DID YOU READ

Disc Covering: “I Think We’re Alone Now,” With Two Very Interesting People

Disc Covering: “I Think We’re Alone Now,” With Two Very Interesting People (photo)

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Human beings are bundles of contradictions. This week’s direct-to-DVD column is about a film that explores one contradiction fundamental to human life: our need to belong and fit in within a peer group on the one hand, and the need to feel like we’re special and stand out from the people around us on the other. It’s a documentary about two fans of the ’80s pop star Tiffany, though fans is too soft a word (and stalker may be too hard a word, since they don’t want to hurt Tiffany, just feel like she cares about them as deeply as they care about her).

Both of these people — a middle-aged man with Asperger Syndrome and an intersex woman in her thirties — are outsiders who have difficulty fitting into society. Becoming fans of Tiffany in the 1980s, when she was the epitome of the mainstream, was an attempt to be included in that society. Maintaining that fandom well into the 2000s and keeping up that fandom to the point that you know everything about her speaks to a need to feel unique: to be the best and biggest Tiffany fan in the world. So what happens when two “best and biggest” Tiffany fans meet? Tension, my friends. Sweet, fascinating tension.

I Think We’re Alone Now
Directed by Sean Donnelly

10122010_disccovering2.jpgTweetable Plot Synopsis: Interesting & kinda terrifying doc about 2 stalkerish fans of the ’80s pop icon Tiffany. Yes, apparently some people still care about her.

Biggest Success: Director Sean Donnelly has two fascinating subjects here: Jeff Turner, who’s been the past recipient of restraining orders from Tiffany because he’s done things like tried to give her a samurai sword, and Kelly McCormick, whose passion for all things Tiffany began after she had a vision about her during a coma after a near-fatal bike accident. But these characters’ frequently aberrant behavior could very easily make them the subject of ridicule, and turn “I Think We’re Alone Now” into a freak show. Thankfully, it is not. Donnelly manages to capture Turner and McCormick for good and for bad, and his camera is always sympathetic and never judgmental (though it’s occasionally embarrassed). It’s a moving portrait of two troubled people, a scary look at the dark, unhealthy side of fandom, and, yes, an occasionally funny story about the weird things they’re prone to do. (Sorry Jeff. Watching you strap on your “radionic psychotronic device” to commune spiritually with Tiffany cracked me up.)

Best Moment: Hard to pick one. The movie is just over an hour long, and many moments standout as perfect encapsulations of the characters’ warped worldviews. Maybe the most memorable is Jeff’s description to his Pastor — in front of the whole church! — of his trip to Glamourcon, which is described on the event’s website (which features ads for Playboy products) as a “celebration and marketplace of pin-up art & glamour,” but which is described by Jeff as a place to “renew friendships” with “erotic models” and “adult film stars.” And as Jeff narrates his experiences at Glamourcon to a visibly uncomfortable man of the cloth, Donnelly shows us his interactions at Glamourcon with several stars including a visibly uncomfortable Tiffany. My reaction to this incredible sequence? Visible discomfort.

10122010_disccovering3.jpg I Question: Though “I Think We’re Alone Now” is more of a pair of interlocking character studies, it does build to a climax of sorts: Jeff and Kelly meet in Las Vegas to attend a Tiffany concert. The film shows them speaking the telephone for the first time, carrying on an awkward conversation, then meeting in Vegas where they hang out and share a hotel room. The scenes are mesmerizing because of the tension that arises between the two — both want to envision themselves as the alpha dogs of Tiffany fandom, and neither is ready to share her with anyone — but Donnelly never explains how these two hooked up in the first place, and I question whether he didn’t connect them himself simply for the purpose of dramatic tension.

Lessons Learned: Never show up to a Tiffany concert early (especially on the West Coast) if you don’t want to have a conversation or ten with Jeff Turner.

10122010_disccovering4.jpgWorthy of a Theatrical Release? I can certainly understand why the film didn’t get one — it’s barely over an hour and it’s portrait of fandom is about as bleak, depressing, and uncomfortable as any documentary you will ever see. This is no “Trekkies” where it’s cute to run a Star Trek dentistry or spend all your money on action figures. Jeff and Kelly have Tiffany and almost nothing else. They live alone on disability, have very few friends, and wait for the day when Tiffany will realize that she’s meant to be with them. But that’s exactly what makes this film worthy, if nothing else, of viewing by a wider audience regardless of the platform (and, hey, if you’ve got Netflix, you can watch it instantly right now). I guess we can just chalk that up to another contradiction.

For Further Viewing: watch Jeff Turner’s reaction to watching “I Think We’re Alone Now” for the very first time.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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