DID YOU READ

“The Hobbit” trailer: Five scenes that made this Tolkien fan cheer (and why you should, too)

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The first trailer for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” debuted yesterday evening, prompting quite a bit of excitement around Middle-earth and, well… regular Earth, too. Director Peter Jackson’s impending return to J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic saga has everyone buzzing about the “Lord of the Rings” prequel today, and for good reason — the new trailer offered quite a bit of fan-friendly footage.

As one of the many devotees of all things Tolkien, I know I wasn’t alone in feeling a sudden urge to cheer during last night’s trailer premiere. Here are the five moments that contributed the most to my “Hobbit” hysteria.


1. Introductions Are Made

For many Tolkien fans, 1977’s animated adaptation of “The Hobbit” offered one of the first — and for quite a while, only — visual representations of Thorin and his band of dwarves that accompanied Bilbo on his great adventure. When Jackson finally released the first photos of his version of the dwarves, fans like myself couldn’t help imagining the traits of the dwarves we knew from the story mapped to these new, three-dimensional versions of Balin, Dwalin, fili, Kili, and the rest of the dwarves.

When each of the dwarves are introduced in the trailer, we not only get our first look at them in action, but we also get our first sense of how each dwarf’s personality will play into the adventure. Sure, it’s a lot to read into a short moment in the trailer, but for anyone who’s read and re-read their copy of The Hobbit, each dwarf is like an old friend.


2. Chip the Glasses, Crack the Plates…

Tolkien filled his original take on The Hobbit with excerpts from the songs sung by his characters. Sometimes the songs were celebratory, sometimes they told a story, and sometimes they were simply a bit of exposition intended to provide context and mood for what was to come. When Thorin and his company of dwarves utter the first few lines of “Misty Mountains Cold,” it became clear in an instant that Jackson not only realized the importance of these interludes, but has made every effort to preserve them in this new take on the story.

For those who haven’t seen the aforementioned animated adaptation of “The Hobbit,” take a moment to listen to the version of “Misty Mountains Cold” used in that 1977 film. Like the song heard in the trailer, it’s a haunting moment that conveys how much is at stake in their quest.


3. Sting, Revealed

As Tolkien fans are well aware, Frodo wasn’t the first to wield the magical sword called “Sting.” Not only was Bilbo the first to discover it, but he also gave it the name that made it one of Middle-earth’s most feared weapons. While I won’t spoil the circumstances that led to it receiving that name, I will admit that the brief scene in the trailer when Bilbo looks at it for the first time, well… it gave me a little shiver.

If you thought Sting saw a lot of action in “Lord of the Rings,” wait until you see what’s in store for it in “The Hobbit.”


4. Trolls!

Scenes of the Legolas, Aragorn, and the rest of Tolkien’s fellowship battling foes much bigger than them were commonplace in “The Lord of the Rings,” but when your main characters are a diminutive Hobbit and a band of dwarves, every battle takes on epic proportions. Around the 1:59 mark in the trailer, there’s a brief scene that appears to be the moment when the dwarves tussle with a group of trolls in the woods.

As anyone who’s read The Hobbit can attest, this is one of the group’s first big battles with enemies they encounter along their journey, and I can’t wait to see how Jackson brings moments like this to the screen. Sure, it was cool seeing Legolas and Aragorn wreck all manner of beast in “Lord of the Rings,” but it was the fellowship’s dwarf, Gimli, that I was watching in every scene.


5. Gollum and The One Ring

The linchpin of the entire “Lord of the Rings” saga is a simple, golden ring — and “The Hobbit” trailer offers our first glimpse of the One Ring as Bilbo first encounters it. With the success of the “Lord of the Rings” films, many fans will have encountered Tolkien’s tales in reverse order, and the subtle nods to Bilbo’s fate that he included in The Hobbit will likely mean that much more to audiences for Jackson’s prequel film.

The return of Andy Serkis as Gollum is also a welcome moment in the trailer, and serves as a great reminder of why he’s one of the best there is at what he does — and why he should never be overlooked as a major component of the films’ heart and soul.

What were some of your favorite moments from “The Hobbit” trailer? Chime in below or on Facebook or Twitter.

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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.
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Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
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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.
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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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