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Cillian Murphy Takes to “The Water”

Cillian Murphy Takes to “The Water” (photo)

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Cillian Murphy is the kind of guy who can call himself Kitten, put on a dress, make you believe he’s a girl, then make you forget everything else. His repertoire’s impressive and he is, like his characters, unquestionably memorable. Maybe it’s the eyes, maybe it’s the voice, but even his sinister roles are strangely comforting — something very genuine always comes through Mr. Murphy, a welcome exception in an era of green screens and Ponzi schemes.

His latest role is an unusual one, in a semi-experimental short film called “The Water,” inspired by the Feist song of the same name. It was directed by Kevin Drew, best known for his band/collective Broken Social Scene (of which Feist is also a member). “The Water”‘s a beautiful, nearly wordless piece that weaves a fixation on a wintry landscape with Feist’s song and a sad sort of fairytale. I called Murphy in Ireland to talk about the film and learned his family was mourning the loss of a loved one. Still, he set aside time to talk about the project, about conveying emotion through silence, and the ineffable mysteries of the human mind.

I read that you’re tight with Kevin Drew and Leslie Feist — is that how you became involved in the film, or were you approached before, and the friendship grew out of it?

Basically, I’ve been a fan of both Broken Social Scene and Feist’s music for a number of years now. I went to see Broken Social Scene play in London three years ago, maybe a bit longer, and met Kevin afterwards, briefly, and we kind of got on. A year or so later, he interviewed me for Under The Radar magazine, and we just stayed on the line after the interview. He said “Listen, I’d love to send you this thing I’ve been thinking about.” It was just before [Feist’s solo album] “The Reminder” had come out, I still hadn’t heard the record, and when I did, I thought it was just incredible. He told me about that song and said he had this idea. With the producer, Jannie [McInnes], they managed to pull the whole thing together very quickly, and all of the sudden it was “We’re gonna do it, can you come to Toronto in two weeks?” And I was like, sure, let’s do it. We shot it in like two days. There was never a script [laughs]. It just came about and I’m really proud of it.

Your character is interesting, clearly troubled by the goings on, stepping out for smokes, reluctant, anxious. Tell me about him.

I don’t really want to talk too much about it because I think it’s nicer when people take what they want from the piece. Without sounding too artsy fartsy, it’s a musical poem and you can take from it what you want, so I’m loathe to kind of give away my interpretation of it. But I think he’s very close to his dad, and his dad has had this loss in his life and so he’s trying to facilitate his dad reconciling himself to that loss, and unusual things happen! The way Kevin spoke about it — everything is very musical, the way he talks about it — and it was all about emotion. And I love that. It wasn’t at all intellectual, it was just about feelings.

04072009_thewater2.jpgYeah, the union of the music with the film is interesting to me…so you were highly aware of the song, stepping into the mood of the performance?

What appealed to me most about it when he told me about the idea [was that he said] this is going to be for all intents and purposes a silent movie. I think there are like four words of dialogue in the film, and I love that, the fact that you’ve got to act or convey emotion, just silently. It’s the hardest test of any actor, I think. Obviously, music then combined with that — that’s why music works so effectively in film when it’s done right. It can really just magnify emotions, and people feel or can identify more clearly [with] what’s happening with the characters.

Speaking of this and given the title, “The Water,” it’s interesting you actually see no water in the piece.

[laughs] No, it’s all frozen.

It’s often called ice. [laughter] What’s your take on the notion that water is often used to represent life, and ice its absence?

There are lots of things you can draw from it, because life [has been] suspended, shall we say, in my mother’s character [played by Feist]. When stuff is frozen, it’s suspended and frozen in time and all that. But again, I think people can take from it what they will, they may take nothing or they may take innumerable things. You’ve got to be very careful with something like this because it’s so delicate really.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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