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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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.