DID YOU READ

Maria Schneider, 1952-2011.

Maria Schneider, 1952-2011. (photo)

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“Last Tango in Paris” is a tragedy that grows more tragic with age. Though people who’ve never seen it associate with its graphic sex scenes, it is much more about grief than eroticism. It is an uncomfortable film to watch in the first place, revisiting upon the deaths of its creators makes it even more so. When Marlon Brando died in 2004, I rewatched it and now that Brando’s co-star, Maria Schneider, died earlier this week at the age of 58 of an undisclosed illness, I revisited the film again.

As every single obituary written about Schneider will tell you, she was just 19 when she was cast by Bernardo Bertolucci to co-star in “Last Tango” with Brando. She played Jeanne, a young woman engaged to a film director. Apartment hunting in Paris, she finds a place and discovers Brando’s Paul sitting inside. His wife has just committed suicide and he’s looking for a new home himself. They talk for the first time in the apartment, but they’ve already met twice and not realized it. She passes him on the street, and soon after uses a telephone booth after Paul without noticing him. It’s as if fate is pushing these two people together towards a common destiny.

“Last Tango” is available on Netflix Watch Instantly. When I heard the news of Schneider’s death, I turned it on, looking more closely at Schneider’s performance than I had before. She does a good job in what must have been nearly impossible circumstances. I like Roger Ebert’s reassessment of his own initially negative perception of Schneider’s performance in his “Great Movies” essay about “Last Tango:”

“Schneider’s performance has been discounted over the years. This is said to be Brando’s film. ‘Both characters are enigmas,’ I wrote in 1995, ‘but Brando knows Paul, while Schneider is only walking in Jeanne’s shoes.’ Seeing the film again, I believe I was wrong. Schneider, who plays much of the film completely nude, who is held in closeup during long scenes of extraordinary complexity, who at 22 had hardly acted before, shares the film with Brando and meets him in the middle. What Hollywood actress of the time could have played Brando on his own field?”

Absolutely correct. To dismiss Maria Schneider because she’s not as good as Marlon Brando in “Last Tango in Paris,” is like dismissing Dwayne Wade’s role on the Miami Heat because he’s not as good a basketball player as his teammate LeBron James. Schneider was held to an unfair and impossible standard, and as a result got a raw deal that was never fully rectified in her lifetime.

You can read quotes from Schneider about making the movie; the ones on her Wikipedia page suggest that she enjoyed the early attention the film brought her, as any 19-year-old suddenly thrust in the spotlight probably would. But later, Schneider realized that no matter what she did in life she would be forever followed by the things she had done and shown in “Last Tango.” Reuters’ obituary quotes an interview Schneider gave in 2007 with The Daily Mail, when she said “I felt very sad because I was treated like a sex symbol — I wanted to be recognized as an actress and the whole scandal and aftermath of the film turned me a little crazy and I had a breakdown.”

Schneider’s IMDb page indicates she worked pretty steadily through the 1980s and 1990s. But apart from her role opposite Jack Nicholson in Antonioni’s “The Passenger” — a film that’s only gotten its due in the last decade — nothing came close to replacing the image “Last Tango” left in people’s mind. It’s a sad story that makes a tragic film even sadder.

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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.