How Dennis Hopper, Natasha Richardson and others are re-animated.

How Dennis Hopper, Natasha Richardson and others are re-animated. (photo)

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Before Dennis Hopper passed away this weekend at the age of 74, you probably hadn’t heard of “Alpha and Omega,” the animated film that will be the legendary actor’s final performance. In it, he’ll voice a wolf named Tony, the elder statesman of a pack missing two of its younger wolves (voiced by Hayden Panettiere and Justin Long) who are relocated and must find their way back home.

It probably wasn’t the final performance that Hopper envisioned for himself, despite the fact that its trailer contains a reminder of his “Easy Rider” glory days with a watered down “Born to be Wild” cover as its soundtrack. The film did allow the actor a chance to not worry about his physical appearance and with the time it takes to produce an animated feature, his work could be finished long before the rest of it could be completed. The latter is a reason why many actors have been known to make their final on-screen appearance without ever showing their face.

A month prior to “Alpha and Omega”‘s theatrical release in September, the late Natasha Richardson will have her final screen credit in August’s non-animated “The Wildest Dream,” in which she voices Ruth Mallory, the wife of famed mountaineer George, in a documentary about his doomed 1924 climb of Mount Everest. Richardson’s voice will accompany her real-life husband Liam Neeson, who serves as the film’s narrator, and the film has been dedicated to her, a classy send-off for a classy actress.

06012010_OrsonWellesTransformers.jpgOthers haven’t been as lucky. The most infamous posthumous performance would have to be Orson Welles, who lent his stentorian voice to 1986’s “Transformers: The Movie” for Unicron, the gigantic, world-consuming fallen god whose lips didn’t move. (He would also appear in Henry Jaglom’s 1987 drama “Someone to Love,” but completed the voice work for “Transformers” days before he died.)

Likewise, the brilliant Anne Bancroft suffered the indignity of having her final performance arrive in “Delgo,” the dead-on-arrival sci-fi epic that was released three years after her death and was notable only for the fact that it was dedicated to her, had the worst wide release of any movie ever and bore some similarities to “Avatar.”

And we’re still waiting on Marlon Brando’s last hurrah in “Big Bug Man,” which fulfilled the actor’s dream of playing a woman; for the film in which he plays Mrs. Sour, a candy factory proprietor, Brando reportedly wore a dress and a blond wig to record his part less than a month before he passed in 2004.

Incidentally, the most elegant tribute to a late voice actor perhaps came with someone who wasn’t a household name, but was famous in animation circles — Joe Ranft, who was a key part of Pixar’s creative team as a storyboard artist before dying tragically in a car accident in 2005, had three parts in 2005’s “Cars” and received a brief montage of the various characters he voiced in other films (Heimlich in “A Bug’s Life,” Wheezy the Penguin in “Toy Story 2”) in his honor during the closing credits (see the below video at the 1:14 mark).

Ranft, who was credited as a co-director with John Lasseter on the film, surely had many other great films in him at the time of his untimely death, but was afforded something too few others receive: a chance to go out on top.

[Photos: “Crash,” Lionsgate, 2008; “Alpha and Omega,” Lionsgate, 2010; “F for Fake,” Janus Films, 1973; “Transformers: The Movie,” DEG, 1986]


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.