DID YOU READ

We wash our hands of the “Contagion” of spoiler trailers

We wash our hands of the “Contagion” of spoiler trailers (photo)

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On behalf of germophobes everywhere, I’d like to give a big Bronx cheer to Steven Soderbergh for his upcoming film “Contagion,” an all-too-convincing disease thriller about a highly contagious flu that threatens to destroy all of human civilization. Looks like I won’t be sleeping ever again, thanks Steven.

Before you lather up with Purel and dive in though, a word of warning: this trailer contains what some would qualify as a pretty big SPOILER, in that it contains the death of what one would assume to be a major character in the story. We’ll discuss that fact after the trailer, but like a man who touches a doorknob right after a guy with a cold you should proceed from here at your own risk.

So, yes, the big SPOILER is that Gwyneth Paltrow bites the big one. Or is it a spoiler at all? Even people who are extremely sensitive to spoilers typically acknowledge that anything contained in a movie’s trailer is fair game for discussion. By that definition, Paltrow’s passing in the trailer cannot be a spoiler.

Still, it’s a pretty unusual move to reveal a movie star’s death in a trailer. Sometimes studios go to great lengths to disguise the fact that a big-name actor dies early in a film. Charlize Theron’s character in “The Road” — SPOILER ALERT — kills herself before the events of the movie really begin, and she’s only seen in occasional flashbacks. But that film’s trailer uses some sneaky editing to make it seem like she is a part of the core group of characters throughout the entire narrative. Take a look:

The trailer for “Executive Decision” — SPOILER ALERT — basically shows you the moment where Steven Seagal’s character dies shockingly early in the film, but it’s portrayed as just another dramatic action beat. It doesn’t really qualify as a spoiler until you actually see the film.

The degree to which a trailer should or should not reveal the story of a film is an ongoing debate amongst filmmakers and critics. Some — like director Robert Zemeckis — believe that audiences are actually more interested in films when they know the ending, so trailers for his films (like “Cast Away” and “What Lies Beneath”) routinely reveal exactly where the story goes. I’ve always hated that attitude; why pay for the cow if I’ve already had the milk for free? On the other hand, marketing like “The Road” trailer is borderline deceptive, no? What if you knew nothing about the film except what the trailer told you and you went to see it only because you love Charlize Theron? You might be pretty disappointed.

It is a bummer that the “Contagion” trailer does kind of a ruin this major plot point of the film. I assume that Paltrow must die relatively early on (in the trailer, she looks like the first identified victim of the new disease) and Warner Brothers decided in this case to sacrifice surprise for suspense. They’re telling you Paltrow dies not to ruin that story beat but to suggest that no one is safe in this movie. If Soderbergh’ll bump off Goop, he’ll bump off anyone. Maybe even everyone, from the look of that trailer.

Do you think you-know-who’s death in the trailer of “Contagion” is a spoiler? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and 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.