DID YOU READ

“Immortals,” reviewed

“Immortals,” reviewed (photo)

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There are two wars onscreen in “Immortals”: one between armies fighting for control of ancient Greece, and one between a director with an unconventional visual style and the narrative demands of a conventional action blockbuster. The “Greece” of “Immortals” — and you kind of have to put it in quotes because it bears so little physical resemblance to the real geographic location that goes by that name — is an insanely beautiful and insanely impractical landscape of deserts and mountains and homes carved out of the sheer walls of seaside cliffs. It looks nothing like any other film about ancient mythology. The plot is a different story: it looks like every movie about ancient mythology, a generic quest undertaken with generic archetypes who have generic problems that are resolved in generic ways. It makes for a strange film, dazzling and dull all at once.

It seems silly to even try to summarize the plot when the film itself barely does, but what the heck. Evil King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) believes the secret to winning his war with the Greeks is to unleash the Titans, fallen gods who were defeated by Zeus and the rest of his family and imprisoned inside Mount Tartarus. In order to do that, Hyperion needs the fabled Bow of Epirus, a weapon of incredible power. In order to get that, Hyperion needs to consult the virgin oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto), who’s looking for the Bow herself in the company of a Greek peasant named Theseus (Henry Cavill), who wants revenge against Hyperion for slaughtering his mother.

That about does it. No reason is ever given for the war between Hyperion and the Greeks. Nor do we learn what Hyperion thinks he’ll gain from unleashing the Titans (not to spoil anything, but whatever he hoped would happen, doesn’t happen). Really, no reason is given for anything in the movie. The Greek landscape is gorgeous and totally ridiculous. The people live in this super-cool looking and totally implausible system of cliff-wall cave houses. They have no agriculture and no economy. All they do is train to fight and fight. What do they eat? Where do they grow their crops if they live inside mountains? If Hyperion doesn’t get them, I imagine starvation will.

None of it makes a lick of sense when you think about it; director Tarsem Singh is simply counting on you to not think it because he’s throwing so much eye candy at you that your brain doesn’t have time to simultaneously process all the pretty imagery and the imagery’s total lack of cohesion. For the most part, he’s right. This movie is incredibly fun to look at, and that’s even with a thin film of 3D glasses muting Tarsem’s sumptuous color palette. The fights, many of which are strikingly staged inside very cramped quarters, are clear and crisp, and the way Tarsem delineates between man and god by filming their respective battles at different speeds — real time for man, slow-motion for gods — is very clever. Though it doesn’t get used very much, the Bow of Epirus is one badass movie weapon and another really memorable looking element of the film. If there was a projector malfunction at your screening of “Immortals” and the sound died, you’d still get your money’s worth — though you would miss out on the pleasure of hearing Rourke menacingly grumble “A man’s seed can be his most dangerous weapon.” What does that even mean?!?

Ultimately, I’m not sure that Tarsem is even half as interested in any of the characters as he is with what they’re wearing and where they’re standing. The only memorable parts about the lead characters are their physical attributes: Cavill’s chiseled pecs, Pinto’s naked rear, Rourke’s goofy bunny rabbit helmet. Theseus and Phaedra accrue a whole bunch of helpers and assistants in their search for Epirus’ Bow but the film hardly even introduces them; I know Stephen Dorff’s character was a thief, but who was that other bald guy? And how did the silent monk from Rourke’s camp wind up with them? Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that “Immortals” looks like it’s set inside a dream and so we’re meant to assume that everything within the film operates along the rules of dream logic. That’s fair, if a tad unsatisfying. Still, the film is handsome enough to recommend on the strength of the visuals alone, which is basically what I’m doing.

“Immortals” opens today in theaters nationwide. If you see it, tell us what you think. Leave us a comment below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.