DID YOU READ

Reconciling the Brett Ratner who loves movies with the one who makes movies.

Reconciling the Brett Ratner who loves movies with the one who makes movies. (photo)

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Brett Ratner hasn’t directed a movie since 2007’s “Rush Hour 3,” but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been busy. Last week, he was out bolstering the legacy of an underappreciated actor with the HBO documentary he produced, “I Knew It Was You: Rediscovering John Cazale”.

At the same time, Ratner once again became the scourge of film fans everywhere when Guillermo del Toro unexpectedly departed “The Hobbit,” as it was his name who came up frequently as the prime example of who shouldn’t take over the franchise. (Never mind that he didn’t express interest in directing it, nor did anyone ask him to.) He stoked the fires further by announcing he’s producing an “edgier and modernized spin” on “Snow White.”

In a film world where little can be agreed upon, there’s a general consensus that Ratner is the mainstream director whose mise en scène is closest to Satan’s. He has defenders — newly installed New York Film Society associate program director Scott Foundas once spent 7,050 words extolling his virtues as “The Popcorn King” in L.A. Weekly. But by and large, Ratner is seen as the guy who killed the Hannibal Lecter and X-Men franchises, damn near did the same to Superman before Bryan Singer had the chance and remains the ever-lingering threat to fanboys everywhere as the hack studios hire when they have no interest in creativity.

06042010_Kites.jpgThe tragedy is that it’s hard to find a guy that loves movies more, at least if he’s to be judged by his actions away from the camera. Besides finding the money and helping director Richard Shepard with the hard-to-get clips of “The Godfather” star Cazale for the aforementioned doc, Ratner also had a well-publicized hand in “remixing” “Kites,” the Bollywood romantic action thriller that he was hired to tighten up for American audiences.

The result was the first Bollywood film to crack the U.S. box office top ten, and whether or not Ratner was responsible, his involvement was likely what ensured it got a wide enough release to make the mark. Likewise, when he discovered some of his favorite film-related interview books — like James Toback’s Jim Brown bio “Jim” or Lawrence Grobel’s long-form interviews with Marlon Brando and Robert Evans — had gone out of print, he created his own publishing house Rat Press to put them back into circulation.

Ratner’s detractors could easily chalk this up to a desire to be taken seriously as opposed to demonstrating a genuine love of film. It’s a claim that can be backed up by the way he’s always dropping the names of more acclaimed filmmakers like Singer and Paul Thomas Anderson as close friends, or the ring of disingenuousness that comes with casually mentioning a Polish movie he saw as an inspiration without saying its name. (Admittedly, he has “the worst ADD.”) The same could be said for his penchant for surrounding himself with talent oversized for the films he’s making, whether it’s hiring legendary composer Lalo Schifrin to score “Money Talks” or convincing Max von Sydow and Roman Polanski to put in appearances for “Rush Hour 3”:

Yet it would seem that whatever are Ratner’s true motivations, he’s making the world of cinema a richer place, even if it’s not necessarily with the films he’s directing himself.

[Photos: Brett Ratner on the set of “Rush Hour 3,” New Line, 2007; Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut in “Kites,” Reliance BIG, 2010]

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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.