DID YOU READ

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.

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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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