In February of 2008, IFC re-launched their website which included a brand new music blog, The Independent Ear. A struggling out-of-work VJ (i.e., me) was scooped up off the streets to contribute to this online blog-nificent publication. Right now, you are reading the Indie Ear’s 100th blog posting (cue the balloons and confetti falling from the ceiling)!
(left: I plowed through our yearly budget by purchasing these balloons, but it was well worth it! Ain’t no party like a 100th Blog Posting Party!)
I promise not to throw another celebration like this until we hit our 500th post. For out 1000th post, I’m already in discussion with the reunited Led Zeppelin to perform live on an episode of Lunchbox. Bloggers who have been at this for a while may see this particular post as an act of laziness to merely reach the century mark (or to reach my blog quota for the day). For all the naysayers out there, I say this, “You are absolutely correct!” I’m as see-through as a pair of black-rimmed glasses without frames.
To all of you who have supported us through our first 100 blogs, thank you for your efforts and have a great weekend! Make sure you check back here for the Final Four results of Indie Ear Madness (even though some of those professional bloggers may hate, they got to respect the “weekend” post). We’re working overtime this week to bring you some quality Indie Ear bloggin’!
You know his name, as the Super Bowl teaser for the upcoming summer blockbuster Jason Bourne reminded us. In this era of franchise films, that seems to be more than enough to get another entry in the now 15-year-old series greenlit. And gosh darn it if we aren’t into it. Before you catch The Bourne Ultimatum on IFC, here are some surprising facts about the Bourne movies that you may not know. And unlike Jason Bourne, try not to forget them.
10. Matt Damon was a long shot to play Jason Bourne.
Coming off of Good Will Hunting and The Legend of Bagger Vance, early ’00s Matt Damon didn’t exactly scream “ripped killing machine.” In fact, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe and even Sylvester Stallone were all offered the part before it fell into the hands of the Boston boy made good. It was his enthusiasm for director Doug Liman’s more frenetic vision that ultimately helped land him the part.
9. Love interest Marie was almost played by Sarah Polley.
Damon wasn’t the only casting surprise. Franka Potente, of Run Lola Run fame, wasn’t the filmmaker’s first choice for the role or Marie in The Bourne Identity. In fact, Liman wanted his Go star Sarah Polley for the part, but she turned it down in favor of making indie movies back in Canada. A quick rewrite changed the character from American Marie Purcell to European Marie Helena Kreutz, and the rest is movie history.
8. Director Doug Liman was obsessed with the Bourne books.
Liman had long been a fan of the Bourne book series. When Warner Bros.’ rights to the books lapsed in the late ’90s, Liman flew himself to author Robert Ludlum’s Montana home, mere days after earning his pilot’s license. The author was so impressed with his passion for the material, he sold the rights on the spot.
7. Liman’s father actually worked for the NSA.
Part of Liman’s fasciation with the Bourne series was that his own father played the same spy craft games portrayed in the books while working for the NSA. In fact, many of the Treadstone details were taken from his father’s own exploits, and Chris Cooper’s character, Alex Conklin, was based on Oliver Stone, whom Arthur Liman famously cross examined as chief counsel of the Iran-Contra hearings.
6. Tony Gilroy threw the novel’s story out while writing The Bourne Identity.
Despite being based on a hit book, screenwriter Tony Gilroy, coming off of The Devil’s Advocate, had no idea how to adapt it into a movie. He said the book was more concerned with people “running to airports” than character, and would need a complete rewrite. Director Doug Liman agreed, and Gilroy claims to have condensed the original novel into the first five minutes. Getting that out of the way, he then wrote his own story, based on a man who wakes up one day not remembering anything but how to kill.
5. Damon walked like a boxer to get into character.
Damon had never played a character like Bourne before, and was searching for a way to capture his physicality. Doug Liman told him to walk like a boxer to give Jason Bourne an edge. Damon took that to heart, training for six months in boxing, marital arts and firearms.
4. Damon broke an actor’s nose.
Damon’s training for the films is legendary, but mistakes still happen. While filming a scene for The Bourne Ultimatum, Damon hit actor Tim Griffin so hard, he shattered his nose. Apparently, the space the scene was filmed in was smaller than originally intended, throwing Damon off just enough to exert a real beat down.
3. James Bond visited The Bourne Legacy set.
Actor Daniel Craig stopped by the set of The Bourne Legacy to visit his wife, actress Rachel Weisz, who was starring in the movie. While having James Bond on a Bourne set must have been exciting, The Bourne Legacy was the only Bourne movie to not actually feature Jason Bourne, meaning our bets on who would kick whose ass would have to wait for another day.
2. The Bourne Identity was nearly a bomb (in the box office sense).
As reshoots began to pile up, and an all-out war between the studio and director Doug Liman spilled into the press, expectations were that The Bourne Identity was going to flop. Matt Damon told GQ that, “the word on Bourne was that it was supposed to be a turkey…It’s very rare that a movie comes out a year late, has four rounds of reshoots, and it’s good.”
