DID YOU READ

“Jaws” documentary writer J. Michael Roddy explains why “the shark Is still working”

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Considering the fact that “Jaws” continues to be popular even in its 37th year, it is easy to see that Steven Spielberg‘s first feature film is as effective as it’s ever been. Or, as documentary producer J. Michael Roddy would say, the shark is still working.

Roddy used to work as Universal Orlando’s Manager of Show Development and Senior Show Director, so it is easy to understand why he has a stake in the company’s back catalogue. But it was clear when speaking to him at the press day for the upcoming “Jaws” Blu-ray, out Tuesday, that he’s been a longtime fan of the classic. Back in 2007, Roddy created a documentary called “The Shark Is Still Working” that included new interviews with Steven Spielberg, John Williams and Richard Dreyfuss, and fans are going to finally get to see it on the Blu-ray release that will honor Universal’s 100th anniversary.

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“When we interviewed Steven, he’s fantastic. He’s a film geek. He’s a walking knowledge base of film, and it was such a wonderful time, we just had a blast. But you think about it and you think about the films he’d done before that — he’d done a lot for television and he had ‘Duel,’ which was a TV movie, and then also ‘Sugarland Express’ — but all of those were very different types of films,” Roddy explained of his experience making the documentary. “‘Jaws’ really established the style of Steven Spielberg that we know today. That’s the film I think we can hearken back to and say, ‘There’s the beginning of the man that made “Raiders” and the man that made “E.T.” and all the films that we love so much.'”

Roddy cited Laurent Bouzereau’s 1995 documentary “The Making of Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jaws'” as the reason he went out and got a laser disc player at the time, so it’s clear that he wanted to create something that would have a similar effect on a new generation a decade later. Since Bouzereau had focused on the production of “Jaws,” Roddy explained that he wanted to focus on what happened after that: its legacy, its impact on society, and the fact that it has inspired and terrified so many people since.

It’s not news that Spielberg and the rest of his cast and crew had a difficult time bringing “Jaws” to the big screen, but Roddy said he was still taken aback by the fact that they had no idea back in 1974 just how big the movie would become a year later. “I don’t think any of them really understood,” he said. “They were like, ‘It’s a hit! That’s great!’ And even now, all the interviews, there’s still kind of this shock and awe that it’s this entity that’s lasted 35 years.”

Roddy continued, “I think ‘Jaws’ came out at the right time for America and the world. We had just had a devastating war that was wrapping up, and also the films of the early ’70s were very gritty and real. Fantastic, but they weren’t entertaining, per se. And ‘Jaws’ is a piece of entertainment. I mean, it’s pure Steven Spielberg entertainment.”

In addition to that, it’s a film that many can relate to. Shark attacks are a valid fear, though they don’t happen as frequently as one might think. Spielberg capitalized on that terror and turned it into a quality thriller that is rooted in reality while also being pure fantasy.

“The shark still works because every generation will discover ‘Jaws’ and be terrified by it,” Roddy said. “The shark didn’t work in 1974, but when it hit theaters, that shark worked really well. It worked amazing. It created a whole genre called the summer blockbuster. And now, some 37 years later, here we have the Blu-ray released and it looks better than ever.”

The Blu-ray production returned back to the original 35mm film of “Jaws” and lovingly transferred the movie frame-by-frame to a digital format. Because of that, Roddy believes that it will open the movie up to a whole new generation while making it even more accessible to those who have been fans since the beginning.

“I think ‘Jaws’ is a signature piece. It is Steven Spielberg’s first film that really put his name out there. It also was the creation of the summer blockbuster,” Roddy explained of the film’s legacy. “‘Jaws’ was a piece of entertainment that said to families, ‘Go to the movies in the summer. Don’t just send your kids. Everybody go, and we are going to scare the heck out of you.'”

“Jaws” hits Blu-Ray on August 14.

Do you plan to pick up the Blu-ray of “Jaws”? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and 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.
Die Hard dance

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.
Die Hard thank you

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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