Fun With Slate’s Hollywood Career-O-Matic

Fun With Slate’s Hollywood Career-O-Matic (photo)

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I’m good at my job because I’m eternally curious about the world of movies. And I’m bad at my job because I’m eternally curious about the world of movies. Once I find something about movies online, it’s kind of hard to stop looking at it. My doctor calls it “Internet addiction.” I call it my “mutant power.” We agree to disagree.

Today my obsessive tendencies have me playing with a new web page from Slate called The Hollywood Career-O-Matic. Basically Christopher Beam and Jeremy Singer-Vine used the movie review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes to compile sets of data about working Hollywood actors and directors. When you enter a name into the Career-O-Matic, seen above, it spits out a line graph charting the ups and downs of that filmmaker’s critical reception over time. By moving the mouse over the points on the graph, you get pop-ups of the names of the movies, their release date, and their Rotten Tomatoes score. It’s a fun, user-friendly way to access the scope of a filmmaker’s career and to see, in an instant, what someone’s best and worst reviewed movies were (Michael Bay’s best? “The Rock.” His worst? “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.”).

But it gets much more interesting from there because you can plug more than one name into the Career-O-Matic, and compare two or more filmmakers’ careers side-by-side. For example, the graph above was actually the very first one I plugged into the Career-O-Matic: Arnold Schwarzenegger vs. Sylvester Stallone.


The results aren’t perfect; the Career-O-Matic doesn’t filter out cameos (something that would be apprecaited in a C-O-M 2.0), which means Schwarzenegger’s second best received picture is “Dave,” which he is barely in. And the database only goes back to 1985; meaning Arnold is spared the unflattering comparison of “Hercules in New York” versus “Rocky.” But it is still fascinating to compare these peers’ work in this way. The best reviewed picture either ever made during this period is “Terminator 2: Judgment Day;” while the highest score Stallone’s received came for his voice only, as an animated bug in “Antz.” It’s also interesting to observe how both of their careers cratered simultaneously in the mid- and late-90s, suggesting shifts in public taste for action films, and how they’ve enjoyed a slight resurgence in the last half-decade, suggesting a certain nostalgia for their style of films.

Okay, so I got the obvious out of the way. What’s next? How about this one:


Director versus director, brother versus brother, Ridley and Tony Scott. Again, we’re limited by our data starting in 1985 (meaning no “Alien,” “Blade Runner,” or “The Hunger”) but we do see similar gradual downward trajectories in both cases. At least until recently; it does seem the reevaluation of Tony Scott as something of a phantom auteur by certain artier sects of the critical community has begun to seep into criticism at large. While three out of Ridley’s last four films have been amongst the worst reviewed of his career (and the fourth, the dreadful “American Gangster,” received an impossibly generous score of 79), Tony’s stock is on the rise: after bottoming out with “Domino,” he rebounded with “Deja Vu” (which is inexplicably absent from his graph) and “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three,” then scored his best reviewed movie in fifteen years with last year’s “Unstoppable.” The numbers are so close between them I’m not sure who comes out on top. Someone get these two to dual it out in a vicious battle of slaps to determine the winner.

All right, one more before I lose all day to this thing.


Here we’ve got arguably the two biggest names in American independent film since the early 1990s, Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh. Clearly, Tarantino takes the match in terms of average score; other than the dark spot on his directorial career that is the anthology “Four Rooms,” Tarantino doesn’t have a film to his name that rates less than a 60. Soderbergh has a lot more critical flops (and his own poorly received anthology, “Eros”) but he’s also got a lot more movies, period. As you can see from the long stretch between dots on his green line, in the six years between Tarantino’s “Jackie Brown” and “Kill Bill: Volume 1,” Soderbergh made seven movies, including “Traffic,” “Eric Brockavich,” and “Ocean’s Eleven.” Also, it’s kind of surprising that the highest rated Tarantino movie isn’t “Pulp Fiction;” it’s “Reservoir Dogs.” I don’t know anyone who prefers the latter above the former, but that’s not necessarily the way Rotten Tomatoes works. They chart consensus, not passion.

I could go on and on with this thing. And I want to. But I’ll leave it here for now. It’s time for you to play with the Career-O-Matic for yourself. I’d love to hear some more comparisons in the comments section; maybe we can do a follow-up post later of the most interesting ones.

Got a good combination for the Hollywood Career-O-Matic? Tell us about it in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook!


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…


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. 


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 ’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?”


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).



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.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

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.


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.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



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.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.