Danny Huston Does the Boogie Woogie

Danny Huston Does the Boogie Woogie (photo)

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You might imagine there’s a lot to live up to in a showbiz career when your half-sister, father and grandfather have each won at least one Academy Award, but one peek at Danny Huston’s acting résumé (“The Proposition,” “Birth,” “The Aviator,” “Children of Men”) illustrates he’s primed to take over the family business. (And for those wondering, the aforementioned relatives are Angelica, John and Walter.)

Armed with his sharp ear for dialects and a bigger-than-life screen presence, Huston commands the room in director Duncan Ward’s star-studded “Boogie Woogie,” an art-world satire adapted by Danny Moynihan from his own novel. Huston stars as London gallery kingpin Art Spindle, whose over-the-top laughter infects several storylines involving rabid collectors, opportunistic assistants, oversexed conceptual artists and the titular Mondrian painting, prized among the scenesters. Sipping on Arnold Palmers in the lobby of Manhattan’s Bowery Hotel, Huston and I discussed Art — both with a capital “A” and the lowercase kind — and filmmaking advice given to him by his legendary pop.

Even with a stellar cast that includes Stellan Skarsgård, Alan Cumming and Amanda Seyfried, your performance is the ensemble’s most comically mannered. How did you develop him?

First is the laugh. That was very much written: H-A, H-A, H-A. It was something I saw on the page that could potentially trip me up, which I had to overcome. I found this laugh, which is, as you say, close to being pantomime. [laughs] Second were these Jay Jopling glasses, which are a signature. Combined with his avid appetite for art, you’re dealing with three broad strokes that define the character. So I tried to give him some humanity, but it is a little bit of a masquerade. He does, in a way, hide behind these characteristics, but underneath is a man who truly loves art. It’s not something that he’s doing for greed alone. He has a keen sense of what is beautiful, a taste that others rely on, but he can probably see further than that. That’s what makes him buoyant. [laughs]

04212010_DannyHustonBoogieWoogie4.jpgHow would you describe your own taste for art?

Well, I went to art school. I resisted the film business as long as I could, because of the big circus act and the amount of money that it costs to make films — I saw my father suffer through that. I loved painting and drawing for many reasons. One of them was that all it really required was me, a pencil and a pad. It was something I was passionate about, and still am. But then I went to these gallery openings, drank too much warm white wine, and realized that there was just as much bullshit involved as in the film business. I finally relented and went to film school.

I was around during the Tracey Emin times, and I know Damien Hirst, so I understand that scene. Danny [Moynihan’s] book was originally set in New York and the script translated it to London, so I thought it possibly gave a fresher look because the New York scene had been so investigated, opened up with a scalpel, and prodded to just about every area. Danny Moynihan and Duncan Ward both live in London, so it hopefully had a genuine quality, even though it is a satire.

But to answer your original question, I like anything where I see vigor and life, and where I feel there’s something that I connect with, that’s speaking to me in whatever form may come.

Why is the ridiculousness of modern art and its surrounding scene still such a ripe target since, as you say, it has already been done from so many angles?

I suppose, primarily, it’s the amount of money spent. Want those butterflies or dots that Damien Hirst produces so eloquently — you better have a couple million to spare. Especially in this day and age, it immediately makes you reevaluate what it all means. The status of owning a piece like this is, at times, comparable to the grotesque. [laughs] I don’t think it’s difficult to observe it with humor, but also a certain amount of horror.

04212010_DannyHustonBoogieWoogie7.jpgHaving said that, what’s been invested in producing these works as far as where the artist has come from and how he’s got there is also what you’re buying. There’s the famous Tracey Emin bed, which has condoms and whiskey bottles and stains. It’s certainly something that, if not one’s mother, one’s grandmother would immediately want to get out of the house and start to tidy up. When you start to observe these pieces with an educated eye and understand what these works mean, then it opens up a whole other world, not one to ridicule. There’s a point where art is not subjective, and my example for that is Picasso. If you don’t like Picasso, that’s your problem. [laughs]


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.