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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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.