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Interview: Team Bondi’s Brendan McNamara on “L.A. Noire,” Part 2

Interview: Team Bondi’s Brendan McNamara on “L.A. Noire,” Part 2 (photo)

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[Find Part 1 here.]

So, once you settled on detective fiction and the hard-boiled film noir take, and then the technology came into being, what specifically about postwar L.A. made you gravitate to that time and place?

Well, for me specifically, when I grew up in the ’70s and stuff, I’m a child of Vietnam. Australia is fairly closely linked to America in lots of ways. I read a lot about WWII and this moral authority that America had during the second World War and how they get to Vietnam and where we are now.

For me, it’s the chance to explore that underbelly of the American dream. It’s about what Hollywood meant–as much of the Golden Age of Hollywood, everything from Gone with the Wind and all that kind of stuff–and what still might carry over from that era. Hollywood kept churning out these bright cheerful movies, but the film noir guys were trying to show what was behind the lights. So, that was a really interesting thing for me to pursue.

That’s a very good point. I feel like what happens after all these soldiers come home, some get married, have two kids, and get a job and a car. But, other have darker urges that maybe the war uncorked.

Yeah, totally. Things like “The Best Years of Our Lives,” which I only saw about five years ago. It was an amazing movie. Guys coming back from the war. Some of them go back to model marriages and can’t live in them. Some of them come back with their arms shot off and all that kind of stuff. The girlfriend turns up at the station and doesn’t want to know. There were some amazing pieces like that made at the time, that have kind of fallen by the wayside–even though that won an Academy Award at the time.

L.A. is a city that can be interpreted so many different ways. It’s where you go to become a Hollywood star but also that whole idea of lost souls that resonates there, too.

Yeah. I really like it as a city, but for some reason, I feel like it’s one of the loneliest places around, too. And one of the reasons for that, I think, is because it is a particular kind of 20th Century city. You think about New York and it’s kind of built on the European model in a way; it’s like the grid but it’s different.

Then, you have L.A, which is this kind of vast sprawl coming from the idea of “give everybody their home and give them part of the dream.” But you have to connect that up with freeways, which means that everybody has no central connection to the city. And, just because they did that, the downtown area isn’t a real hub. I always thought it was the most interesting part of town, because everybody ended up so faraway from each other and they just let it rot.

And a lot of cities around the world, Sydney especially, kind of adopted that model, the L.A. kind of model. And it’s interesting to see how people try to reconstruct it. And now in L.A., they’re reconstructing downtown and trying to make it the center of the city all over again. It’s kind of an experiment and I don’t know how it’ll all work out.

That remains to be seen, I think. Since this is a project that draws really heavily on film noir, and maybe some hard-boiled detective literature novels. Can you talk about what some of the influences that you might have pulled into the creative process?

Yeah, I think we have a bunch of things. I always start with literature. I read Hammett and Chandler a lot when I was a kid and just loved that kind of sense that you could boil something down that tightly. I always wondered why, Chandler especially, didn’t write more books. He seemed to get tied up in screenwriting.

James M. Cain, I started reading after I saw some of the movies made from his work, like “The Postman Always Rings Twice.” And then I’m a huge fan of James Ellroy, who I think writes better dialogue or the most modern form of dialogue than anything else currently around. So that’s where we were inspired from literature. And what we do here is we have film nights of all the old film noir movies.

We make the teams sit there and watch them. And that’s everything from “M” and all the way through to “House of Bamboo,” and “The Sweet Smell of Success” in the ’50s. Recently, we’ve gone through “Double Indemnity” and “Out of the Past.” So, all those kind of movies. We’re just trying to grab as much as we can from all those kind of things. And like I said, the interesting thing about that is how they use the lighting and the amazing way they used dialogue, I think. You rarely see a dialogue-heavy film like that anymore.

I’m going to go off on two tangents here, so please forgive me. The first one, I was wondering if you ever read any Robert B. Parker? Robert B. Parker, he wrote the Spenser novels. They started out popular in the ’70s. Got turned into a TV show in the ’80s. He’s very much in the Hammett/Chandler kind of thing.

Oh, OK. No. I’d like to read them.

It’s good stuff. It’s a little bit more modern because it obviously takes place post-Vietnam. But he made everything feel like classic hard-boiled/noir and the dialogue is very snappy. The themes are kind of the same, too.

The other guy I really love is James Lee Burke. I just think that guy is incredible. Incredible prose. If I could write one paragraph as good as that.

The other tangent I had was how film noir is pretty much a genre that’s pretty much disappeared nowadays for whatever reason. But I don’t know if you ever saw that movie “Brick.” It’s with…

Yeah. I did. I loved it too. Yeah. It’s funny. Because it’s sort of like film noir dialogue in high school.

The thing I love about that movie is it takes a classic film noir plot device, which is the illegitimate pregnancy, and it places it in a social sphere where that kind of transgression still matters. Nowadays, people get pregnant out of wedlock. They have abortions. It’s not a big deal. But, in high school, it’s still like, “oh my God, this is a scandal.”

Yeah. And, back in the day, divorce was still a crime. That was usually the big one that a lot of the movies revolved around. And they’re also using the cigarette plot device which is almost like a matchbook, isn’t it? Like what the particular brand of cigarette is and all that kind of stuff. A very clever film, I think.

Yeah, very much so.

Great performance by the lead guy in it as well.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

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

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.


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…


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.


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.