DID YOU READ

“Page One: Inside The New York Times,” Reviewed

“Page One: Inside The New York Times,” Reviewed (photo)

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I don’t know if it’s a rule or just a cliche, but it feels like every movie about newspapers begins with a scene in the printing presses. I get it: they’re visually interesting, they’re something we never get to see anywhere but the movies, and they represent the end of the process that we’re about to watch unfold. And sure enough, the documentary “Page One: Inside The New York Times” starts with a printing press montage. Not an original choice, but a particularly appropriate one in this movie, since the process that’s ending in this case is not just another issue of a newspaper, but perhaps the entire system of gathering and reporting news that has been in place for over a hundred years.

Whether he originally intended to or not, director Andrew Rossi, who was granted unprecedented access to the Times newsroom for an entire year, wound up with a documentary that is less “inside the Times” than “The Times inside the modern media landscape.” You won’t see how the paper covers sports or local government or, for that matter, how their film desk works. Though we meet a few reporters and editors from around the company and we get to sit in on a couple pitch meetings for the paper’s front page, Rossi primarily looks at the Times through the prism of its own media desk, which is edited by Bruce Headlam and staffed by smart, dedicated journalists like David Carr and Brian Stelter. The stories they report all connect in some way to one of the seismic shifts currently rocking the news industry. WikiLeaks and their release of classified combat videos leads into a discussion about the line between journalist and activist, and the role the Times plays in a world where almost every citizen has access to incredibly powerful communication tools. NBC Universal and Comcast’s merger introduces questions about media consolidation. The bankruptcy of the Tribune company forces us to reconsider whether newspapers should be run as a benevolent public trust, or as a money-making enterprises whose only responsibilities are to its owners and shareholders. To me, these are fascinating issues. If they’re not to you, this movie may not be your cup of tea.

Rossi bounces between news stories, interviews with Times staffers, and media critics and pundits. The structure he’s found — a series of loosely collected snapshots rather than a detailed portrait — reminds me of the way someone might casually read a newspaper, glancing at headlines, flipping back and forth from one section to the next. You don’t necessarily get the best sense of how the Times works but you do get a feel for why it works: because men (and the subjects of “Page One” are almost exclusively white men) like Headlam and Carr believe that The New York Times means more than just something people read on the subway in the morning, and they work their asses off to uphold the values of that have always been at its core. The movie doesn’t burrow too deeply into the nitty-gritty of their work, but if, as many in “Page One” speculate, The New York Times is nearing a period of massive upheaval for itself and for all newspapers, this film will serve as a superb document of this hugely important moment just before it happened.

I may be making the film sound dry, and it’s not. Under Rossi’s gaze, the Times reporters practically become rock stars. Carr, a former drug addict and single father, emerges as the Times‘ unofficial spokesman and biggest cheerleader. He dresses down the arrogant editors of Vice who think their coverage of the Middle East is hot shit. He openly mocks Michael Wolff and his Newser.com for claiming the Times is a dinosaur while ripping off its content. Even though he’s chronicling the collapse of the very business he’s in, Carr makes his job look so freaking cool. Forecasts of financial doom and all, I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if in ten years there are young people working in journalism who credit “Page One” as their inspiration. That is, of course, if there’s anyone actually making a living at journalism in ten years. Those printing presses are starting to look mighty archaic.

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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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