1. Matt Damon wasn’t the first actor to play Bourne.
Warner Brothers Television
Aired on ABC in 1988, the TV movie adaptation of The Bourne Identity, while not exactly critically acclaimed, was a more faithful version of Ludlum’s book. Richard Chamberlain, of The Thorn Birds fame, played a much less ass-kicking spy, while “Charlie’s Angel” Jaclyn Smith played love interest Marie. If you like your Bourne movies heavy with poorly lit ’80s melodrama, this might just be the adaptation for you. Otherwise, you should catch The Bourne Ultimatum when it airs this month on IFC.
In the early ’90s, The X-Files was a cultural happening, right up there with Pogs and the Bartman. It hit at a perfect moment, spawning catchphrases and racy fan fiction that helped shape the early days of the Internet. With The X-Files: Fight the Future and The X-Files: I Want to Believe airing this month on IFC, we thought we’d revisit some of the scariest episodes the show ever produced. Wake up your inner ’90s child, and let them know they won’t being going to sleep tonight, because the truth is out there, and it is freaking terrifying.
12. “Our Town,” Season Two
We all know small towns have something to hide, at least on The X-Files. That certainly proved true in this second season episode that made us rethink our eating habits. When The X-Files did horror, the writers always strived to find a new slant on an old genre. Here, that meant taking the iconography of cannibals, masked murderers and factory farming, and whipping them together into a uniquely scary stew. “Our Town” isn’t a perfect episode, falling into cliché at times (Scully pulls the damsel in distress routine for the umpteeth time), but it more than makes up for its faults with some genuine scares.
11. “Chinga,” Season Five
What do you get when you combine the greatest horror show of its time with the greatest horror author of the century? The answer is this fifth season episode, penned by Stephen King himself, about a mind controlling killer doll come to life. Whether it’s clawing out your own eyes, or stabbing yourself with a hammer, this stuffed little lady is impossible to say no to. While the episode received mixed reviews, for any fan of King, it’s a must watch. If nothing else, the surprise the network got when they learned that “Chinga” is actually a curse word in Spanish must’ve been pretty terrifying.
10. “Eve,” Season One
Nothing is scarier than twins. That’s just a fact. But what if those creepy twins were just the tip of the iceberg? What if countless clones were made in some secret government lab, all with one purpose… Murder! That’s the idea here, as Mulder and Scully face off against a ragtag band of grimy killer clones, who will just as soon bite your head off as look at you. “Eve” was a creepy first season episode that demonstrated what a mastery of genre the show would have moving forward.
9. “The Host,” Season Two
For any of us that have worried about what monsters may be lurking in the toilet, this episode confirmed our very worst fears. An early effort at the “Monster-of-the-Week” format that would come to define the show, it’s far from a perfect episode. But what it does do effectively is create a creepy monster with a freakish sucker face that plays on our unspoken fears of the unknown. An early indicator of what this show was capable of, “The Host” (and Flukeman) still freaks us out enough to make the list.
8. “Folie à Deux,” Season Five
There’s nothing scarier than losing your mind. That’s what this season five episode explored, when Mulder found himself seeing monsters no one else could. Was he cracking up? Or were they real (and unstoppable) because no one would believe him? Which is really more terrifying? A spooky outing full of fun ideas and creepy visuals, this was one of the few episodes that made you wonder if Mulder was going to find a way out of it in one piece.
7. “Irresistible,” Season Two
The X-Files would do anything for a scare, even if it meant dropping the supernatural for an episode and showing us how terrifying man can be without all the aliens and ghosts to get in the way. “Irresistible” focused on a Scully-obsessed serial killer who takes misogyny to the next level, killing women and keeping their hair and fingers as trophies. The episode stands out thanks to a furiously creepy performance from Nick Chinlund, who imbues his killer with an oily smugness. Featuring one of the show’s all-time best guest spots, this episode really showed why you should trust no one.
6. “Die Hand Die Verletzt,” Season Two
Everyone knows that substitute teachers are a bunch of pushovers. Well, that doesn’t seem to be the case in Milford Haven, New Hampshire, where desks are filled with student’s eyes and hearts, instead of homework. This season two episode explored what happens when those we trust with our kids prey upon them. While the story was fairly conventional, the scares were intense, playing out ritual sacrifice and supernatural suicide against a backdrop of typical high school drama.
5. “Patient X,” Season Five
Most of the truly scary, full-blown horror episodes of The X-Files were stand alone, and separate from the show’s larger mythology. This episode is different. Diving head first into the show’s labyrinthine plot about alien invasion, “Patient X” showed how terrifying visitors from outer space could be. There’s lots of dark moments here. Bodies burned alive. Alien infections. But none compare to the visual of the infected, their bloody eyes and mouths sewn shut, coming for us all. One of the most striking visuals the show ever came up with, it was a moment that turned an episode that was for true blue fans into something that could freak out just about anybody.
