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A Spirited Q & A With “Winter’s Bone” Actress Jennifer Lawrence

A Spirited Q & A With “Winter’s Bone” Actress Jennifer Lawrence (photo)

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As a way of celebrating this year’s nominees for the Spirit Awards in the weeks leading up to the ceremony, we reached out to as many as we could in an effort to better understand what went into their films, what they’ve gotten out of the experience, and where they’ve found their inspiration, both in regards to their work and other works of art that might’ve inspired them from the past year. Their answers will be published on a daily basis throughout February.

One of the recurring oddities of awards season is reconciling the actors and actresses who walk the red carpet with the roles they so thoroughly inhabited that got them honored in the first place. For Jennifer Lawrence, the difference has been particularly stark, radiating old school Hollywood glamour as she’s strolled through one ceremony after another in recent months for her performance in “Winter’s Bone” where as the steely Ree Dolly, she couldn’t be further away in the Ozarks. However, what makes it easier to reconcile the two is knowing the other things Lawrence radiates – an intelligence and inner strength – that makes Ree no victim and the actress no ordinary thespian.

In both circumstances, it took someone to recognize this and put in the proper context. Just as Ree has John Hawkes’ enigmatic Teardrop aid her on her quest to find her father, Lawrence has Debra Granik to guide her after proving to be herself to be one of the most exciting actresses of her generation with searing, if underseen turns in “The Burning Plain” and “The Poker House.” Dressed in layer upon layer of baggy clothing, the weight of Ree’s attire in “Winter’s Bone” is no match for the burden she carries throughout the film, tending to her incapacitated mother and her young brother and sister while navigating the backwoods of Missouri, strewn with abandoned cars and farm equipment and knee deep in meth labs and in-laws she’d prefer not to see again.

Incidentally, it was Lawrence’s own mother who was the first to realize she’d make a fine Ree Dolly while reading Daniel Woodrell’s original novel long before she ever auditioned for Granik. (There might have been second thoughts if she knew it entailed an education in skinning squirrels and handling rifles, both of which Lawrence had to learn during preparation for the film.) Still, there’s no doubt that good instincts run in the family since with a script where every word counts, Granik and co-screenwriter Anne Rosellini don’t let Lawrence convey as much verbally as the actress does for herself with not much more than her piercing set of blue eyes and a world-weary hunch that few teenagers could (or should) ever shoulder. In the same spirit, Lawrence kept her answers to our questionnaire relatively short, but given that it’s one of the most talked-about performances of the year, it’s clearly an achievement that speaks for itself and the announcement of an actress with many superlatives in her future.

Why did you want to make this film?

Because I loved it and I would have done anything for it.

What was the best piece of advice you received that applied to the making of this film?

Do whatever it takes.

What was the toughest thing to overcome, whether it applies to a particular scene or the film as a whole?

The physical elements – the cold and the long hours.

What’s been the most memorable moment while you’ve traveled with the film, either at a festival or otherwise?

Being recognized by Steven Spielberg at DreamWorks – the fact that he had seen the movie. I just couldn’t get over how tiny the movie was compared to how big he is.

What’s your favorite thing about your film that’s been largely uncommented upon?

One of my favorite things about the movie is the folk music. It’s written and sung by people from the area where we shot the film. It’s stirring…I really love it.

What’s been the most gratifying thing to come out of this film for you personally?

The fact that people have seen it. Working so hard on something and knowing it’s been appreciated.

Your favorite film, book or album from the past year?

My favorite films were “Inception” and “The Social Network.” My favorite book was “Hunger Games.”

“Winter’s Bone” is still playing in limited release and is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and iTunes. The Spirit Awards will air on IFC on February 26th.

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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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