DID YOU READ

Is Johnny Depp the next Nicolas Cage?

Is Johnny Depp the next Nicolas Cage? (photo)

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Nic Cage was incandescent in “Moonstruck.” Then something happened. The bad film choices, the bad life choices and, we cannot fail to note, the eccentric fudgesicle stories all sort of overtook what was once a very promising and serious film career. Let me put it this way: no one would question whether or not Meryl Streep or, say, Daniel Day-Louis was a vampire. I’m just saying that there might be a gravitas deficit with Nic Cage.

It may be too late for Cage to break out of this negative turn, but it is not too late for Johnny Depp. Cage and Depp have had not dissimilar careers, though Depp’s is, at the moment, far hotter. No one begrudges Johnny Depp for taking “the stupid money” — rumored to be over $300 million for playing Jack Sparrow — if that is what is being put on the table. He has kids — we get that; private school tuition — we get that.

But no one is forcing Depp to take the stupid roles that he has agreed to of late along with those piles of stupid money. That’s the problem.

Johnny Depp’s quirky characters charmed us in the beginning. But quirky lines, particularly when delivered in a faux British accent, eventually becomes cloying after a while. And it has been a while since Depp has really challenged himself and his audience on a role that didn’t rest on its quirky laurels.

Johnny Depp is an immensely talented, good looking actor, one of the few top box office earners in a decidedly post A-list digitally more democratic age. He doesn’t need to be doing quirky for the sake of quirky. That gets old and, further, even quirky roles lose their indie cred if repeated ad nauseum. Depp needs to bring his earning power and his audience along with him to more challenging work. We want Johnny to take our relationship with his work to the next level. Johnny Depp is so damn talented he could probably convince an audience to suspend their disbelief as he convincingly portrays a Rwandan woman. You know he could do it; you just know he could.

What has Depp to lose? Johnny may fail spectacularly in moving away from his signature eccentric niche, his comfort zone, that which has won him and the suits a fortune. That’s a risky proposition in a risk-averse town, turning 180-degrees. But Depp has earned the right veer radically left. Johnny Depp needs to too spend some of that well-earned Hollywood capital, and do it soon because his career, IMHO, is smelling kind of Nic Cage-y.

Risk is what makes the world turn. Risk — think off-Broadway, nightly — is what makes acting exciting. Taking risks is what we have come to expect of true independent spirits, of working without a net. And it is pretty damn difficult to use the term “independent spirit” in the company of a vehicle as soulless as “Pirates of the Carribean, 4.” Just saying.

Agree or disagree with Ron? Leave your own thoughts 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.