DID YOU READ

“Sunshine.”

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"Are you an angel?"
In "Sunshine," the newest film from Danny Boyle, the sun looms like the unseeing eye of an incomprehensibly vast god in front of a group of eight scientists who are traveling toward it to make one final plea for the continuation of mankind with the help of a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan. On the basis of this set-up, "Sunshine" makes a case for space existentialism. The sun, it offers, is as close a thing, empirically, as we’ll have to God: massive, awe-inspiring and responsible for the endurance of most life on Earth, it’s also insentient and therefore completely indifferent to humanity’s desperate flounderings for survival.

It’s a good thing Boyle, whose impossible to categorize career has leapt from bravura breakout "Trainspotting" to zombiepocalypse film "28 Days Later" to the slightly slushy kids flick "Millions," is always such an imminently watchable director. "Sunshine" may have some of the grand and solemn coffee shop philosophies of certain 70s sci-fi films, but it plays out like a smart, taut combination of "Event Horizon" and "2010." (Oh, hush now, "2010"’s not so bad.) You could also connect the dots to "2001," "Supernova," maybe even "Dark Star," but as Boyle himself points out, "these films tend to boil down to the same three ingredients: a ship, a crew and a signal." It how you use those ingredients that matters, and Boyle has teased out of his an often astoundingly suspenseful film. Its strength lies in its grounded physicality — we’re constantly aware of the fragility of the tenuous existence sustained by the crew of the inauspiciously named Icarus II (the Icarus I, launched seven years before, failed to complete its mission, its fate unknown).

The goal of the Icarus II is to reignite the sun, which, in 2057, is dying. The bomb, dropped into the center of the sun, will hopefully do this, though the ship’s physicist Capa (Cillian Murphy) acknowledges that the plan is entirely theoretical — they have no way of knowing if it will actually work. The other carefully selected crew members include the ship’s pilot (Rose Byrne), an engineer (Chris Evans), a navigator (Benedict Wong), a communications officer (Troy Garity), a psychiatrist (Cliff Curtis), a biologist (Michelle Yeoh) and the captain (Hiroyuki Sanada). It’s a uniformly gifted international cast, with Evans, previously known for strutting in a suit of computer-generated flames as Johnny Storm in the "Fantastic Four" films, is a nice surprise as the pragmatic Ace, who frequently clashes with Murphy’s abstract-minded Capa.

There is, always, a signal, and things start to go wrong when the Icarus II runs across one from the Icarus I, stalled out, apparently intact, right at the end of its journey. Capa makes the call that they’ll rendezvous with the apparently abandoned ship, thinking that two bombs, and two chances at dropping them, are better than one. Can anything good come of it? Has "Event Horizon" really dropped so far out of the public consciousness 50 years from now? "Sunshine" races to an effective ending, but is never quite as good as when the cabin feverish crew members were causing their own problems.

Boyle is always a gifted visual stylist, and "Sunshine" makes great use of running imagery of fire and ice, as well as of the sun itself, suitable daunting when glimpsed from an observation room through a heavily filtered screen. His best asset, though, may be Murphy, with his angular, boyish physique, otherworldly air, and sinister beauty — he’s a notably remote and unexpected potential savior of humanity.

"Sunshine" opens wide on July 20th.

+ "Sunshine" (Fox Searchlight)

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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.