Andy Serkis’ “Rock & Roll” Lifestyle

Andy Serkis’ “Rock & Roll” Lifestyle (photo)

Posted by on

“The only thing I’ve ever missed is a few buses,” says Ian Dury, as played by Andy Serkis, in “sex & drugs & rock & roll.” The film’s a biopic about the often decadent, sometimes tragic and altogether rocking lead singer for the Blockheads, one of the first to fuse together rap, rock, reggae and funk to become a sensation in the U.K. It’s no surprise then that Serkis doesn’t miss a trick in portraying the frontman, who’s hobbled by childhood bout with polio, but more than makes up for it with a life spent between two women — his wife (Olivia Williams) and his girlfriend (Naomie Harris) — not to mention an overindulgence on available drugs and alcohol, and a flamboyant personality that he attempts to tame in front of his young son (Bill Milner).

Although the actor, best known for suiting up in performance capture gear to portray Gollum and King Kong, underwent a considerable transformation to play Dury, equal attention is paid by director Mat Whitecross to retrofitting the traditional rock biopic, filling the film with animation, underwater musical sequences and a criss-crossing narrative that ricochets between Dury’s days of rebelling against authority in school to becoming an authority on the British scene. During the Tribeca Film Festival, Serkis and Whitecross sat down to discuss the film, the unexpected difficulties of hair in a rock movie, and I even got the “Lord of the Rings” star to talk about the studio he’s creating for motion capture.

The film unfolds almost like a collage and seems true to Dury’s passion for many artistic mediums. How important was it to have pop art blended into the film so seamlessly?

Mat Whitecross: That’s exactly what we were trying to go for, partly because he has such a kaleidoscopic life anyway, but also really because he was influenced by pop art, especially Peter Blake, who he studied under.

04292010_sexDrugsRockRoll.jpgOne of the issues with doing a low-budget film is you want to try and represent a whole era, but you don’t have the money and the size of crew to be able to do that. You can’t try and recreate ’70s Camden, so what other way can you give a new audience a flavor of those times? [The animation] felt like the most succinct way of doing it and we were lucky enough to get the great Sir Peter Blake to work on those sequences with our team.

With pop art in general, we wanted to give this film a distinctive look and it just made sense, given that art was an important part of Ian’s life, but couldn’t really be part of the script since there were too many other things to talk about. It felt like even if it’s subconscious, at least you’re getting it and then if you go back and rediscover the albums or his life and look at his work and his paintings, then it’ll all kind of click into place.

Andy, I read that you wore a caliper for months to achieve Ian’s limp. Was the physicality a place where you started for this role since it plays such a huge role in his life?

Andy Serkis: It wasn’t a place I started, no. It’s a place it was necessary to get to and get through. I started at a kind of producer/storytelling level, in terms of how to pull the whole thing together. It was a two-step process, really. It was understanding what the story was about and working with Paul [Viragh, the screenwriter] closely on the emotional core of the film and the father and son relationship — those were our starting points. The fact that we wanted to present Ian as the teller of his own story in a musical environment, that’s for me where the characterization starts. It morphed gradually into the physical preparation — obviously, the closer you get to the shoot, there were certain things you had to do, to lose weight and to work with the calipers and do all that to understand the physics of his disability and the psychology of living with it.

04292010_sexDrugsRockRoll.jpgThere’s a concert that is used as the film’s framing device — was that shot at the beginning of the production since it seems to have so much impact on what happens throughout?

MW: We wanted to do it upfront for precisely that reason, but unfortunately for scheduling reasons, primarily Andy’s hair, we couldn’t do it until the end of the shoot.

AS: It’s probably a good job actually because my voice was fucked up after that [laughs], which might’ve worked quite well.

MW: We scheduled all the scenes where he was speaking on the stage on the last day as well, so he was completely raw and ragged. We were very worried about it, but it actually gives it quite a nice fragile quality.


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

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.

Posted by on
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.

Posted by on
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.