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Cillian Murphy on Christopher Nolan: “He’s set the bar for all sorts of superhero franchises”

INCEPTION

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It remains to be seen whether Cillian Murphy will have a role in “The Dark Knight Rises,” and it’s a question that many fans have refrained from asking. Most want to know if Marion Cotillard will be playing a vengeful Talia al Ghul or if Christian Bale’s Batman will live through the film or if Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be set up to take up the cowl and utility belt by the end of the flick. But considering the fact that Murphy’s Scarecrow has had a role in both “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight,” it seems like a fair assumption that director Christopher Nolan — who also hired Murphy for “Inception” — will have the Scarecrow return one final time in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Just don’t expect Murphy to be the one to tell you if he’s back for round three. IFC recently had the chance to catch up with the Irish actor at the press day for his upcoming movie “Red Lights,” and he acknowledged that he wouldn’t answer our big question about “The Dark Knight Rises” no matter how nicely we asked.

“My thing is always like, it’s out very shortly. Let’s not be impatient. People are so impatient,” he said playfully. “Some things [spoilers are] great for, but other things… isn’t it so great to go and see a film that you haven’t seen a script for, that you haven’t seen on set videos, that you haven’t read spoilers for, that you just go in and you just are in it? That’s what it should be. That’s what it was in the old days, and in many ways Chris is a very sort of old fashioned filmmaker in the methods that he employs and his belief in cinema, and I think that’s a good thing.”

We’d agree, and we honestly will be happier being surprised if Murphy does — or doesn’t — pop up for one final hurrah in “The Dark Knight Rises” when we see it in theaters on July 20. But he, alongside Bale, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman, has the special vantage point of having seen each of the films be developed pretty much since their inception (see what we did there?). We asked Murphy what he thinks the legacy of Nolan’s Batman films will be as someone who’s worked with the director for more than seven years.

“I think that that franchise has just been totally reinvigorated and he’s set the bar for all sorts of superhero franchises in terms of making something that’s hugely entertaining but also really intelligent and moving. They’re phenomenal films and I think that he’s just — not just in the Batman franchise, but with all superhero franchises — that’s the level they have to live up to,” Murphy said.

Well, that’s what many comic book film franchises have been trying to do. Many fans have criticized films like “Man of Steel” and “The Amazing Spider-Man” for seemingly trying to go down the dark and gritty route that “The Dark Knight” perfected. Murphy acknowledged that the style of filmmaking wouldn’t necessarily work for every superhero ever created.

“Some of them are more ludicrous than others, aren’t they? So it depends. Batman is the coolest of them all, I think, because he doesn’t have any special powers. He’s just a rich guy who does a lot of push ups and has got lots of fancy toys. And his costume is so cool. But it works,” he said. “The most important thing is, like a film like ‘Inception’ for example, which wasn’t a franchise, it was a standalone movie but it was very challenging and you had to really work. But millions and millions of people went to see it and I think that really changed things in that people wanted a clever movie, wanted a movie that challenged them, and I think it’s foolish always for studios — or any filmmakers — to underestimate how smart their audiences are.”

So does he think that Warner Bros. could continue on this Batman franchise without Nolan as director?

“I don’t know. I don’t know. Let’s watch this one and see,” Murphy hedged.

That being said, he had nothing but wonderful things to say about Nolan. “I think Chris Nolan is one of the greatest directors working today and he is really one in a million. Those movies — well, all of his films, I adore all of his films. He makes the exact sort of films that I love,” Murphy gushed. “I’d love to work with him [again]. It’s a real gift and priviledge to work with someone that talented.”

Are you looking forward to “The Dark Knight Rises”? Would you rather be surprised in the theater or know everything about the project going in? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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