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HCFF: Rainn Wilson and James Gunn talk the cult of “Super”

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“Super” is a movie that is all still fresh in our brains, and one that that was easily the youngest film present at the Hero Complex Film Festival. But host Geoff Boucher explained that he felt the flick will stand the test of time and one day sit happily next to such classics as “A Clockwork Orange,” “RoboCop” and “Shaun of the Dead,” which is why he included it in the line-up.

Star Rainn Wilson and writer/director James Gunn seemed honored to be present at the festival, even though they said it wasn’t too long ago that they were telling these same stories. That being said, they felt that the movie has really found its niche since it was released in 2010.

“It’s great that it’s really reaching an audience,” Wilson said. “People are loving the movie. I think it’s getting in the groundwater and I think it will really last, and that’s a really cool thing. That’s why you do it, especially kind of a weird, low-budget little cult film like this. People are very moved by it, and I like that.”

“Super” is sort of a comedy, sort of an action flick, sort of a drama and sort of a cult movie, and Gunn always knew that it would be a hard sell. He explained that he made the movie for the specific audience that would like it, instead of trying to appeal to a wide audience.

“I knew it was not a movie for everyone. It really was a movie for a few people and I feel really good about that. I knew that from the beginning,” Gunn said. “The people who love ‘Super’ like fucking love it. It touches them and it movies them. And we meant it sincerely, it was our story. That’s who I made the movie for.”

Gunn originally wrote the script back in 2002, and it first got financing back in 2004. He couldn’t find the right actor for the project then — he wanted John C. Reilly, but his financiers felt he “wasn’t a big enough star” (yet) — so it was put on hold while he did “Slither.” After that, it was Gunn’s ex-wife, “The Office” star Jenna Fischer, who turned him on to Wilson.

“I really needed somebody who could do the acting part, who could do the comedic part, who was a big enough goof that you could think he was getting picked on by the cook at the diner but is also a big enough guy that you could imagine him kicking ass at the end of the movie,” Gunn said.

Well, Wilson certainly fits that model to a T. After that, Gunn said it was surprisingly easy to get the cast that they needed. He wanted an Ellen Page-type for Boltie, and they got Ellen Page. Liv Tyler was a passionate supporter of the project, and used her prestigious name to swing a lot of the financing and pull some strings. Kevin Bacon was a last-minute addition, but one that was no less dedicated to the project. With those all set, it was just a matter of making the movie.

One of the things that’s interesting about “Super” is that the superhero storyline in the movie is sort of secondary. Gunn acknowledged that during the post-screening Q&A.

“[‘Super’ is] really much more about the fact that he’s this guy,” he said. “And I think the story could be told without him putting on the suit, but the suit’s kind of like gravy that gives it a little bit of extra something, but it’s really not about him being a superhero. It’s about him being this guy who lost his wife and how he tries to deal with it.”

Much of the influence for the film stylistically came from Asian cinema, but Gunn said much of the inspiration for the story came from Alan Moore.

“He wrote ‘Watchmen’ and sort of deconstructed the superheroes and was really trying to deconstruct the superhero idea in that same way,” Gunn said.

Even though “Super” seemed like an original idea when Gunn was writing it, he soon found himself with another similar project: “Kick-Ass.” But it turns out that there’s no bad blood between him and “Kick-Ass” creator Mark Millar, and in fact Millar was very supportive of Gunn’s film.

“I’m actually friends with Mark Millar online. We’re email buddies,” Gunn explained. “Back in 2004 or whatever he said, ‘What are you working on now?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’ve got this screenplay I’ve gone out with,’ and I told him what the gist of the screenplay was, and I think we’ve got the money for it, I think we’ve set it up, and he emailed me back and was so bummed out and was like, ‘Well shit, I’m writing this comic book,’ which was ‘Kick-Ass.'”

It seems like the making of “Super” was a good experience for both Gunn and Wilson. Though they both have other projects at the moment, they agreed that they would be open to working with one another again. Wilson even teased that he had an idea that he was going to pitch to Gunn in the coming week. Considering how off-the-wall “Super” was, we can only imagine what their next collaboration will be like.

Would you like to see Gunn and Wilson work together again? Tell us in the comments section below or 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.
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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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