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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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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.