The latest way to prove you’re a serious actress? Take your clothes off.

The latest way to prove you’re a serious actress? Take your clothes off. (photo)

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What would you expect a profile about a sexually volatile woman written by her ex (!) to be like? How about alternately salacious and bitter, punctuated by regular reminders of how she can’t manage her money?

Such is the case with Jay Bulger’s New York magazine feature on actress Paz de la Huerta, the thesis of which seems to be that “Paz da la Huerta enjoys taking off her clothes and recently realized other people enjoy this as well.”

That, in and of itself, seems neither unreasonable nor unfair. At the ripe old age of 25, Ms. de la Huerta primary commodities have so far proven to be beauty and fearlessness. She may, in fact, be a great actress, but it’s hard to tell. Her most important part to date (she has a major role in Gaspar Noé’s “Enter the Void,” out later this year), in “The Limits of Control,” involved her being naked all the time — and not much more. Her character’s name was “Nude.”

It’s fascinating that director Jim Jarmusch would say of de la Huerta “Nudity is her favorite wardrobe, her way of confronting her own fears head-on. And that’s what makes her a great actor.” And it’s also vaguely nonsensical.

The connotation between being a “serious actor” and getting naked is a recent and weird development. There was some pre-Code nudity (Fay Wray getting stripped by King Kong in 1933 was cut when it was re-issued), then it went dormant, re-emerging as a way to get people to see allegedly classy foreign films in the ’50s, brought into American film in the ’60s, brazenly prevalent in the ’80s and ’90s, and then — in studio filmmaking, obviously, but also in a lot of arthouse/indie fare — turning into a rare novelty, to the point where Halle Berry getting half a million for two seconds of toplessness in “Swordfish” was news. (Or not. Print the legend.)

06022010_jazz.jpgWatching a representative ’70s movie like “All That Jazz” is an exercise in seeing what it’s like when sexual barriers and modest norms get shattered; there was a ridiculous amount of casual nudity in ’70s Hollywood. Now it’s a thing to be commented upon. No less sober an auditor than the New York Times‘ A.O. Scott, reflecting on Greta Gerwig, couldn’t stop himself from noting that “when she takes off her clothes — which is not infrequently — it does not seem teasing or exhibitionistic but disarmingly matter-of-fact.”

There aren’t many well-known actresses who do this on a regular basis, and they’re not who you’d expect. No Megan Fox, but absolutely Naomi Watts, Anne Hathaway, Samantha Morton, Marisa Tomei, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Gerwig, who may not quality as “well-known” yet, but is on her way. (I’d address male nudity here, but now that Harvey Keitel keeps his pants on, the sampling’s basically down to Ewan McGregor and Jason Segal in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”)

All of those mentioned above are serious actresses (and Morton’s one of the most serious in the world). Meanwhile, the disreputable “T&A comedy” is deader than casual dramatic nudity. This is not a criticism: god knows writing this post without sounding like a creep has been hard enough. But if Jim Jarmusch wants to suggest that Paz de la Huerta is a great, fearless actress because she’s taking her clothes off, well, that’s become the connotation now. Nudity’s no longer what brings them in: it’s the thing that screams serious, chance-taking actor.

[Photos: “The Limits of Control,” Focus, 2009; “All That Jazz,” 20th Century Fox, 1979]


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.