DID YOU READ

“Jaws” co-writer Carl Gottlieb discusses the legacy of Universal

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When Carl Gottlieb was asked by Steven Spielberg to redraft his script for “Jaws,” he likely had no idea how big a cultural phenomenon the film would become. But now, 37 years later, he’s happy to reflect back on the most successful movie of his career in light of its debut on Blu-Ray August 14.

“You never know in advance. You find out afterwards. In some respect, it’s almost like a live performance,” Gottlieb told IFC when we spoke to him at the press day for the Blu-Ray release. “In film, when it’s locked, if it’s good, you don’t really know how good it is until it’s played for a few million people, and then after the fact you go, ‘Oh my god, we created at least a pop culture icon, if not a work of art.’ It’s not the ‘Mona Lisa,’ it’s not the cure for cancer, but it is one of the most popular movies ever, so there’s that.”

There certainly is that. Gottlieb, who also plays Meadows in the film, went on to write the book “The Jaws Log” about the movie’s long, difficult journey through production. That book and “Jaws” itself are things that modern filmmakers like Bryan Singer have looked back on to help them in their own careers.

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“The ‘Jaw Log’ puts the process in context,” Gottlieb said. “When you put it into the larger context of the history of movies and how everything that we do is built on the foundation laid by people who came before us, there’s not anything startling or revolutionary was done in ‘Jaws,’ but a number of things were done either for the first time or done as well as they could be done, given the technology of the time.”

In fact, what’s interesting about the production of “Jaws” is that the way Spielberg made the film is very different from how movies are made today. The lack of CGI meant that Spielberg could only rely on mechanical effects. The studio system and acting process were very different than how they are today. And yet there’s something to be gleaned from how Spielberg went on to make his masterpiece.

Part of that can be attributed to Spielberg’s meticulousness. Since they couldn’t use CGI to, say, erase a boat in the background of a shot being filmed on location in Nantucket Sound, Spielberg and his crew had to wait for it to sail out of frame. That’s likely why the movie ended up being over time and budget by the end of its production.

“That wasn’t the technology of the time so they made due with what they had and with Steven’s insistence on the guys have to be alone. We can’t see land and we can’t see boats, because otherwise why don’t they just turn around and get help?” Gottlieb explained. “So that’s an aesthetic decision that creates production problems but when you stay true to the decision, you wind up with a product that works for the audience.”

“Jaws” is a movie that has remained popular long after its release, which is part of the reason Universal chose to honor it with a Blu-Ray remastering during the studio’s 100-year anniversary. As “The Shark Is Still Working” producer J. Michael Roddy told IFC, the film created the summer blockbuster. We asked Gottlieb why he thinks “Jaws” is something that’s stood the test of time.

“The problems are pretty much the same that everybody faces in their life,” he said. “These three very different people have to cooperate or die because their enemy is this implacable villain who can’t be reasoned with, who can’t be outguessed because it only does one thing, and in the case of ‘Jaws,’ it’s keep after their ass. So these are really timeless elements.”

He continued, “All these elements are kind of universal. They’re constant. I mean, you could set the film on a beach in the Black Sea resort, you could do it in Cape Town, South Africa, you could do it in South Asia. If those elements are all present, the story is universal, and that’s what great stories are: they appeal to everybody across time, and ‘Jaws’ does that.”

“Jaws” is due out on Blu-Ray this Tuesday.

Do you plan on buying “Jaws” on Blu-Ray when it comes out? 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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