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DID YOU READ

Review: “Into Eternity,” gazing into the future of nuclear waste.

Review: “Into Eternity,” gazing into the future of nuclear waste. (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.

In a remote area in western Finland, a tunnel that ultimately will be three miles long and 1,600 feet deep is being drilled into the bedrock. The site is called Onkalo, “hiding place,” and when it’s completed, sometime in 2100, it will serve as a permanent resting place for the country’s radioactive waste, a tomb the government plans to seal and leave undisturbed for at least 100,000 years.

The remarkable documentary “Into Eternity,” directed by Danish conceptual artist/filmmaker Michael Madsen (who should start a club with “Hunger”‘s Steve McQueen and “Reel Injun”‘s Neil Diamond), isn’t concerned with nuclear power or the politics the surround it. What’s captured Madsen’s imagination is the idea of creating something that’s intended to last far beyond the existing span of human civilization. As remote as the pyramids are to us now, they’re only a few thousand years old, nothing compared to the incomprehensible lengths of time being considered by Onkalo’s creators. Where will humanity be then, and what will it be like? What wars, what natural disasters will have taken place?

The shadow of apocalypse lies over “Into Eternity,” which glides its camera through the incomplete depths of Onkalo and the sterile halls of current above-ground nuclear waste storage centers and turns them into alien landscapes, and which stymies the scientists and politicians it consults with philosophical questions about their plans for the distant future. After all its careful planning, Finland’s greatest fear for Onkalo isn’t born of scientific failure, but the failure of civilization. Is it better to forget the location of something you don’t want found, or to presume we’ll be stable and constant enough to pass a warning about what’s buried there across the eons? That human curiosity has so far proven more powerful than any “stay away” message by earlier societies makes the dilemma a durable one.

04242010_intoeternity2.jpgMadsen provides the narration for the film, appearing sometimes to speak to the camera for monologues that last the length of a match, briefly illuminating the underground darkness. His skeleton of a conceit, that the film will also serve as an artifact for some future group of people who’ve come across it while excavating Onkalo, leads to a few so-solemn-they’re-silly pronouncements, but the immensity of the idea at the heart of the investigation can’t be denied. Can we trust our own future? Or is the very concept of trafficking in something with such far-reaching consequences a kind of hubris?

Late in “Into Eternity,” someone mentions that their favorite joke, when they started digging Onkalo, that they expected to uncover a copper canister with a warning about what lies beneath, which is what they planned to leave themselves when Onkalo was complete. It’s a dark quip that, like the film as a whole, worms its way into your brain. You need go back only a few centuries for human history to become murky and mysterious. We may be better at keeping records now, but our ability to efface whole societies from the face of the earth has also significantly improved. The quest for any type of permanence seems, under the constant grinding away of time, terribly presumptuous.

“Into Eternity” is currently without distribution.

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Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:

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The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.

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They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!

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Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.

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Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.