DID YOU READ

Dede Allen, 1923-2010.

Dede Allen, 1923-2010. (photo)

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Dede Allen, who died over the weekend of a stroke at the age of 86, thought of herself as a “gut editor.” In a quote from Mark Harris’s book “Pictures at a Revolution,” about the Academy Award nominees for Best Picture in 1967, Allen succinctly explained her technique. “Intellect and taste count,” she said, “but I cut with my feelings.” The movie Allen cut in 1967 (with her feelings as well as her intelligence and a great deal of innovation) was “Bonnie and Clyde,” and though her work was inexplicably unrewarded by the Academy, it was one of the primary reasons the film became an important and influential movie. The sequence where Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow meet their bloody end remains one of the most justly famous scenes in cinematic history. Some of its shock value has been lost in 40-plus years and many have imitated its techniques (particularly its blend of shots of different frame rates to elongate its eruption of violence), few have matched its power or its bloody beauty:

From the moment Clyde steps out of his car to the overhead shot of the two lifeless bodies is about one minute and three seconds. In that time, there are 60 cuts, a particularly impressive number when you consider that Allen assembled the sequence long before digital editing, piecing together actual segments of celluloid, a few frames at a time. After a long, successful career as an editor and a period as an executive for Warner Brothers, Allen learned to edit on an Avid, and used it on Curtis Hanson’s “Wonder Boys” (that time, she got an Oscar nomination). While no one would dispute computers make editing easier, Allen didn’t necessarily find them superior.

04192010_TheHustler.jpgIn a 2000 interview for Movie Picture Editors Guild Magazine, she told Mia Goldman that the classic techniques had their advantages. “The greatest disadvantage [to digital editing] I can think of is that you don’t screen your material as much as you used to.” she said. “I’d do a lot of memorizing and somehow the availability of the exact pieces that I had memorized made the process seem, ironically, more immediate.”

According to the Los Angeles Times’ obituary for Allen, she got her start in the movie business as a messenger at Columbia Pictures. Though she dreamed of being a director, she worked her way up as a cutter in the special effects department. She eventually began editing commercials then graduated to feature films as the cutter on films like Robert Wise’s “Odds Against Tomorrow” (1959) and Robert Rossen’s “The Hustler” (1961). Soon came “Bonnie and Clyde” which, according to the Times, marked the first time in history an editor received sole credit for their contribution to a film.

Her filmography also includes Sidney Lumet’s “Serpico” (1973) and “Dog Day Afternoon” (1975) and Warren Beatty’s “Reds” (1981); she received Oscar nominations for Best Editing for the last two. Though she’s now best remembered for “Bonnie and Clyde,” her most underrated work might have come in two classic, genre-defining comedies: George Roy Hill’s “Slap Shot” (1977) and John Hughes’s “The Breakfast Club” (1985). Every American teenager since then has watched the latter; most of them have studied and then imitated the famous dance sequence, brilliantly edited by Allen to Karla DeVito’s song “We Are Not Alone”:

Here’s a classic scene from “Slap Shot.” The biggest laugh in the clip isn’t the fighting, or the dialogue — it’s a single, sudden jump cut from the brawl to the aftermath (look for it at the 1:40 mark):

In the interview with Goldman, Allen was asked what advice she had for editors. She said, “I would give the same advice I gave in the old days which is learn where the scene is.” In the flash of glances between lovers in the split-second before their death, or the angry glare of a ref to a hockey goon, in dozens of movies, hundreds of scenes, thousands of cuts, Allen always found it.

[Photos: Dede Allen during the production of “Reds,” Paramount Pictures, 1981; “The Hustler,” 20th Century Fox, 1961]

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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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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.

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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.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

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.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.