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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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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