DID YOU READ

“Catcher in the Rye” has (sort of) already been made into a movie.

“Catcher in the Rye” has (sort of) already been made into a movie. (photo)

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J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” has for near on 60 years now been winning over legions of teenagers who, reading it, think to themselves “I am Holden Caulfield.” Along with “Slaughterhouse-Five,” it’s a staple of teen alienation reading (and freshman English classes). In the horse race of youth unhappiness literature, “The Bell Jar” seems to have lost ground at some point.

Louis Menand once speculated in the New Yorker that most teachers hope to use the novel to communicate that “alienation is just a phase,” but I’ve always suspected kids love it because it addictively contextualizes and makes teen anomie seem smarter than it usually is.

Over at Salon, Matt Zoller Seitz runs through some of the reasons Salinger’s most popular novel should never be a movie. These include Salinger’s grudge against the film industry, partly stemming from a failed relationship with Eugene O’Neill’s daughter. The big point is fascinating — that Salinger’s antipathy towards an adaptation was so well-known that the book comes with the implicit promise that you’ll never have to measure your experience with it against a filmed version — it’ll be a perpetually personal experience.

06242010_igby.jpgBut I’d argue “Catcher in the Rye” is already a movie. I’m not talking about Wes Anderson’s admitted debt to Salinger’s work, populated as his films are with over-intelligent upper-class misfits. Class is key, something angry adolescents tend to gloss over. For better or worse, 2002’s “Igby Goes Down” is almost a straight adaptation; how Burr Steers didn’t get sued for his tale of a young snot hiding out in the city (for months rather than days) and brooding is beyond me. The details are his, but the contours are straight Holden — boy vs. world, floating through an undiagnosable disaffection.

I dig the movie, which, as a portrait of teen angst, is pretty sharp. “Igby” gives its titular protagonist (Kieran Culkin) a brother in the form of the peerlessly pompous Ryan Philippe, who Igby absolutely despises. In flashback, though, we learn that Philippe’s character is just as scarred by their dad’s mental breakdown as Igby, but has learned to deal with it in ways other than drug abuse and being a jerk to everyone.

It forces a sense of perspective into the narrative. “Catcher” seems unfilmable because — as Salinger wrote a producer — the trick’s in Holden’s language and the way he “can’t legitimately be separated from his own first-person technique.” Language makes bearable what could just be one massive snit; to film it (as “Igby” more or less does) requires more forceful narrative measures.

06242010_igbygoesdown3.jpg“Igby” is sensitive to class (and dispenses with the time setting altogether — another problem, since it’s hard to see a new movie willing to think hard about the post-WWII context and how it shapes Holden). It also drove some reviewers off the wall because it’s unbelievably bratty if you’re not sympathetic to its main character’s travails — the worst-case scenario of an adaptation, flattening Holden into just some whiny upper-class kid railing against nothing.

[Photos: “The Catcher In The Rye,” Little, Brown, 1951; “Igby Goes Down,” MGM, 2002]

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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.