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“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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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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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.