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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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.