DID YOU READ

Remembering When Steven Spielberg Wanted To Create A Universal Film School With Quentin Tarantino

Remembering When Steven Spielberg Wanted To Create A Universal Film School With Quentin Tarantino (photo)

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Steven Spielberg has been out of the public eye for the last few years, but that’s all about to change this week. 2011 will actually be one of the most prolific years for the famed director ever, with his long-gestating motion-capture project “Adventures of Tintin” and the drama “War Horse” being released within a week of each other over the holidays, the premieres of his two sci-fi television series “Falling Skies” and “Terra Nova” in the fall and summer, and of course, this week’s “Super 8,” which may be the project he’s least personally invested in, but bears his greatest imprint. That’s because Spielberg doesn’t only serve as a producer on JJ Abrams‘ alien invasion thriller, but one of its prime influences and perhaps the only thing that hasn’t been kept secret about the film and though an entire generation of filmmakers will credit the “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” director for getting into the business, few actually have been able to be taken under his wing as Abrams has.

However, “Super 8” has oddly not inspired as much nostalgia for the Amblin years for me as it has for the time when Spielberg aimed to mentor millions, despite the fact that upon its 15th anniversary this year it’s little remembered. Back in 1996, “Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair” debuted and was according to Spielberg, “a film school in a box,” a CD-ROM game spread over three discs that allowed users to helm a film starring Quentin Tarantino (during his “Destiny Turns on the Radio” acting phase following “Pulp Fiction”) and Jennifer Aniston as a death row inmate and his girlfriend, respectively. Nascent filmmakers could consult with future “Pirates of the Caribbean” screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, Spielberg’s longtime editor Michael Kahn and “Jurassic Park” cinematographer Dean Cundey as they pointed and clicked through a series of videos that took them through the process of making a film from the script stage through its premiere, with Spielberg guiding the way.

Here’s the trailer, and its accompanying behind the scenes footage that just may be the most entertaining thing you’ll watch all day as Spielberg talks about “Director’s Chair”‘s worldwide prospects, Aniston’s praise of “a situation you’d cut of your right arm as an actor to be in,” and Tarantino’s admonishment that “a whole generation of filmmakers could really come out versed in editing” from the game:

“Director’s Chair” actually wound up being a little too accurate to the filmmaking process, proving tedious for most as it tested its audience’s patience with too many decisions about camera setups and lengthy loadtimes. Asylum.com once ranked it number nine on their list of the “10 Worst Celebrity Video Games” ever. But the experience didn’t sour Spielberg on games or attempting to give novices a a leg up, although he was far more successful at the former with his creation of the “Medal of Honor” series than he was at the latter when he tried his hand at a reality TV competition in 2007 with “On the Lot,” the Fox series where a group of filmmakers competed for a DreamWorks contract that he bailed on almost as quickly as its original host Chelsea Handler did when it was obvious the ratings weren’t up to snuff. But Spielberg’s always been at his best when not working with raw talent and besides, he’s always got a day job to fall back on.

Did you have a copy of “Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair”? It’s okay to tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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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.