DID YOU READ

Whit Stillman Takes Los Angeles

Whit Stillman Takes Los Angeles (photo)

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Just slightly over a week ago, Hadrian Belove of the Cinefamily in Los Angeles introduced a screening of Tom Noonan’s “What Happened Was” by recalling the era it came out in which “a great movie was coming out every week.” That feeling is being recreated for the next month with the series “When Indies Rocked,” a veritable wonderland for fans of the ’90s boom that introduced the world to writer/directors like Alexander Payne, David O. Russell, Neil LaBute, and Todd Haynes, among others.

Throughout Fridays in February, Payne, Russell, “In the Soup” director Alexandre Rockwell and “One False Move” star Bill Paxton are all scheduled to stop by the theater on Fairfax to reflect on their early work, but a tone of celebration is being set early with a 20th anniversary screening of Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan” this Sunday night. The ideal reminder of a time in cinema when dialogue often danced and low budget-inspired ingenuity led to a deeply-felt visual style, Stillman’s first film in what would become one of the finest runs of any writer/director during the era (including “Barcelona” and “The Last Days of Disco”) has the fizz of a cocktail and the satisfaction of a main course as it follows a group of upper-crust collegians as they attend one debutante ball after another in New York, told from the perspective of a man of more humble means (Edward Clements) looking in.

Any time the film is presented on the big screen can be considered a rare treat in and of itself, but though the writer/director’s fans know no bounds, “Metropolitan” hasn’t strayed far from its east coast setting for a special screening, save for an gala in its honor at last year’s Sundance Film Festival. So it is with much-deserved pomp and circumstance that Stillman will accompany the film out to California for the first time and while he was in the editing bay for his next film “Damsels in Distress” – words the writer/director’s fans have been dying to see in print for over a decade – he took the time to share some thoughts via e-mail on the series and how this screening came together.

How did the Cinefamily screening come about?

The Sundance Film Festival paid for a new 35mm print for last year’s festival – which was fortunate as our lab, DuArt, has since halted film printing. With the Sundance print heading to the UCLA archive, Hadrian Belove of Cinefamily saw a chance for a screening. Meanwhile, we delayed our plan for a small anniversary re-release of “Metropolitan” as backing for our new film came together just after Sundance; but we hope it will go forward close to the new film’s release.

Does it really feel like 20 years has passed?

No, it doesn’t – or it feels like 21 years: “Metropolitan” had its first public screening at Sundance, late January 1990, but the theatrical release ran through March 1991 — in those days releases could last much longer: ours was August through March.

After the theatrical run, have you ever shown the film on the west coast? If you’ve seen it with an audience here, is it much different than with the hometown crowd in New York?

“Metropolitan” really played as a hometown film – one-third of its theatrical gross came out of Manhattan. I’ve only seen it with audiences in New York and at festivals and premieres – the worst were those at a Brussels disco with a very noisy and at the Hof festival in Germany where almost everyone walked out.

The series is called “When Indies Rocked” – and Hadrian of Cinefamily said at the earlier screening of “What Happened Was” that he recalls the ’90s as a time when a great movie was coming out every week. As someone who was in the thick of it, is that looking at it with rose-colored glasses or was there something genuinely special going on?

Generally, that’s right — but film history doesn’t strictly respect decade divides. I’d put the early “golden age” as the ten years from 1984 – for a lot of us, the artistic and commercial success of Jim Jarmusch’s “Stranger than Paradise” was the big inspiration, followed by Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It.” My only film school was his account of putting together that film. As the ’90s wore on, the indie films became a business, a bubble and then a bust. Roberto Rossellini said that in cinema, money is the root of all evil; if that’s true, there’s a lot less evil around now.

Tickets are still available for “Metropolitan” on January 30th and the series as a whole. Details can be found here.

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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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