DID YOU READ

The Fast, The Furious, and The Old

The Fast, The Furious, and The Old (photo)

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For a movie about speed, “Fast Five” is sure taking forever to dislodge itself from my brain. This is my fourth piece on the franchise in like ten days. I promise it’s the last (probably).

As the positive reviews and massive box office attest, “Fast Five” satisfies as a straight-ahead action film. It’s a very well-made Hollywood product. Pay your twelve bucks, turn off your brain, and let the punchy-punchy, vroomy-vroomy wash over you; you won’t be disappointed. But if you don’t turn off your brain, and you consider the entire scope of this now decade-long franchise, what begins to emerge in “Fast Five” is a moving story of mortality and lost opportunities.

Diesel and Walker aren’t as young as they used to be; Diesel’s 43, Walker’s 37. In an era when Sylvester Stallone’s still making viagra cinema in his mid-60s, they’re definitely not dinosaurs, but they’re not exactly kids, either. They’re getting dangerously close to becoming what Chris Rock once called “the old guy in the club;” “not too old, just a little too old to be in the club.” These guys used to be underground street racers; can you imagine a 43-year-old dude hanging out with underground street racers? And not just hanging around, but being the coolest guy in the entire scene? That’s even more improbable that surviving a several hundred foot jump from a cliff to a river in a convertible. The whole thing sounds like the plot of a Judd Apatow spoof starring John C. Reilly.

In the parlance of the modern action movie, Diesel and Walker are getting too old for this shit.* By now the “Fast & Furious” franchise has long outlived the cache of the subculture that created it, hence “Fast Five”‘s transition from drag race rebel story to heist film. Though Dominic Toretto and Brian O’Conner’s activities in “Fast Five” are as outrageous and death-defying as ever, you’re starting to see little cracks in the actors’ armor of physical beauty. Walker’s blonde hair isn’t quite so blonde. Diesel’s arms aren’t quite as cut as they used to be. He’s got just the tiniest bit of flab under his chin. And all the dudes’ shirts in this movie seem a lot roomier than they used to be.

I’m not saying this to poke fun, but rather to observe the fact that ten years on these guys are still at this car chase game, and that lends “Fast Five” a certain subterranean whiff of melancholy. In a lot of ways “Fast Five” reminds me of “Jackass 3D,” the third installment in the dudely prank franchise which began its life on MTV right around the same time as “Fast & Furious” did. Ten years later, the Jackasses are still at it too and as “3D”‘s closing credits made clear, there’s something kind of honorable about that, and also something kind of sad too. This is what these guys do. But even if they wanted to stop, they pretty much couldn’t.

In the context of the film, Diesel and Walker’s characters want to get out of the crime game because there’s too many cops chasing them. But astute observers of these actors’ careers know they’ve both tried and failed to leave this franchise before; they too wanted to stop and couldn’t. Diesel split after the first “Fast & Furious;” Walker bailed after “2 Fast 2 Furious.” Six years and however many flops later, they returned for the fourth film. Now the fifth movie is (rightfully) a massive success, all but ensuring a sixth (and, according to a recent interview by Diesel in Entertainment Weekly, maybe a whole other trilogy after that). “Fast & Furious” has an almost Corleonean hold on them: just when they think they’re out, it pulls them back in.

I’m sure they’re quite happy about it now, they’re all making money hand over fist. But it is sort of amazing to think that this goofy franchise that started life as a story of hot rodding meathead philosophers is now about a bunch of guys desperately trying to stop doing the very things audiences come to watch them do. How long can they keep it up? At some point the only thing they’re going to have to be furious about are the damn kids on their lawn.

*Danny Glover knows from Diesel and Walker’s pain. He said he was getting too old for this shit in the first “Lethal Weapon.” Then it became a huge hit and Murtaugh put off retirement for three more movies and eleven friggin’ years.

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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.