DID YOU READ

Will Gluck Makes Comedy Look “Easy,” Eh?

Will Gluck Makes Comedy Look “Easy,” Eh? (photo)

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For a comedy about rumors and innuendo, it is all too appropriate that “Easy A” has raised eyebrows as a selection at the Toronto Film Festival, a place not known for celebrating high-school-set satires. But it shouldn’t take long for cynics to discover the truth of why it belongs more in the festival than the genre: it’s exceptional.

Of course, the reasons for this have been hiding in plain sight. “Easy A” is driven in no small part by a starmaking turn from Emma Stone (“Zombieland”) who finally finds a character as rich and complex as her distinctively raspy voice in the perpetually misunderstood Olive Pendergast, a high schooler in the desert town of Ojai that, emboldened by an English class assignment of “The Scarlet Letter,” becomes a savior of her fellow virgins and outcasts when she decides to embrace hallway chatter that she’s a harlot. Collecting gift cards from her pretend conquests who just want to fit in, along with the dirty looks from the school’s religious sect, Olive is quick-witted yet still can’t stay ahead of the speed of gossip and keenly aware that this screenplay is not to her liking, she longs for her “life to be like an ’80s movie.”

09022010_WillGluckEasyA.jpgEnter the film’s other secret weapon, writer/director Will Gluck, who has openly professed to wanting to make a film that “John Hughes wouldn’t be embarrassed to watch.” Which the “Breakfast Club” mastermind likely would, appreciating both “Easy A”‘s invocation of his early-career irreverence and “Brat Pack”-era sincerity (not to mention the “Ferris Bueller” references, of which there are no fewer than 10). Yet Gluck has his own unique perspective, a style rare among modern comic directors that places equal value on visual panache as punchlines and veers between rude non-sequiturs and gently subversive skewering of pop culture. It’s a mix of the silly and the sweet that’s perhaps kept his fan club a little exclusive — go ahead and be shocked how funny his first film “Fired Up” actually is — but that’s about to change.

In the middle of preparing for a crazy week that will have Gluck shuttling between the set of his next film, the Justin Timberlake-Mila Kunis romantic comedy “Friends With Benefits” and the film’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, the director talked about hatching the next Julia Roberts, having friends “pay for sex,” and his one regret about the film.

09022010_EasyA5.jpgWhat’s incredible about your career thus far is that you’ve been able to translate the off-kilter tone of your TV work [“Andy Richter Controls the Universe” and “The Loop”] into films, even if they weren’t necessarily commercially successful. How is it that you’ve been allowed to be so independent within the studio system under Sony?

I met a guardian angel in [Screen Gems president] Clint Culpepper. “Fired Up” was his idea…not his, it was the studio’s idea, but his title and he let me make the movie. And I had some success in television, but for some reason, he took a leap of faith and one thing Clint does is once he trusts someone’s tone…comedy is all about tone, it’s subjective – good or not, who knows? Once he picks someone’s tone, he just let me go. He just didn’t interfere. He knew what I did and accepted it and then “Easy A,” he was just like “Here, see you later, buddy.”

There’s a reason why I continue to do movies at Sony for Amy [Pascal], Michael [Lynton] and Clint. As a filmmaker, it’s the best situation in the world to be in because they give me everything I want, all the support they want, all the ideas they want… I mean they’re great ideas. There’s such an adversarial relationship with studio executives, but when you find someone who is as passionate and as smart as the people at Sony and Clint, it’s the best. So I’m never going to leave unless they kick me out, which might happen. [slight laugh]

Are you excited about playing the Toronto Film Festival? It’s not the type of film that normally goes.

I know, right? I am excited about Toronto. I’m in the middle of shooting my movie, but I’m thrilled and ridiculously humbled. I’m shocked at the response this is getting. I really believe a lot of the response is because of Emma Stone. I think that people are watching Julia Roberts about to be hatched and they want to get onboard.

Did you know you had something special with “Easy A,” particularly with Emma Stone?

Like the old adage, no one ever sets out to make a bad movie. I just pour myself into everything I do, failure, success. I did know Emma was special from the very beginning and I’ve had the same crew forever, they’ve seen a lot. They do four movies a year, right? They knew. And when she came back yesterday [on “Friends With Benefits”], they were like, “oh my God, we’d forgotten.” There’s something about her, yeah.

09022010_EasyA2.jpgYou’ve talked about having an unusual high school experience, which was split between schools in New York and Tokyo. How do you think that perspective shaped the film?

The high schools I went to were big city high schools, which are much different than a lot of schools in America because in New York City when you leave the high school at three o’clock and you slip off into the subway, you’re gone. No one cares on the subway that you looked at a girl that didn’t like you in math class. You completely become your own person. But in small-town schools like most of America, you can’t escape it because you go into town and everyone knows who you are and it’s suffocating.

So I’ve always been kind of intrigued and idolized normal high schools, especially because my view of a high school has always been John Hughes’ high school. That’s what I thought high school was. So I really tried to in “Easy A” make that high school and it’s interesting that Emma, who also left high school very early, also didn’t have a normal high school experience, so this movie was made by two people whose whole view of high school was kind of through a cinematic lens.

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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.