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By Matt Singer

IFC News

[Photo: Cillian Murphy in “Sunshine,” Fox Searchlight, 2007]

Their first mistake was naming their ship the Icarus. Icarus, a character from Greek mythology, was able to fly on artificial wings, but grew too enamored with his power, flew too close to the sun, melted his wings and fell to his death. I certainly get the symbolism, but if you were on a last-ditch mission to save all of humanity by delivering a nuclear bomb the size of Manhattan to the heart of the sun, wouldn’t you name the rocket you were traveling in something a bit more optimistic?

Their second mistake was in embarking on this mission during a Danny Boyle thriller. The talented director of brutal films like “Shallow Grave” and “28 Days Later” has no compunction about putting his casts, and his audience, through emotional roller coasters. If you were headed to the sun in a Spielberg film, you probably stand a better-than-even shot of coming home alive. In Boyle’s version, the crew of the Icarus is looking down the wrong end of some seriously long odds. Boyle’s films aren’t “feel-good” entertainment — but they are feel-something entertainment, which should count for something nowadays.

Their third mistake is a well-intentioned bad decision. Technically, the eight heroes looking to save mankind are aboard the Icarus II — Icarus I was lost before it could deliver its payload — and when the crew orbits Mercury, the planet’s iron content acts as a huge antennae. Harvey, the communications officer (Troy Garity), picks up the Icarus I’s distress signal and Captain Kaneda (Hiroyuki Sanada) puts it to the man in charge of their stellar bomb, Capa (Cillian Murphy): investigate the Icarus I, and potentially acquire another payload and another change to reignite the sun, or maintain their course and their mission. Capa reasons that two bombs and two chances are better than one and one, so the crew intercepts their drifting predecessor. And then things go horribly wrong.

“Sunshine” has been marketed as a cerebral science-fiction film (it even prompted us to discuss that very topic on this week’s IFC News Podcast) but it’s much more visceral than that. To be sure, there are plenty of “big ideas” — mostly about the morality of mankind intervening in God’s plan for the Earth, and whether such a God or a plan even exists at all — but at times, especially near the end, this is more “Jason X” than “2001: A Space Odyssey,” if only “Jason X” were a good film with characters we cared about.

Once the Icarus II heads to Icarus I, the entire movie is like a giant cinematic sweat box, and that’s meant as a compliment. The crew members are closer than anyone has ever been to the source of all life, and imminent death hangs around every corner. “Sunshine”‘s trailer employed the score from “Requiem For a Dream,” and that’s a fitting choice — I walked out of both films with a similar feeling of exhaustion, like I’d run a marathon without the requisite training.

Boyle’s grip on our emotions is so precise it’s nearly as frightening as the film itself: few filmmakers are as adept at wringing terror out of an empty room or a simple pile of dust. He’s such a capable filmmaker, he gets us so wrapped up in the Icarus’ plight that we don’t have time to notice just how silly some of the film is. In someone else’s hands, the idea of a crispy naked guy shouting philosophical gibberish while breathing heavily would be absolutely laughable. At moments like that, Boyle flies pretty close to the sun. But his wings are made of stronger stuff than wax.

“Sunshine” opens in wide release on July 20th (official site).


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



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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GIFs via Giphy

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.”


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. 


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.