DID YOU READ

“Sunshine”

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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).

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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.