DID YOU READ

Edgar Wright, Guillermo Del Toro and the Wonderful Afterlife of “Scott Pilgrim”

Edgar Wright, Guillermo Del Toro and the Wonderful Afterlife of “Scott Pilgrim” (photo)

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If “Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World” died at the box office this past August, it’s enjoying the heavenly embrace of its true fans now. During election season, one of the fiercest campaigns waged hasn’t been led by any political candidate, but rather the cast and crew of “Scott Pilgrim” who have gone far beyond the call of duty to restore honor to Edgar Wright’s gloriously insane adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s graphic novel with a barnstorming tour of the country that began in Los Angeles last month at the New Beverly Cinema where everyone from star Michael Cera to director Edgar Wright showed up for the film’s first official midnight screening and will continue at a free screening the Bloor Cinema in Toronto on Friday, sold out dates at the Brattle Theatre in Boston this Saturday (where the 7:30 show is not yet sold out) and the Village East in New York on November 8th, before returning to Los Angeles for a encore weekend of midnight screenings at the New Bev on November 12th and 13th moderated by Doug Benson.

Surely, promoting the film’s DVD release on November 9th is a driving force behind these screenings, but for anyone that has been to one knows that a true phenomenon seems afoot. Just a few weeks ago, Rope of Silicon writer Bill Cody wondered, “Is Scott Pilgrim the New Lebowski?” and in a way few other films besides those contending for Oscars have, “Scott Pilgrim” has brought its followers, many of whom are quite famous, out of the woodwork to support the film.

11022010_ScottPilgrimPanel3.jpgArguably, this started even before the film was released when J.J. Abrams bestowed the “This is Your Life” treatment to Wright’s career at the L.A. Film Festival in June and continued through last night where Guillermo Del Toro held court at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood to interview Wright, O’Malley and Cera in front of a crowd that included co-stars Johnny Simmons, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Satya Bhabha, as well as others like the film’s fight choreographer Brad Allan and “Donnie Darko” director Richard Kelly. (Apparently, it was Allan who was an initial link between Del Toro and Wright – Del Toro invited Wright to the set of “Hellboy 2,” when Wright was looking for a fight choreographer and when Del Toro was in the editing bay, Wright showed him animatics for what would become “Pilgrim.”) With the fervor of an evangelist, Del Toro acknowledged shortly after the end credits rolled on the film that this wasn’t some mere screening but an invocation of sorts.

“To me, [this] is a really important screening because I think we all can go out to the world after this screening and tell every motherfucker out there to watch the movie,” said Del Toro. “Why? Because anyone that didn’t watch it is a motherfucker. We can tell them when they ask why does Hollywood make such shitty movies because when they do great ones, you don’t fucking show up.”

For Del Toro, “Scott Pilgrim” is the first movie that “articulates our pop culture,” which is why Monday evening’s Q & A was so interesting as it veered away from cute behind-the-scenes anecdotes (which there were in spades, including this nugget about the film’s cameos and how it took an entire year for a clearance producer to get the rights just for Scott Pilgrim’s many T-shirts) to a wider-ranging talk about the potential for paradigm shifts in storytelling and the eventuality of transmedia. Since the event was ostensibly a promotional event for “Scott Pilgrim”‘s DVD release, Universal quickly released some selected clips from the discussion that followed, a few of which will be embedded below, but we hope to fill that out with some of the more interesting parts of the conversation that weren’t on video (uncensored, if you will, since Del Toro frequently dropped the f-bomb).

11022010_GuillermodelToro.jpgGuillermo Del Toro’s introduction to the film:

Guillermo Del Toro: I’m here because I love the movie and I’m here as a fan. One of the reasons why I’m doing this event is one of the things that is…some people confuse with effortlessness with ease. One of the hardest things to simulate is something breezy and light and effortless and most people like to say that’s just somebody winging it or having a good time. It applies to writers, actors and directors. When they talk about an actor just playing himself on the screen, that’s absolutely not possible in the same way that getting a boner at home is easy, getting it hard in front of a film crew is pretty hard.

As a director, ultimately, you don’t have a boner on the set, but the director is the same thing – keeping the rhythm and the flow of the movie is one of the cardinal things in telling a story, an incredibly intricate practice. And as a writer, the same. When people say he writes like he speaks, that is a huge task, not to change the voice in your head to the page. Many times you hear dialogue, you think about great dialogue being improvised because it seems to flow effortlessly. One of the things that Edgar did that absolutely destroyed me was transitions. When you see the movie again, the transitions are absolutely incredibly effortless, fluid, smart and completely deliberate and apropos of the movie. They are not just feats of camera and storytelling that are the struggles that he has putting on his platform shoes and dancing – it’s none of that James Brown stuff. He’s doing it not as a showboat, but as part of the reason and the narrative behind the story.

Another one I’d like to direct your attention towards is the color palette. I think there’s a very deliberate use of saturated colors as the story advances and for good reason. Finally, when you go to Disneyland, they’re always telling you to pay attention for the hidden Mickeys because there are Mickey Mouses hidden all over Disneyland, including the urinals, I think. I’m not sure about that, but just as much being a movie about evil exes, I would love for this to be a drinking game because then the actors would be great. But try and spot all the exes in the film that are everywhere.

Edgar Wright on The Film’s Origins

Del Toro started this portion of the conversation by asking O’Malley whether he actually had to fight seven evil exes for the inspiration for the graphic novels, to which O’Malley replied that in real life his then-girlfriend had dated three guys named Matt and “I just thought three Matts was kind of a funny concept and what if they were evil. And to be honest, I was smoking a lot of pot at the time.” Del Toro suggested that “there is a reading of [the film] where it could all be happening in Scott’s mind” and Wright acknowledged that it was O’Malley’s observation that Scott Pilgrim “is the hero in the movie in his own head” that really clarified things for the director.

Edgar Wright: Once I had that information, it was a really great way of how to imagine the movies that this movie is playing inside Scott Pilgrim’s head and the real version of it would be like a 16mm Sundance indie comedy. But Scott Pilgrim has reinterpreted it as this thing with massive kung fu battles and musical sequences and the reality of it would be a quirky indie comedy minus the fight sequences.

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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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