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Bana and the Beast

Bana and the Beast (photo)

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Eric Bana bought “the Beast,” a 1973 Ford GT Falcon Coupe, when he was a 15-year-old growing up in the suburbs of Melbourne. And he’s kept it, over 25 years that have spanned a successful stand-up and sketch comedy in Australia, an acclaimed break-out performance in 2000’s “Chopper” and Hollywood stardom that’s included roles under Ridley Scott (“Black Hawk Down”), Ang Lee (“Hulk”) and Steven Spielberg (“Munich”). That car, the genuine relationship someone can have with an automobile and a five-day rally race held in Tasmania all factor into Bana’s rather unexpected directorial debut, “Love the Beast.” Part personal documentary, part automotive love story, the film follows Bana as he races the restored Beast with help from his childhood friends, interweaving the footage with meditations on the ties between man and motor car, and interviews with faces famous (Jay Leno) and not. I talked to Bana a few days before his film’s premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 29th about racing, car movies and the impact of “Mad Max” on an Australian boyhood.

A chicken and egg question: Did you want to make a film first and then decide to make one about your love of cars? Or did making a film on the topic seem a natural extension of this lifelong love you’ve had?

I always wanted to make a film, but it wasn’t something that was at the front of my mind. As someone who used to write a lot when he was doing sketch comedy and stand-up, I thought, well, if I ever have an idea for a narrative, one day I’d love to do it. But I wasn’t writing scripts with an eye to direct or anything like that.

[“Love the Beast”] came about because my producing partner Peter Hill has a company that makes a lot of surf documentaries. I don’t surf, but I remember watching them one day and saying to him, “The thing that really annoys me about car films is they never made me feel the same way I feel about surf films.” When I watch a surf film I feel like I know what it must be like to surf. And car films kind of do the opposite.

The idea just grew. I one day went, “Well, essentially what’s not being captured is this thing that I’ve experienced in my life and that relationship with a car.” And as I thought about it, I realized that turning that into a documentary was its best chance to work, better than a narrative. It was born out of a desire to tell an emotional story.

04272009_ericbana4.jpgThat said, you’ve got some beautiful footage of racing. Can you tell me a bit about that aspect of the film? There are cameras mounted on the car and inside, and also a lot of helicopter footage…

Once I decided to make [the film], it was with an absolute intention to make it as cinematic as possible. I didn’t want to approach the production cheaply. I wanted it to look as great as it could with the budget and tools that we had, based on the amount I’ve been exposed to [with] photography and the fact that as a driver I know what it’s like to be in the cabin. I wanted the audience to feel that.

You bought your car when you were 15. Do you know anyone else who’s held on to their first automobile for as long?

Not personally, no. I’ve heard stories of people who have. Jay [Leno]’s had a few cars for a long, long time.

What’s the status of the car now? The end of the film finds it in need of some work.

It’s still as you [last] see it, unfortunately. I’ve just been so busy with the film. If I hadn’t made it I probably would have fixed the car by now, which is quite ironic.

As someone who grew up in a suburban town, do you think that a suburban upbringing can be vital to a love of cars?

Most definitely. Distance was a big factor when I was growing up — to visit your mate, it’d be 30-40 minutes on your BMX bike. So you dreamed of getting your license because having a car was an essential part of how you got from “A” to “B.” There was no public transport infrastructure where I lived, or very little. So it was a given that you needed a car to get to where you needed to go.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

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.

via GIPHY

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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