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DID YOU READ

Five reasons guys should check out “The Hunger Games”

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While Suzanne Collins’ three-book series The Hunger Games has often been billed as the next Twilight thanks to its popularity in the young-adult crowd, anyone who’s read the post-apocalyptic trilogy knows that such comparisons couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, the section where you’ll find the two series in a book store is just about the only thing The Hunger Games and Twilight have in common.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the government forces children from each of 12 “districts” to kill each other in a competition for valuable resources, The Hunger Games relegates romance to a supporting role in the narrative while focusing on brutal, life-or-death survival in a world manufactured to ensure competitors meet the bloodiest ends possible.

With “The Hunger Games” movie arriving in theaters this week, it seemed like a good time to tackle some of the misconceptions about the series head-on, and offer some (occasionally tongue-in-cheek) reasons why the premiere of Collins’ trilogy on the big screen should be a red-letter day for guys who love gritty action movies and wild sci-fi adventures, too.


Take one part “Battle Royale,” add a pinch of “The Running Man,” shake violently

One of the strongest cases to be made for The Hunger Games crossing the divide between gender stereotypes is that the story feels like something inspired by that period during the late ’70s and ’80s that gave us films like “Escape From New York” and “The Road Warrior.” The world of The Hunger Games is a bleak version of our own, set at a time after war and other calamities send us scrambling back to the dark ages. Sure, one or two districts live in a utopian, jet-car paradise, but the rest of the world huddles in the dark and dies starving. What’s more, The Hunger Games takes that dystopian ’80s vibe and injects it with some of the slick action and edginess that’s common in some of the last few decades’ most memorable future-gone-bad tales (a la Battle Royale and Children of Men). Basically, it’s the best of both worlds — but they’re not the sort of worlds you’d like to visit for too long.


Insert quarter to continue killing each other…

Gamers should feel right at home when it comes to the pacing of The Hunger Games and the way in which the win-or-die competitions are presented in the series. Without giving too much of the story away, competitors in The Hunger Games are forced to not only kill each other, but also to survive the traps within each game environment. Like the levels of a video game, the setting of each competition is a carefully manufactured stage, filled with different types of environmental obstacles.

On top of that, the children from each district typically specialize in one type of skill or another, adding another layer of complexity to the competition. (Can the kids who grew up in the lumber district beat the kids from the mining district?) Much like the classes of characters you create in a good role-playing game, each competitor in The Hunger Games needs to make the best use of his or her skill set to survive.


She gives love a bad name (and that’s a good thing)

Unlike many of the books classified as young-adult fare, The Hunger Games features a protagonist who couldn’t care less about catching a boy’s attention or falling in love. More of a Mad Max character than a Bella Swan or Sookie Stackhouse, Katniss Everdeen is a female lead who can “man up” with the best action heroes when necessary, and knows better than to get lost in someone’s eyes when there’s a job to be done. Basically, Katniss is the teenage-girl version of hard-luck “Die Hard” hero John McClane.


Mutant dogs, acid clouds, and evil monkeys, oh my!

Remember those environmental “traps” I mentioned? Well, along with natural dangers like quicksand or rockslides, the children competing in the games also have to contend with an array of unnatural threats that seem to come from the depths of pulp sci-fi and horror tales. Imagine a 12-year-old girl being chased by a pack of mutated dogs with razor-sharp teeth and you’ll start to get the picture here (and it’s not a pretty picture). As if a bunch of kids killing each other in a crazy, televised contest wasn’t enough, The Hunger Games pushes things to the next level, and will provide a pleasant surprise to sci-fi or fantasy fans expecting a typical young-adult adventure.


You saw Jennifer Lawrence at last year’s Oscars, right?

Whether it’s men or women that get you hot and bothered, there’s no denying the beauty of “The Hunger Games” actress Jennifer Lawrence. While this last point only applies to the upcoming big-screen adaptation of The Hunger Games, it’s an important point to make. Simply put, Lawrence has achieved the sort of visual appeal that transcends gender preference and puts her in the realm of universal hotness. Seriously, folks, just look at her. And she’s a pretty great actress, too — which is nice.


Did I make a good case for “The Hunger Games”? 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.