about the Oscars. We’re talking about the Spirit Awards. Hosted by iconic comedy duo Nick Kroll and John Mulaney, it’s a relatively under-the-radar awards show with serious cred. And if the past is any indicator, we’re in for a wild night.

If you feel like doing your homework, you can find a full list of nominees and performance excerpts here. It reads like a who’s who of everyone that matters – those larger-than-life personalities with status that borders on mythological. Our celebrity spirit animals, if you will.

This isn’t hyperbole. Literally everyone who takes the stage at the awards show is spirit animal material. Let’s see if we can help you find yours…

Do you

Live in someone else’s shadow despite shining like the sun? Do you inexplicably vandalize your pretty-boy good looks with a sloppy-joe man bun and a repellent pubic-hair beard? Do you think sounding stoned and sounding thoughtful are kinda the same thing?

Congratulations, your spirit animal is Casey Affleck.

He’s the self-canonized patron saint of anyone who’s got the goods but doesn’t give a damn.

Do you

Have mid-length hair and exude a certain feminine masculinity that is universally appealing? Are you drawn to situations that promise little to nothing in the way of grooming or hygiene as a transparently self-conscious attempt to conceal your radiant inner glow? Does that fail miserably?

Way to go, your spirit animal is Viggo Mortensen.

He’s the yoga teacher of actors, in that what should make him super nasty only increases his curb appeal.

Do you

Get zero recognition for work that everyone knows is unrivaled? Do you inspire greatness in others yet get shortchanged when it comes to your own acclaim? Are you a goddam B-52 bomber in an industry of biplanes?

Bingo, your spirit animal is Annette Bening.

What does it take for this artist to win an Oscar? Honestly now, if her performance in 20th Century Women doesn’t earn her every award on the planet, consider it proof that the Universe truly is a cold dark void absent of reason or compassion.

Do you

Walk into a room full of strangers and walk out with a room full of friends? Have you been hiding under the radar just waiting for the right moment to leap out into the spotlight and stay there FOREVER? Do you possess the almost messianic ability to elevate Shia LaBeouf’s on-screen charisma?

You guessed it (or not), your spirit animal is 100% Sasha Lane.

If you haven’t seen American Honey, then you haven’t heard of her. She came out of the blue with a performance both subtle and powerful, and now she’s going to be in all the movies from this moment on. Or she should be, at any rate.

Don’t see your spirit animal there? Worry not. There are many more nominees to choose from, and you can see them all (yes, including Shia LaBeouf) during the Independent Spirit Awards, this Saturday at 2pm PT/5pm ET only on IFC.

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Car Notes

Portlandia Keeps Road Rage In Park

Get a lesson in parking etiquette on a new Portlandia.

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It’s the most American form of cause and effect: Park like a monster, receive a passive-aggressive note.

car notes note

This unofficial rule of the road is critical to keeping the great big wheel of car-related Karma in balance. And naturally, Portlandia’s Kath and Dave have elevated it to an awkward, awkward art form in Car Notes, the Portlandia web series presented by Subaru.

If you’ve somehow missed the memo about Car Notes until now, you can catch up on every installment online, on the IFC app, and on demand. You can even have a little taste right here:

If your interest is piqued – great news for you! A special Car Notes sketch makes an appearance in the latest episode of Portlandia, and you can catch up on it now right here.

Watch all-new Portlandia Thursdays at 10P on IFC.

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Naked and Hungry

Two New Ways to Threeway

IFC's Comedy Crib gets sensual in time for Valentine's Day.

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This week, two scandalous new digital series debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib.
Ménage à Trois invites people to participate in a real-life couple’s fantasy boudoir. And The Filling is Mutual follows two saucy chefs who invite comedians to make food inspired by their routines. Each show crosses some major boundaries in sexy and/or delicious ways, and each are impossible to describe in detail without arousing some awkward physical cravings. Which is why it’s best to hear it directly from the minds behind the madness…

Ménage à Trois

According to Diana Kolsky and Murf Meyer, the two extremely versatile constants in the ever-shifting à trois, “MàT is a sensually psychedelic late night variety show exploring matters of hearts, parts and every goddamn thing in between…PS, any nudes will be 100% tasteful.”

This sexy brainchild includes sketches, music, and props that would put Pee-wee’s Playhouse to shame. But how could this fantastical new twist on the vanilla-sex variety show format have come to be?

“We met in a UCB improv class taught by Chris Gethard. It was clear that we both humped to the beat of our own drum; our souls and tongues intermingled at the bar after class, so we dove in head first.”

Sign me up, but promise to go slow. This tricycle is going to need training wheels.

The Filling is Mutual

Comedians Jen Saunderson and Jenny Zigrino became best friends after meeting in the restroom at the Gotham Comedy Club, which explains their super-comfortable dynamic when cooking with their favorite comedians. “We talk about comedy, sex, menses, the obnoxiousness of Christina Aguilera all while eating food that most would push off their New Year’s resolution.”

The hook of cooking food based off of comedy routines is so perfect and so personal. It made us wonder about what dishes Jen & Jenny would pair with some big name comedy staples, like…

Bill Murray?
“Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to… Oh, that’s easy Meatballs with Lingonberry Space Jam it’d be great, but then we’d have to avoid doing any kind of silly Groundhog Day reference.” 

Bridget Everett?
“Cream Balls… Sea Salt encrusted Chocolate Ganache Covered Ice Cream Ball that melt cream when you bite into them.” 

Nick Kroll & John Mulaney? 
“I’d make George and Gil black and white cookies from scratch and just as we open the oven to put the cookie in we’d prank ’em with an obnoxious amount of tuna!!!”

Carrie Brownstein & Fred Armisen? 
“Definitely a raw cacao “safe word” brownie. Cacao!”

Just perfect.

See both new series in their entirety on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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