Facial hair, the secret to going from teen heartthrob to serious actor.

Facial hair, the secret to going from teen heartthrob to serious actor. (photo)

Posted by on

Regardless of how you feel about the “Twilight” franchise, it’s hard not to read Brooks Barnes’ brief New York Times profile of vampire heartthrob Robert Pattinson and not feel at least a little bad for the dude.

Pattinson’s apparently been reduced to giving interviews in “an outdoor nook surrounded by tall hedges” while noting how “The more you are exposed, the more people irrationally hate you.” (Yes.) Whatever you think of him as an actor, here’s a guy who has become famous for a franchise that, when it’s done, will leave him with one defining image for the next 50 years unless he pulls out some kind of miraculous transition.

To prove his point, Barnes calls on academic Jeanine Basinger, who names a bunch of teen stars who never got past their defining moments in cuteness — “The Blue Lagoon”‘s Christopher Atkins, Corey Feldman, potentially Zac Efron — and cited the inevitable exception, Leonardo DiCaprio, whose success, we’re told, was in part due to “picking gritty roles and teaming with Martin Scorsese.”

In truth, it had more to do with his shaving habits.

06212010_gangs.jpg“Titanic” is cited as the turning point in DiCaprio’s career. It made the equally swoony success of “Romeo + Juliet” look like a joke. This, however, was after a number of tough roles — “This Boy’s Life,” “The Basketball Diaries,” “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” — that had already shown the young actor’s range and stamina for mentally exhausting parts. Compared to them, “Titanic” was a piece of cake, the toughest bit being the physical conditions. A number of post-“Titanic” career stumbles later, DiCaprio hit his stride in 2002 with “Gangs of New York” and “Catch Me If You Can” and never looked back.

DiCaprio’s greasy hair and face made sense for “Gangs,” which took place back in the days when a man wasn’t a man unless he demonstrated that he had enough testosterone to grow a full pate’s worth of hair on his face (although Daniel Day-Lewis’ mustache still towered over DiCaprio’s scraggly growth).

Subsequently, DiCaprio has proven constitutionally incapable of appearing clean-shaven on screen unless the part is set in the earlier days of the 20th century (“The Aviator,” “ReservationRevolutionary Road”), where facial hair was for social reprobates and other marginal types. This has nothing to do with his performances, and it tends to make him look jowly and pissed-off, but it’s certainly been a good way of avoiding charges that he’s too much of a man-child. If Michael Cera wanted to get haters off his back, seemingly all he’d have to do is grow a solid goatee.

06212010_littleashes.jpgWhich is to say: hello Mr. Pattinson. Do you want to be taken seriously? Grow some facial hair! Preferably the type that looks careless rather than elegant (or hilarious, in the case of his role as Salvador Dalí in “Little Ashes”).

It worked so well for DiCaprio. And just marvel at how far we’ve come since Alec Baldwin allegedly refusing to shave off his beard for “The Edge” back in 1997 almost destroyed a movie.

[Photos: “Twilight,” Summit Entertainment, 2008; “Gangs of New York,” Miramax, 2002]


New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

Posted by on

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.

Posted by on
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.

Posted by on
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.