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WonderCon 2012: Peter Berg and Brooklyn Decker talk aliens, Rihanna and the Battleship board game

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“Battleship” was one of the many films that sailed into WonderCon on Saturday to show off some of its nerd cred. Following the panel, IFC participated in a group interview with director Peter Berg and star Brooklyn Decker to talk about the project, which hits theaters May 18.

The conversation covered a range of topics, but one of the more interesting elements discussed was the role the aliens play in “Battleship.” We also talked about Rihanna’s first time on the big screen, the mini “Friday Night Lights” reunion going on in the film and the various nods within the movie to the Battleship board game.

In the middle of the interview, Berg and Decker even acted out of one of the movie’s big ocean action scenes using the various voice recorders lying on the table. It is impossible to transcribe, unfortunately, but was wonderful to behold. Keep reading for some of the interesting talking points discussed during the interview.

There’s a lot more to the invading aliens than meets the eye
“There’s a lot that we’re not giving away, but I don’t like alien films where you don’t get to see the aliens. We spent a lot of time and money, frankly, designing what I think are awesome aliens,” Berg explained. “To us, the aliens are characters, they aren’t just sort of generic killing machines. They behave. They clearly have feelings for each other. They rescue each other when one of them’s in trouble. They didn’t come here to fight.”

And that’s something that’s really interesting about the film. The aliens aren’t mindless bad guys, and the humans are actually the instigators.

“They don’t act unless acted upon. Everything they do is reactionary and sort of in defense, and so they’re not really out to attack us, they’re more researching. They come down initially to find out more about our planet,” she explained. “It definitely adds kind of an interesting dynamic. They’re not just these mercenaries that come to our planet. There’s a lot more to it.”

Berg elaborated, “We actually kind of started the fight. So I think it was important for me, knowing there would be inherent skepticism or comparisons to other alien films, to kind of do our best to quickly get in front of that and say, ‘Look, you may or may not respond to it, but I think you will judge it as something unique.’ It’s not like anything I’ve ever seen.”

Just don’t think we’ll end up sympathizing with the aliens like we do in, say, “District 9.” But it does apparently come close to that. “I think we push it right up to that edge, yeah,” Berg said. “I don’t know that you’ll feel sorry for them, because they are quite violent. At the end of the day, they did come here to check this planet out. If it’s of interest to them, they’re going to do whatever they can to take it, and they’re pretty fierce if they need to be. But we actually start the fight.”

Don’t worry, “Battleship” isn’t sappy and romantic
“The film is not a love story, the film is an action film. These two characters [Taylor Kitsch and Decker] do love each other and very quickly in the film we introduce sort of an issue. And that issue is her father, played by Liam [Neeson], and they’ve had this agreement that on this day before Taylor sets out to engage in these naval exercises, he’s going to man up and ask his permission to marry Brooklyn and Taylor’s terrified of Liam and sort of self-sabotages it and ends up getting in a bunch of trouble and ends up not asking the question,” Berg said. “So we separate them with a fairly substantial amount of conflict, and throughout the film Taylor’s desire to get back and make it right is something that certainly a healthy component of the film. But we haven’t remade ‘The Vow’ or ‘The Notebook.'”

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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.