DID YOU READ

Will Digital Projection Convert Arthouses Right Out of Existence?

Will Digital Projection Convert Arthouses Right Out of Existence? (photo)

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While heading up the Northwest for the Seattle Film Festival, it was hard to miss the attention-grabbing headline of this week’s Portland Mercury, “Celluloid Cemetery,” noteworthy to cinephiles not only because of its subject matter, but because Portland is a place where passion for film is strong enough to land the wonky technological transformation of cinemas going from projecting physical film to digital on the front page of an alternative weekly. As it turns out, “How to Die in Oregon” doesn’t only refer to this year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner for Best Documentary, but could also easily refer to the arthouses in the state.

These are interesting days for exhibitors across the country who will soon come to a crossroads if they haven’t already of upgrading their projection system to digital or face extinction. For the large chains, the $60,000 to do so is a pittance and a convenience since they’ll no longer have to deal with transporting bulky film canisters, worry about prints wearing out and give them the ability to charge for extras such as 3D that come with the digital form.

But what’s left behind are the mom-and-pop operations, often in less densely populated areas with thin profit margins, that have already suffered the slings and arrows of potential audiences eroding first with the availability of DVDs before a film ever comes to their town and now the more immediate threat of video-on-demand.
(At a recent summit of VOD distributors, representatives from distributors including our corporate sibling IFC Films claimed that the increased growth of VOD hasn’t come at the expense of theatrical revenues, but in communities such as Portland, it isn’t hard to imagine theatrical runs being bypassed altogether in favor of a strictly-VOD run.)

Although it would be a major stretch to believe places like Portland would be left without the theatrical experience of arthouse cinema altogether, it’s isn’t so hard to imagine a future where they would be stripped of some of their most interesting theaters. In an era where the experience of moviegoing is becoming more integral to the audience experience than the movie itself, that would be a tragedy. As Anthony Kaufman noted in a recent piece for IndieWire, the arthouse successes of recent years have owed much of their good fortune to building a strong community foundation around a specific theater such as the growing Alamo Drafthouse chain out of Austin or Florida’s Enzian Theater, both of which offer amenties such as high-end food and drink as well as eclectic programming and since they’re newer, digital projection.

There’s a similar theater in Portland – Living Room Theaters, a six-screen theater that boldly states itself as “the first all and only digital cinema in the U.S.,” which will allow it to reap considerable rewards if many of the arthouses in Portland don’t make the conversion by 2012. The Portland Mercury‘s Erik Henriksen surmises that this is unlikely to happen in his neck of the woods, but that indeed is what the Mayans predicted may come true for quite a few American theaters – in Portland, the locally-made “Cold Weather” couldn’t screen at the Laurelhurst Theater since it was shot on digital and no film print actually existed.

It’s hard to root against the onward march of technology if it means more films like Aaron Katz’s brilliant mystery, which financially couldn’t exist on any other form besides digital cinema, but it’s an interesting trade-off where the decrease in the cost of making movies is potentially adding to the cost of distribution since the idea always was that digital would lower costs for everyone. Exhibitors have certainly had time to prepare, but that doesn’t make it easier to accept, especially considering it’s a medium given to nostalgia.

As Roger Ebert laments in this week’s issue of Newsweek, the experience of seeing quality cinema in general is “being abandoned” and it would seem it starts with the closure of some of our oldest theaters, which for arthouse films is still where the conversation and all-important word-of-mouth often begins. Instead, that conversation may have to reside online, just as the films filter through Internet and cable connections, which is contrary to what cinema, like all great art, aspires to do – to push something theoretical and intangible into reality. To find out that digital could do the reverse by steering some theaters out of existence where all we have left is the fond memories of moviegoing is a step in the wrong direction.

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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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