DID YOU READ

The Miami Heatification of the Action Genre

The Miami Heatification of the Action Genre (photo)

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According to Todd Brown over at Twitch the franchise formerly known as “The Fast and the Furious” is not content to rest on its laurels. Having every actor who’d appeared in the franchise return for “Fast Five” and now for “Fast Six” and “Fast Seven” wasn’t enough. Brown reports that Universal’s “entering into preliminary conversations with Jason Statham to explore the possibility of the action star joining one or both films.”

Think about this for a moment. They might not all reappear in “Fast Six,” but “Fast Five” already featured Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Paul “I Don’t Have a Nickname” Walker. That’s already a bounty of beefcake. Now you’re going to cram Jason Statham in there as well? Don’t get me wrong — I’m an irrationally big fan of Jason Statham. But how are you going to divvy up all the screentime for these guys? They’re going to have to ditch the characters and call each other by their real names to save time on exposition.

It is interesting that Statham is the guy they’re targeting to boost “Fast Six”‘s all-star cast since he’s already a part of the other current all-star cast in action movies, “The Expendables.” That Sylvester Stallone jam featured Statham alongside Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Steve Austin, Randy Couture, and more. “Expendables 2” is just getting underway with most of the original cast, plus Jean-Claude Van Damme, plus Chuck Norris, plus Arnold Schwarzenegger and Bruce Willis expanding their cameos from the first movie into bigger supporting roles.

It’s also interesting that “The Expendables” premiered last summer on August 13, just over a month after LeBron James announced on a primetime television special that he was taking his talents to South Beach and joining up with fellow superstars Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh on the Miami Heat. All three guys formerly anchored their own teams; now all three would play together. Forecasters predicted short-term doom: the team couldn’t afford decent role players to fill out its roster and its bench was thin. Surely former alpha dogs like James and Wade couldn’t figure out how to coexist. Early season troubles seemed to validate those theories, but they figured it out well enough to make the NBA Finals in just their first year together. If the NBA can solve its lockout, other teams are going to have a lot of trouble solving the Miami Heat for years to come.

The timing is coincidental but curious. Between “The Expendables” and “Fast” franchises, are we seeing the Miami Heatification of action movies? It doesn’t seem like it’s enough for an action film to feature one studly actor these days — it’s got to feature all the studly actors in Hollywood. Even Statham’s last solo project, “Killer Elite,” brought in two other headliners, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro, to play his wingmen. If the goal is to make a movie to appeal to the widest possible audience, then the strategy makes perfect sense. By tripling your star power, the thinking goes, you triple your potential audience. But where do you draw the line? Will the veritable arms race between the “Expendables” and “Fast” series heat up until they join together into one mega-movie? Will we be talking about “The Fast and the Expendable” starring Stallone, Diesel, Statham, Walker, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Van Damme, and the ghost of Lee Marvin in 2015?

I don’t know. I do know that this looks more and more like a cinematic trend. A spirit of competition has been replaced by a spirit of merger and acquisition. You could argue “bigger is better” is one of Hollywood’s default ideas, and it kind of is. But this is something different. It’s hard to imagine Magic Johnson and Larry Bird playing together back in the day, and it’s equally hard to imagine Schwarzenegger and Stallone making a movie together back in the day. They were so obsessed with determining who was the biggest movie star they would have never joined forces (except to own Planet Hollywood, and we know how that turned out). Now, whether it’s because of their own mortality or the economics of securing increasingly elusive funding from the international market, they’re teaming up. Action movies are just the tip of the iceberg, too: check out the new wave of star-studded romantic comedies. Last year we had “Valentine’s Day” with Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway, Taylor Lautner, and many more; this year you can look forward to “New Year’s Eve” with Katherine Heigl, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Biel, Halle Berry, and Hilary Swank.

Magic and Bird did play together at one point: on the Dream Team. And what did the Dream team do at the Olympics? Conquer the entire basketball world. There wasn’t a ton of drama in their games, but sometimes a guaranteed win can be fun to watch (as long as you’re rooting for the winning team, of course). There’s a similar philosophy behind these new action franchises: if we all work together, this is a guaranteed win. And a sure thing is always better than a risk, in sports or in movies.

Do you think action movie casts are just going to get bigger and bigger? 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.