DID YOU READ

The unexpected cult status of Peyton Reed’s “Bring It On.”

The unexpected cult status of Peyton Reed’s “Bring It On.” (photo)

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The New Beverly in Los Angeles is hosting a tenth anniversary midnight screening of “Bring It On,” this weekend. By virtue of being better than it needs to be, “Bring It On” is one of the few studio teen films of the last decade to earned non-studio-manufactured goodwill, a small cult of genuine affection.

Part of that has to do with its relatively sharp craft, and part has to do with director Peyton Reed, who was, for a while, a rising young auteur and whose career might, at any moment, resurge unexpectedly.

Reed’s directed music videos (he did three for Superchunk) as well as a few episodes of “Mr. Show” and all (!) of “The Weird Al Show.” “Bring It On” was his feature debut, one of those “most pleasant surprise of summer” type movies.

While Reed won’t be making it to the screening, he did do an interview with Aint It Cool News talking about “Bring It On”‘s nervous conception. The main question, he reveals, was thinking about how to push the sexual aspects while keeping a PG-13 rating: “You cannot separate sexuality from cheerleading,” he notes. “It is inherently what it is – growing up with the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and all of that stuff. But it’s kind of a dangerous thing to do when you’re making a studio, PG-13 movie and trying to push the sexuality.”

07152010_downwithlove.jpgDespite this, he and editor Larry Bock — unpretentious veteran of “Rambo: First Blood Part II,” “Breakin'” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” — watched ’70s cheerleader exploitation movies while editing. The relatively low-budget film ($28 million) was a sleeper hit ($90 million worldwide); like “American Pie,” it spawned four increasingly shoddy direct-to-video sequels with little discernible relation to each other.

That minor success seemingly gave Reed the carte blanche to make “Down With Love,” as obsessive an homage to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson sex comedies as Todd Haynes’ “Far From Heaven” was to Sirk — with slightly broader sex jokes. The production design is glossy, the frame of reference specific, but both movies play like musicals without the musical numbers. If they’re too bright and shiny to be subtle, they’re bouncy enough to achieve a sort of grace.

The interview glosses over Reed’s post-“Bring It On” career, which is a shame. “The Break-Up” isn’t fun to watch, but it’s unexpectedly scabrous for what should’ve been a light summer romance. (The New Yorker‘s Richard Brody actually compared it to Sirk.)

07152010_break.jpgIn Reed’s telling, Vince Vaughn’s storytelling ambitions, Jennifer Aniston’s post-Brad Pitt angst and Reed’s own relationship woes made for a film that “can be very unpleasant to watch” but came from a place that “was very real to all of us at the time.” (The movie somehow made money anyway.)

The interview ends with the off-the-record-ish disclosure that Reed’s quitting comedy and working on vintage sci-fi. He’s obviously a cinephile and, if not turning out quite the type of films that get you deemed an auteur these days, is at least someone trying to make formulaic comedies and dramas seem fresh again.

Here’s one of Reed’s Superchunk videos (co-directed with Phil Morrison) that turns the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” mosh pit and thrashing into a more innocent pillow fight, complete with milk and cookies:

[Photos: “Bring It On,” Universal, 2000; “Down With Love,” Twentieth Century Fox, 2003; “The Break-Up,” Universal, 2006]

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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.