DID YOU READ

“Nothing Lasts Forever,” yet this Bill Murray movie persists.

“Nothing Lasts Forever,” yet this Bill Murray movie persists. (photo)

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“This is a historic moment for me because in this very theater years ago, I saw ‘Ben Hur’ and was scared to death when they went into the leper thing in the cave,” said Tom Schiller at a rare screening of his lone feature “Nothing Lasts Forever” at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. “So this is my revenge by showing my feature film that has been suppressed for 27 years.”

Teased recently in Karina Longworth’s L.A. Weekly piece as “the Bill Murray film you’ve never seen,” Schiller’s 1984 quasi-comedy about “a guy who wants to be an artist, but he doesn’t know what kind” has been getting a revival of late, first rediscovered in 2004 when Murray insisted the rare film be included in a retrospective of his work at the BAMcinématek in New York, and subsequently serving as the Opening Night Film at last year’s Olympia Film Festival and a recent play at the 92YTribeca “Not Coming to a Theater Near You” series in March in addition to Michael Streeter’s book “Nothing Lost Forever.” The Olympia Film Fest date is particularly ironic, given that it was a bad test screening in the Pacific Northwest that doomed “Nothing Lasts Forever” to a release directly to the airwaves of late night television in Europe when MGM, still reeling from “Heaven’s Gate” and other debacles of the early ’80s, decided against releasing the film theatrically.

As the American Cinematheque moderator Grant Moninger noted during the film’s post-screening Q&A, Schiller’s film resembles the work of Guy Maddin, heavily using stock footage to imagine a New York run like a police state by the Port Authority with an underground sanctum where ticker tape falls from the sky representing the souls living above. (The worlds are differentiated by black-and-white for the Big Apple and color for the rest.) A pre-“Gremlins” Zach Galligan is caught between the two worlds when after being revealed as a fraudulent pianist in Europe, he is called upon by the New York underground to travel to the moon for some “spiritual work” and to find his soulmate (Lauren Tom). Although “Nothing Lasts Forever” isn’t traditional in any sense, Murray plays what would be described as the film’s villain, the testy lunar bus attendant whose job it is to serve Lunartinis and encourage the largely senior citizen passengers to shop freely at the “Moon-O-Rama Carousel of Consumer Values” on a moon that resembles Hawaii far more than the one Neil Armstrong landed on. (Fellow “SNL”-er Dan Aykroyd pops up in a cameo and Schiller revealed John Belushi had been originally tapped to play one of the underground dweller gods before he died in 1982.)

When asked at the Egyptian screening how the film got made, Schiller responded, “I don’t exactly know” before explaining how Lorne Michaels had a development deal at MGM and out of several projects Michaels considered, he picked the one from Schiller, who had been directing idiosyncratic shorts like “Don’t Look Back in Anger” and “Java Junkie” for the NBC show during the late ’70s and early ’80s. “I think they thought it was low budget or something to get off the hook of their contract, but I had total freedom. No one was watching hardly and I got to make a personal film with a studio crew.” As it turned out, two members of that studio crew would later become Oscar winners — Howard Shore, who composed just his second score for the film, and “Alice in Wonderland” costume designer Colleen Atwood, who is credited as a production designer on “Nothing.”

Clearly, MGM didn’t know what to do with “Nothing Lasts Forever,” which derives its self-reflective humor from a bewildered Eddie Fisher (as himself) asking, “How the hell did I wind up singing on a bus to the moon?” and one of Galligan’s art groupie sexual conquests squealing “Oh my God… it’s ‘Potempkin!'” upon climaxing as she sees the Eisenstein film in the background. According to Schiller, the film was accepted not once, but twice into the Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight after Schiller smuggled a print of the film to the powers that be, but MGM passed.

“I got a phone call and they said, [in a French accent] “you have created a masterpiece! You will be a sensation at Cannes!” So I met [the Cannes director] at the Algonquin Hotel, where he gets me champagne and my head is swimming because all I wanted to do was be a great foreign-appreciated American filmmaker,” Schiller recalled half-jokingly. “So I immediately call the president of MGM and say, ‘They want us at Cannes.’ And he said, “Baby, you could get killed at Cannes.” I said, give me the name of a film that was killed at Cannes. He said, “Baby, I could give the names of 50 that were killed on your desk by tomorrow.’ I never got the names of 50 and I never got to Cannes.”

Though Schiller insisted he likes the film’s cult status, he also alluded to the “murmurs” of an eventual DVD release, possibly through the Warner Archives label, and when asked if he’ll ever make another film, said, “I’m reading stuff. Yeah, maybe. Why not?”

[Photo: “Nothing Lasts Forever,” MGM, 1984]

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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