3D is not going to replace A-list actors.

3D is not going to replace A-list actors. (photo)

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When it comes to discussing 3D, there are three main talking points. There’s the ranting about the differences between cheap 3D/post-2D conversions (there’s more dissection of that aspect of “Clash of the Titans” than actual reviews of the film). Then there’s the discussions about how many 3D movies there are, how much money they’re making and if they’re here to stay. And, finally, there’s the worrying over whether or not cheap spectacle will kill off story and actors.

The latest manifestation is the subject of a Patrick Goldstein think-piece in the LA Times. Goldstein wonders if 3D will make movie stars “obsolete,” giving as evidence an anonymous studio executive who claims that a business split between under-$30 million specialty films and big tentpoles “essentially puts a tax on 2D dramas, romantic comedies and other projects, since they just won’t project the same kind of box-office potential.”

This is probably true, and it’s another example of short-sighted thinking in a business already full of it. If, say, Sam Worthington is the new face of anonymous blockbuster stardom, that’s perfectly fine. All the new 3D movies are inherently high-concept (gods and monsters! piranhas!), so they don’t need major, expensive stars to succeed. But after one too many lousy spectacles, this will backfire, and then what?

The blockbusters of the last decade have studiously worked on eliminating the need for name actors, initially to balance out expensive effects (as with “Lord of the Rings”), then as standard operating procedure. The argument is that these tentpole films generally hit their financial goals, while recent flops like “State of Play,” “Imagine That,” “The Taking of Pelham 123” and so on prove that stardom’s pull at the box office is dead — even though, say, Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington made $266 million with “American Gangster” a mere three years ago.

04062010_piranha.jpgMost big stars have had off-and-on careers — think of Sylvester Stallone’s multiple resurrections, Schwarzenegger’s bounce back from “The Last Action Hero” to “Eraser,” etc. But whatever! Stardom is dead! Oh, and Mike Myers is still getting paid ridiculous amounts of money to voice “Shrek,” which is an animated movie that no little kid would possibly see only because of his involvement. And the newly rediscovered women’s picture succeeds because of leads like Meryl Streep. But stardom is dead!

The problem with this kind of myopic thinking is that after the 3D thing shakes itself down — with all those projectors installed, it won’t die — you’ll still need something besides the promise of flying objects to sell a movie. Then you can make a movie like “Shutter Island,” which succeeded solely because of the star-power of Scorsese and DiCaprio. Diversification is key, as in any business. It’s remarkable how often Hollywood seems to forget that, and keeping different kinds of stars in the stable — your comedians, charismatic action stars, dramatic barn-stormers and so on — is key. This thinking, too, shall pass.

The real question: when’s that 3D porn boom coming?

[Photos: “State of Play,” Universal, 2009; “Piranha 3-D,” Dimension Films, 2010]


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.