Animators who have made the live-action leap.

Animators who have made the live-action leap. (photo)

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It’s a pleasant surprise to see that Brad Bird is being considered as a possible director for “Mission Impossible IV,” a game of musical chairs that is said to include “Zombieland”‘s Ruben Fleischer and Edgar Wright.

Of course, “The Iron Giant” director has never helmed a live-action feature before, though that shouldn’t be a stumbling block if the action choreography in “The Incredibles” is any indication. (Bird’s already had been working on a $200-million plus live-action adaptation of James Dalessandro’s “1906,” a romance set against San Francisco’s most epic earthquake, which in turn pushed back a sequel featuring the superpowered Parr family.)

With computer-generated imagery of all types invading all the more into live-action films, it’s no wonder that Bird is up for the gig, just as “Horton Hears a Who!” director Jimmy Hayward is putting the finishing touches on this summer’s “Jonah Hex” and “WALL·E” helmer Andrew Stanton is starting to film “John Carter of Mars” as Pixar’s first foray into live-action for 2012. Meanwhile, “Ice Age” director Chris Wedge had planned to make his live-action debut on an adaptation of Brian Selznick’s adventure novel “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” before Martin Scorsese took the reins.

But the current crop of filmmakers who honed their chops in animation aren’t the first to make the jump from sketchboards to stage boards. “My Man Godfrey” (1936) director Gregory La Cava originally started out adapting comic strips from Hearst newspapers into animated shorts before becoming one of the premier directors of live-action comic two-reelers during the 1920s. Decades later, he was followed by the esteemed careers of Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton, whose live-action work has long been informed by the same painterly eye as their animation.

03252010_AndrewAdamson.jpgAlthough Rob Minkoff hasn’t exactly set the world on fire since transitioning from directing “The Lion King” to blending live-action and animation with “Stuart Little” and its sequel, he did carve out a career path for “Shrek” co-director Andrew Adamson to follow, with Adamson bringing his technical savvy to “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian” (not to mention his contribution as an executive producer on Lance Hammer’s “Ballast”).

Then there’s Adamson’s “Shrek” co-director Vicky Jenson, who made her live-action debut on last year’s CG-free Alexis Bledel comedy “Post Grad.” When asked about what the difference was between the two mediums, Jenson said, “The main thing I learned was to treat shooting the scenes as gathering pieces to work with later with my editor. I didn’t go to film school so I had a tendency, from my animation background, to ‘edit in the camera.’ This bugged my boss and mentor Ivan Reitman to no end when he saw the dailies.”

Of course, in recent years, this has been a two-way street, with Wes Anderson entering into the animated ranks with “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and legendary director of photography Roger Deakins consulting on the cinematography of “WALL-E” and, more recently, “How to Train Your Dragon.” And perhaps it was “The Triplets of Belleville” director Sylvain Chomet who found the perfect balance between animation and live-action with “Tour Eiffel,” his contribution to 2006’s “Paris, je t’aime,” that is almost too cartoonish to be real:

[Photo: Brad Bird on the set of “Ratatouille,” Pixar/Disney, 2007; Andrew Adamson on the set of “Prince Caspian,” Disney/Walden Media, 2008]


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.