DID YOU READ

“Into Eternity,” Reviewed: Gazing Into the Future of Nuclear Waste

“Into Eternity,” Reviewed: Gazing Into the Future of Nuclear Waste (photo)

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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” opens in New York on February 2nd.

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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.