DID YOU READ

“Kick-Ass,” “Cyrus” and Looking Pretty

“Kick-Ass,” “Cyrus” and Looking Pretty (photo)

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Coming to you from the 2010 SXSW Film Festival, this week’s IFC News podcast tackles such pressing topics as: Does “Kick-Ass” indeed kick ass? Can “Cyrus” bring new life to classic rom-com ideas? How do the members of the close-knit Austin filmmaking community manage to act in and crew each other’s projects while also finishing their own? Do “Cold Weather” and “NY Export: Opus Jazz‎” make the case that indie films can look amazing even on a budget? And when is Matt going to drink that bowl of queso?

Download: MP3, 46:21 minutes, 42.4 MB

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There’s no Keyword Game giveaway this week, since we’re on the road. We’ll announce the winner of last week’s prize, the White Stripes documentary box set, in the next episode.

Underworld

Under Your Spell

10 Otherworldly Romances That’ll Melt Your Heart

Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.

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Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection

Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes.  It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all.  Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.

1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series

The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes!  Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?


2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.

Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.


3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series

The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.


4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man

After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.


5. Molly/Sam, Ghost

When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.

When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.


6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black

It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.

Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.


7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings

On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.

Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?


8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood

True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).

In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.


9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series

There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.

Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!


10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who

Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.

But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.

The indefatigable “Elektra Luxx.”

The indefatigable “Elektra Luxx.” (photo)

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Reviewed (sort of) at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival.

Sometimes the movie gods smile upon you, though Sebastian Guitierrez probably wasn’t feeling that way during the SXSW premiere of “Elektra Luxx.” Roughly an hour and ten minutes into the sequel to last year’s crowdpleaser “Women in Trouble,” you could hear the voices of Marley Shelton and Carla Gugino scheming again. The only problem was you couldn’t see them. As a panicked Gutierrez and others retreated to the back of the Paramount Theater to find out what was wrong, the film continued to play — audio only — and the murmurs began to rustle through the crowd. Soon enough, the lights went up at the Paramount and after people began biding the time by talking about the musical number Gugino had just finished in the film or having their picture taken with a captive Malin Akerman, who hadn’t yet actually shown up in the film yet, Gutierrez valiantly took to the stage to apologize for the projection problem.

This would be the moment at most screenings where people would be leaving the theater, but only a few of the 1000-plus that were at the packed Paramount did so. Instead, Gutierrez started a self-effacing mile-a-minute ramble about everything from why Akerman hadn’t appeared in the movie (“there was no film in the camera”) to asking if there was anyone from Canon Canadians in the crowd who could lend him a 7D hi-def camera for his next film. Well, actually the one after his next film, which would be “Girl Walks Into a Bar,” what he claimed was the first film with a cast of notable stars including Rosario Dawson, Zachary Quinto and Robert Forster that will premiere directly online on Hulu and YouTube. (The film, much like the anthology style of “Women in Trouble,” was shot in 11 days and features 10 interconnected vignettes set in a bar.) Although Gutierrez admitted he couldn’t juggle or tap dance — though he did do a little soft shoe — the rapt audience was glued to their seats.

03152010_ElektraLuxx2.jpgAnd none of it could’ve happened if “Elektra Luxx” wasn’t something worthwhile and the audience wasn’t as invested in it as the actresses involved were. The cast joined Gutierrez onstage for an impromptu Q & A slightly after SXSW Film chief Janet Pierson breathlessly stepped up to tell the audience that the projector was being looked at and compared the experience to a San Francisco Film Festival screening of “She’s Gotta Have It” where she killed 45 minutes with Spike Lee until the film came back up. Gutierrez’s film never did and ultimately Pierson told the audience to keep an eye on Twitter and the SXSW web site for a makeup screening.

And expect many to return. Like its predecessor, “Elektra Luxx” is incredibly uneven since it seems like it comes directly from Gutierrez’s subconscious, full of wild diversions (like I said, there’s a musical number that comes out of nowhere), clever and not-so-clever double entendres and sexual fantasies (including an extended lap dance by Chriqui, who grinds on co-star Adrianne Palicki) in a tangled set of stories that extend “Women in Trouble”‘s narrative further into the complicated lives of the retired porn star Luxx (Gugino), her old co-star (Palicki) with longings for her best friend (Chriqui) and the low-rent online porn critic (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who reviews it all.

I can’t speak for Akerman, but even though this is an ensemble effort, Gugino understands that its her character’s name in the title and steals the film with an incredibly confident performance that truly becomes a revelation when she has to appear in a dual role as Luxx’s incarcerated twin sister. For those who weren’t able to see Gugino on Broadway in a 2009 production of “Under the Elms,” one is reminded again of her range as she is alternatingly vulnerable, tough, funny and heartbreaking during one five-minute scene in which she occupies by sides of a table during a prison visit. It was the highlight of the film for me, but not the highlight of the evening. That would have to be seeing the passion of Gutierrez in not letting the ship go down and in turn, leaving the rest of the audience buoyant as they left the theater.

“Elektra Luxx” currently has no U.S. distribution.

[Photos: Carla Gugino in “Elektra Luxx,” Gato Negro Films, 2010; SXSW photo taken by Stephen Saito]

Meadow Soprano’s Motel Menace

Meadow Soprano’s Motel Menace (photo)

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A young couple (played by “The Sopranos” star Jamie-Lynn Sigler and Josh Stewart) driving through the Mojave Desert stop for the night at an isolated motel in the psychological thriller “Wake,” which premiered this week at SXSW.

In the video below, I sit down with Sigler, Stewart and writer/director Chad Feehan, making his directorial debut, to talk about the film.

Check out all of our coverage from SXSW.



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