DID YOU READ

Rashida Jones Questions “Monogamy”

Rashida Jones Questions “Monogamy” (photo)

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Whether it’s the straightwoman to Amy Poehler’s Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation” or the patient fiancée to Paul Rudd’s Peter Klaven in “I Love You, Man,” Rashida Jones has carved out a niche as one of the most confident and reliable comic foils working in the business today, which is why it is with some surprise to see her all wrapped up in self-doubt with one of her first dramatic roles to date in Dana Adam Shapiro’s “Monogamy,” a thriller concerning a soon-to-be-wed couple (Jones and “Away We Go”‘s Chris Messina) put to the test as the would-be groom Theo begins to get cold feet about commitment after his side job as a “photostalker,” where people pay him to capture them in their most intimate moments without their knowledge, leads to his questioning a life shared with just one person.

Since the significant other in question is Jones, one might begin to question the plausibility of the whole enterprise as her usual winning ways are on display as Nat, an aspiring singer who is left mostly singing the blues as Messina’s wedding photographer stumbles through a bizarre journey to self-actualization that involves gorilla masks, filming a woman pleasure herself in the park as part of his job, and only occasionally checking in on Nat after she suffers an infection on her finger that seems to deteriorate at the same pace as the couple’s relationship. Jones recently took the time to talk about the film, the first in which she’s had to channel some of her family’s rich musical heritage, and how as an artist she’s been far from monogamous in recent years.

How did you become interested in the film?

“Murderball” is a fantastic movie. I spoke to [its director] Dana Adam Shapiro on the phone and I just thought that he was going to make the kind of movie I would want to be in and I’ve always really loved Chris Messina as an actor and was excited to see him in a part like this and wanted to be a part of it.

03162011_Monogamy2.jpgYou’re also friends with Chris in real life and yet you’re playing a couple that’s having problems in your relationship. Was having a bond offscreen something that was helpful or something that you had to overcome?

It’s interesting. Chris and I were talking about it today because it’s not a given. It’s not necessarily the kind of thing that makes the relationship more interesting or necessarily better because I know Chris really well and I know his girlfriend really well and I know his kids really well and because this is such an intimate, intense relationship, it could’ve worked either way, but luckily Chris is such a genuinely committed actor and such a professional in every sense of the word, and he’s just a brave, brave actor, he made it really easy for us to have the kind of relationship that would hopefully translate as real and meaningful.

When I spoke to Dana last year at Tribeca, he described how he would shoot for a very long time to get you and Chris exhausted. Was that a different way of working?

It was great. It was absolutely exhausting, but it was exhausting in a very fulfilling way. Yeah, he would just let the camera roll and we would do these like crazy 20-minute takes and he put a lot of faith in us, but it also allowed for us to forget we were being filmed, which is such a huge luxury as an actor because then you’re not battling all the elements of lights and camera and makeup touches and hitting your marks. All you’re doing really is connecting to the moment, so as daunting as it may sound, it’s actually kind of a blessing.

You’ve been in a couple other of indie productions, but this sounded particularly down and dirty. Did it feel like a rite of passage in a way?

Definitely. Everybody earned every penny they made on this movie for sure and there was a lot of just making it work with what we had. There’s something really fun and really rewarding about that, obviously. But it is exhausting and the crew was there because they just loved the movie and that’s really nice. You don’t get to say that very often.

Since Chris goes off on his own journey for much of the film, was it interesting for you to play a more reserved role and then later seeing what Chris goes through on his end in the final cut?

Chris did just such a beautiful job of balancing because his actions are very unlikeable and the way that he treats me could be interpreted as pretty hostile, but I feel like his focus and his commitment to being a voyeur, meaning something about his own confusion about his own life, I think, made him sympathetic.

03162011_RashidaJonesMonogamy.jpg And at the end of the film, you’re asked to sing, which is something you’ve never done before on screen and of course, your father is Quincy Jones, so there’s a lot to live up to. Was it daunting?

No, I haven’t done that on film before and that actually was my last day of shooting, so it was pretty scary. I find it scary to sing – scarier than acting actually. [slight laugh] Just because you’re so exposed and if you’re bad in a movie, you can always blame someone else — you’re like, “oh, it’s the editing.” But when you’re up there and you’re singing and you’re by yourself, you can’t blame anybody. It’s all you and there’s no trick, there’s no editing that you can create to take away from what you’re doing, so it’s thrilling, but it’s also terrifying.

I actually just heard Darren Aronofsky say about Natalie Portman that the hardest thing she had to do was act while dancing – did you find it the same with singing?

Her dancing was so beautiful in that movie and told you so much about that character. I would even hope to be able to do that with singing, but yeah, because it’s part of the storytelling, I’m like this timid wannabe singer and I finally reach this point at the end of the movie where I have the freedom from the relationship or whatever to express myself in that way and I do feel there’s a certain level of vulnerability that can’t really be expressed verbally.

However, you have been expressing yourself quite a bit these days by writing your own scripts (with Will McCormack), the comedy “Celeste and Jesse Forever” and “Frenemy of the State.” What is the status with those?

They’re happening. I’m writing a lot and hopefully we’re making one of our films this summer. We’re in the process of casting and stuff and finishing up the adaptation of my comic book [“Frenemy of the State”] and hopefully, they’ll make that pretty soon too.

In many ways, your career took off around the time of transmedia and while you were able to get your start doing films and television, was there a point for you that things really opened up because of all the different platforms available to you?

It’s really exciting and I’m really grateful because I know that it’s not the norm and I know that not everybody gets the opportunity to do it. My dad had always said to me, “Be really great at two things and you’ll never be in trouble.” And I might’ve taken that too far because I’m trying to be pretty good at a bunch of stuff because for me, I like to be challenged regularly and that’s another reason why I took this movie because I saw the script and I knew Chris was attached and I knew it would be down and dirty and I was scared of the idea of it and the minute I’m scared of something is the minute I know I have to do it to push through to whatever next level I’m going to push through to emotionally or professionally. So for me, I just always want to have things lined up that will challenge me and hopefully make me better and humble me and keep me on my toes.

“Monogamy” is now open in New York and expands on March 18th.

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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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