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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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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.
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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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