4. “Sanguinarium,” Season Four
Talk about medical malpractice. This fourth season episode explored the trust we place in our doctors to not go batty and start ritually sacrificing us while they’re all up in our guts. Plastic surgery was just becoming a way of life in the ’90s, which meant it was a fertile subject for satire. And what is horror but satire with blood? X-Files creator Chris Carter saw the potential in exploring the glamorous industry’s dark underbelly of vanity and pride. It’s not much of a leap from paying a doctor thousands of dollars for the perfect body to selling your soul for one. And, of course, there’s plenty of blood to boot.
3. “Field Trip,” Season Six
This sixth season episode was a head-trip, for both the characters and the audience. What’s real and what’s a hallucination? In the episode, Mulder and Scully both find themselves under the effects of a potent, psychotropic spore that causes them to vividly hallucinate. We see them kidnap aliens and die horrible deaths, all while still trapped inside their own minds. Each time we think they’ve made it free, we realize this is just another layer of fantasy. A mind-tripping horror show that leave us on the edge of our seats, “Field Trip” was one of the most innovative and freaky episodes in the show’s run.
2. “Detour,” Season Five
You’re lost in the woods, being hunted by a monster you can’t see. AND you have to deal with some serious sexual tension with your work wife to boot. That’s the premise of this classic episode from the show’s fifth season which pits Mulder and Scully against nature itself, by way of a chameleon-like “Monster-of-the-Week.” The monster in this episode was one of the show’s best, blending into its surrounding just enough to be anywhere, while always tipping us off with its disturbing, glowing eyes. If we can all agree to ignore its similarities to Predator, this is one of the show’s very best episodes.
1. “Home,” Season Four
One of the most controversial outings in the show’s history, this season four episode was so brutal, so graphic, and so disturbing that some fans felt like they’d been betrayed. In a sense, this episode posits what would happen if Mulder and Scully wandered into The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but with a bit less chainsaw, and bit more inbred freaks. The show would never again create freaks as disturbing as The Peacocks, who were almost scarier for their way of life than their brutal murders.
There are many things to love comedian Kumail Nanjiani for. His hilarious stand-up. His role on Silicon Valley. His all-star cameos on Portlandia, including this week’s episode where he informs Fred about The Cloud. Heck, he’s even set to host the 2016 Spirit Awards Feb. 27th on IFC. But the thing that’s perhaps most surprising, and most endearing, is his deep love, bordering on obsession, for The X-Files. No one, and we mean no one, has done more with their appreciation of the ’90s cult hit than Mr. Nanjiani, who’s turned a love of the show into a flourishing side career. With The X-Files returning to television, and the movies airing on IFC, we know you want to believe in Kumail’s super-fandom. Well, trust us, the truth is out there. Here are just a few examples.
5. He has a podcast dedicated to the show
For a year and a half, Kumail has hosted The X-Files Files, a podcast in which he and a guest break down specific episodes of the long-running show. Now 56 episodes deep, the podcast has welcomed everyone from Paul Scheer to Jack Black to Fox Mulder himself, David Duchovny. This is a deep dive into all things X-Files from someone who knows what it’s like to be obsessedwith Mulder and Scully.
4. He moderated the X-Files Comic-Con panel
Kumail joked that he tried to wait as long as possible before accepting the offer to host the X-Files panel at last year’s Comic-Con, because he didn’t want to seem desperate. He lasted 30 seconds.
3. He hosted his own X-Files marathon
20th Century Fox Television
Kumail hosted a binge watcher’s dream for X-files fans in Los Angeles in anticipation of the new season. The marathon played six classic episodes, including the terrifying “Home” and the Bryan Cranston-fronted “Drive.” Show writers Glen Morgan and James Wong stopped by to share trivia, like how they made Mulder obsessed with Elvis Presley just to annoy Duchovny.
2. He thought The X-Files was a true story
Growing up in Pakistan, Kumail had limited access to American pop culture. As he told Conan, episodes of The X-Files had a warning before each episode, stating that they were based on true stories. This, unsurprisingly, blew his mind. It turned out to be a huge disappointment when he finally moved to the States, and realized how few aliens and monsters we really had.
1. He’s on the freaking show
Suffice it to say, all this love has not gone unnoticed. When it was announced that The X-Files was coming back to television, Nanjiani fans knew they had to get their boy on the show. A Change.org petition was set up, demanding he be cast on the new season. This tidal wave of support garnered 91 signatures. Okay, not exactly a movement, but it turns out it didn’t matter. Nanjiami secured a part on his own, and will be in next week’s episode, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.” He told Comic Book Resources that he had to call his wife from the set to help him get through a scene because he couldn’t remember his lines. She urged him to calm down, and just think of it as any other show. He, of course, said, “I can’t! They look like Mulder and Scully!”
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