DID YOU READ

Seven memorable movie winter snowstorms.

Seven memorable movie winter snowstorms. (photo)

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Right now, much of the east coast is effectively snowbound. Since we’re all stuck here in front of our computers while the rest of the country, here’s seven memorable on-screen snowstorms to wile away the long hours.

“The Fatal Glass of Beer” (1933)

A Canadian Mountie walks into W.C. Fields’ cabin, with a big gust of fake snow following. “Is it still snowing?” Fields asks, before proceeding to accompany himself on auto-harp on a song about a young man who goes to the city, starts drinking and learns a valuable lesson about not breaking other people’s tambourines. Later Fields says “I reckon, guess and calculate” his incarcerated son is soon coming home. Still later he goes out to milk the elk. This a slow-moving but winningly bizarre meta-parody of the now obscure Yukon melodrama, oft compared to Monty Python for its sheer strangeness. Fields’ indomitability in the face of cold weather is inspiring.

“Odd Man Out” (1947)

A memorable usage of symbolic snowfall as impending death, this fascinatingly incoherent Carol Reed movie finds wounded Irish nationalist James Mason wandering around Belfast, hallucinating with increased severity until the world starts being as strange as what he’s dreaming. As the snow falls and the time to flee the city decreases, Mason ends up being kidnapped by an insane painter fixated on capturing the dying man’s eyes as he dies, in a memorably excessive sequence.

“The Cardinal” (1963)

Otto Preminger’s long, social-issue-y “The Cardinal” is actually better than you’d think. A big, splashy three-hour movie adopted from a hot-topic bestseller with no lasting value, “The Cardinal” marches through all of its Big Issues — abortion! racism! Nazis! — with a fearlessness and commendable indifference towards good taste. At one point, during darkest winter, Cardinal Tom Tryon (later a horror writer) comes to visit old friend Father Burgess Meredith. But he’s not dying in the snowstorm because of his penitential, bread-and-wine diet — he’s dying because of multiple sclerosis. This is one surprisingly tough-minded movie, though the eight-minute edit below does a good job of making it look hypnotically terrible.

“Airport” (1970)

After producing most of Douglas Sirk’s ’50s Hollywood work and the first Doris Day-Rock Hudson pairing, Ross Hunter’s final big bang was this opulent if unwieldy blend of the old-fashioned “Grand Hotel” style melodrama (“seven different stories,” as the trailer helpfully spells it out for us) with a disaster movie, with blustery George Kennedy trying to figure out how to clear off a snowed-over runway for a plane with all kinds of problems, not least that Van Heflin’s planning to blow it up. Everyone’s seen “Airplane!,” but this straightfaced original has its own special kind of entertainment value still: the airport of 1970 looks suspiciously, tantalizingly opulent.

“The Dead” (1987)

John Huston’s final film is generally considered the remotely successful attempt to put James Joyce on screen, boring in on one of his most compact stories and translating it with scrupulous but lively fidelity. The memorable final soliloquy (unfortunately unembeddable) comes intact, visualizing how “snow was general all over Ireland” as an elegiac state of mind — it tends to drive most people to tears.

“Edward Scissorhands” (1990)

The teen-emo movie to end them all, with kabuki-faced Johnny Depp as the boy whose scissorhands let him carve topiary and ice with equal skill, with the flakes that fly off his statues forming enough snowfall for a whole town. “Edward Scissorhands” gets a bit more embarrassing as I get older, but it’s endearingly angst-ridden — once you can groove with the heavy sentiment, it’s a good time.

“The Ice Harvest” (2005)

Of course, for an utter lack of sentiment you could turn to this curious neo-noir, with John Cusack clearly enjoying destroying his own image as he swears vigorously, solicits sexual favors, vomits and kills people. Alongside him is a more-foul-tempered-than-usual Billy Bob Thornton and Oliver Platt as a hilariously bluff drunkard. The movie’s not as smart as it wants to be — it’s just as snowy as “Fargo” but a lot nastier, just as violent but a lot less elegant about it — but it’s still enjoyably misanthropic low-stakes winter fun.

[Photo: “The Ice Storm,” 20th Century Fox, 1997]

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

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

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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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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.