DID YOU READ

Debra Granik’s “Bone” to Pick

Debra Granik’s “Bone” to Pick (photo)

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A rich and unsparing look at the indomitable survival instincts of a teenage girl in one of America’s most blighted regions, “Winter’s Bone” stunned audiences during its Sundance debut, taking home the Grand Jury Prize for drama. Part cultural study and part clannish thriller, it focuses on the week in which 17-year-old Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) searches desperately for her father, who is on the run from meth-related charges and has used the family’s home and property as bond collateral.

Working from Missourian Daniel Woodrell’s 2006 novel, director Debra Granik was determined to keep the story close to home, shooting in Missouri with a cast filled out by locals. I spoke with her about the pressure of bringing a festival favorite to audiences around the country, how genres impose themselves in the editing room, and the oddity of talking about the Ozarks in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria.

How does your excitement level for the film’s release compare to that of its Sundance debut? Is either one more nerve-wracking? How’s your stress level?

The whole thing is nerve-wracking, for sure. It’s a weird feeling — first of all, so many people collaborate to make a film, so it is very sweet for those people to see that the finished result is being recognized in the world. Then on a base level, you’re creating a product, so you want your contract to be renewed! All filmmakers want the option to make another film, to have it not always be such an uphill battle — for it to be our life, our working life. So the gnashing tension for me is more related to — people might like it critically, but then it’s on the auction block.

06112010_WintersBone2.jpgI’ve already experienced an amazing boost in my confidence by having an earlier film [“Down to the Bone”] recognized, but it didn’t have a commercial life. It’s very hard to keep showing up somewhere — the pressure had doubled. I was worried I was going to be the wallflower, like: “Nice film–“

“Thanks for coming!”

Thanks for coming — sorry we can’t do anything with it. We were just hoping someone would step up to distribute the film. And now, with the actual opening this weekend, I have that same gnashing feeling. Roadside Attractions has done a beautiful job trying to get the word out. They’ve done almost everything you can do. And yet it’s just like any other consumer process, where a customer ends up dictating, in a very tried and true way, what will happen. And that’s unnerving — even more people have invested their time and energy, not to mention financial resources, and putting out a poster, reserving theaters–

[gestures around the room] And the Waldorf Astoria!

I know! I know. I need to discuss that with them because I feel like the disparity between where some of this [publicity] stuff is happening and the nature of the film is a little weird. And yet I’ve also been told that in certain cities, facilities are willing, and set up, to do this sort of thing, it’s a system they have in place. So [the publicists] don’t have to walk a hotel through it, it’s a system that they have.

06112010_WintersBone3.jpgOh yeah, it’s totally standard.

I’ve never been inside here either. It has a very historical feeling, doesn’t it? Even some of the unappealing, lugubrious parts of it are interesting — the weight of a certain style, the heaviness that was considered the only hallmark of excellence.

After “Down to the Bone,” were you actively looking at secondary material for a subject or did you come across Daniel Woodrell’s book by chance? How did you find it?

Anne [Rosellini, Granik’s writing and producing partner] and I were searching for a story that had a female protagonist that we were not just drawn to, but one we felt had a full life, a full set of attributes — not just one thing she had to rest upon. There are so many of those, certainly in the large script circulation world. We were getting lots of stories about young women, but they were often about the things that go very wrong in life — I call them female pathologies.

It was like there’s a list: what makes women interesting on screen is if they can overcome something very bad in their past, if they escape abuse, if they overcome a very bad psychiatric condition, some kind of disorder.

06112010_wintersbone.jpgWe were feeling like, this can’t be the totality of what women’s lives are like on screen, or of women’s experiences. And so it was so refreshing to see [a character] with a certain kind of determination, and we loved how she responded to people — you couldn’t predict her responses because she related very differently to different characters.

Was there any talk of including Woodrell in the collaboration on the script?

He was very open — in retrospect, we might find it completely uncharacteristic — but he understood that when a book has its next reincarnation, that it will be different. Real locations will now be the visual evidence of something he conjured. We tried to match very vividly the kind of house Ree Dolly lived in, and we found places that felt right, where my brain would believe that this could be Ree Dolly’s house.

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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.