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“Edgar Wright Saves the World” at the L.A. Film Festival

“Edgar Wright Saves the World” at the L.A. Film Festival (photo)

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“I hope you guys aren’t frustrated that it’s J.J. interviewing me and not me interviewing J.J.,” joked Edgar Wright, sitting across from J.J. Abrams at the Los Angeles Film Festival for a two-hour plus conversation about his career. “And that at the end, you won’t get to ask him questions like ‘When the fuck is ‘Star Trek 2’ is coming out?'”

“We’re here for you, Edgar,” replied Abrams, without missing a beat. “It’s an intervention.”

Funny thing is it was the people in the audience who were the addicts, eager to see what proved to be nine minutes of footage from Wright’s latest “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” and a thorough career retrospective for a director who is only 36. Wright’s already earned a legion of fans with his comedies, which include the TV show “Spaced,” “Shaun of the Dead” and “Hot Fuzz.”

Count Abrams among them, as the “Alias”/”Star Trek” mastermind barely referenced his own experiences in the industry, instead firing off one burning question after another to Wright with a boyish, geeky enthusiasm. (One of the highlights of the night was Abrams interrupting the answer to an unrelated question just to ask Wright which was his favorite scene in “Evil Dead 2.” Answer: The 20-minute sequence of Bruce Campbell alone.)

While there were plenty of amusing stories and insights during the evening, from Wright’s dismay at a wrap party for “Spaced” where his cameraman told him “I don’t think there’s a single bit of this I’d put on my showreel” to the elation of having George Romero love “Shaun of the Dead” — (“He watched it on his own with a bodyguard from Universal. I love the idea that George Romero would pirate the film himself. He’s quite entitled to have the residuals from it.”), what follows is a recreation of some of the best bits in Wright’s own words for those who couldn’t make it to the sold out discussion, including thoughts on “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World.”

“Dead Right” (1993)

Wright won a video camera on the British TV show “Comic Relief” when he was 16 and “made a superhero film, a western, a video version of the film I then made on 16mm (‘Fistful of Fingers’) and then this, the last one, which might look familiar if you’re a ‘Hot Fuzz’ fan,” since it was shot using many of the same locations in Wright’s hometown of Somerset. While the full clip Wright showed isn’t online, here’s a taste of his first foray into the world of hard-boiled cops and criminals and an anecdote about shooting a violent film in public.

Wright: That playground you could only get in from 6:30 to 9 before the kids turned up and then like 6:30 till 9 after the kids are gone. And it was not dissimilar to shooting ‘Hot Fuzz,’ where we didn’t really have all the streets locked down, so three 18-year-olds with guns and fake blood and knives weren’t really supposed to be in a children’s playground. (laughs) I remember one shot where the cop is standing there with blood all over him and a gun. This old man came up to him, not seeing me or the camera, and he said, “you can’t play with guns in a children’s park!” [Wright and his actor explained,] “No, we’re making a film. No, it’s not real. It’s fake blood, it’s a fake gun. This is a water pistol.” [They pleaded with the man, explaining to him that it’s fake, before the man snorted,] “Well, grow up then.” And stormed off.

06222010_FistfulofFingers.jpg“Fistful of Fingers” (1995)

Wright was just three weeks out of art college when he decided to shoot his first proper feature on £11,000 and a 21-day schedule, inspired by the low-budget DIY style of Peter Jackson’s “Bad Taste” and Robert Rodriguez’s “El Mariachi.” Though one of his professors warned, “don’t do a spoof as your first film; do something original,” Wright made this Western send-up that was a remake of one of his earlier shorts shot on video. He realized during editing, “There was a lot of nice stuff in it, it wasn’t as funny as the Video 8 one and trying to reshoot the same gags with the same people in the same locations, just the spirit of it was lost along the way.” He didn’t bring a clip of the film to show, but he did speak about its critical reaction.

Wright: I guess it got released in a cinema, not in cinemas. The weird thing was it came out the same weekend as “GoldenEye.” Even though it was on one screen, as happens in the UK, it got reviewed everywhere and some people gave it a good review, like the Evening Standard and the Telegraph, but then Empire magazine, which I collected since issue one, gave it one star. Being a 21-year-old and reading that was just crushing — I thought ohhhhh noooo. Even being at the shop, looking at all the magazines and reading that, I still had to buy it. I threw out all my Empires except for that one. That’s my picture of Dorian Gray; I had to keep the one with the review of “Fistful of Fingers.”

I think if it ever got released on DVD, I’d like to do a lot of supplementary material as some kind of cautionary tale. I probably make too much of a meal of it being bad, as well as the one-star review… and this is the thing with the “GoldenEye” thing, you will be judged against other films. I kind of thought ‘well, “GoldenEye” cost like $100 million. You can’t be reviewed against that.’ No, that doesn’t happen.

There was a good review in a listings magazine. I was completely broke at the time and unemployed. After reading the Empire one seeing a good review is like finding the golden ticket inside the Wonka Bar. I found the magazine, I had no money and I stole the magazine.

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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.