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Cillian Murphy examines the spiritual debates of “Red Lights”

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When fans go to see “Red Lights” — the latest movie from “Buried” director Rodrigo Cortes — it’s not going to be what they expect. In fact, the less you know about the movie, the better. That being said, the film deals with the continual debate between believers and skeptics and the journey to discover whether special abilities like supernatural presences, psychic powers and super hero skills actually exist.

But the real draw to the film for lead actor Cillian Murphy was the chance to explore a character like his Tom Buckley and to go on a surprisingly surprising journey with him. IFC caught up with Murphy at the press day for “Red Lights” last month, and he talked about why he knew he wanted to join “Red Lights.”

“It was just a great piece of writing. It was a great script,” he said of Cortes’ story. “You read a lot of scripts and it’s always refreshing and encouraging when you can’t predict where they’re going to go. It was always surprising, the story was, the script and the character, and he goes on a really, really big journey, this character, and the challenge of trying to convey that in an honest way and in such a way that the audience would invest in him and go with him on the journey, that was the challenge really for me.”

It only helped that he was taking this cinematic trip with a group of actors who he describes as “legends.” Sigourney Weaver plays Margaret Matheson, a doctor who investigates and refutes supposed paranormal happenings, while Robert De Niro portrays Simon Silver, a psychic/evangelist who is the one man she was never able to prove was a fake. Elizabeth Olsen and Toby Jones round out the cast as one of Matheson’s students and a fellow professor at her school, respectively, though Jones’s professor is one whose goal is prove that special abilities really do exist.

Murphy appears in just about every frame of “Red Lights,” so he got a chance to work opposite these actors as they played roles we don’t typically see them in. De Niro in particular was as terrifying as we’ve seen him in recent years, and Murphy gushed that just getting to shoot the same scene with him and Weaver helped him in his own career.

“You get a chance to actually work with them and to observe them and to watch them act was, for me, I’ll never ever forget that,” he said. “You can’t sort of underestimate the influence those guys have had on my career and their movies, so it was huge for me.”

Of course, Murphy is an esteemed actor in his own right. Best known for his roles in “28 Days Later,” “Batman Begins” and “Sunshine,” Murphy has been in many movies that examine the constant struggle between people who are skeptics and those who are believers. That is a conflict that is at the center of “Red Lights,” and we asked him why he thinks this is something people are so invested in.

“It is sort of an endless debate, isn’t it? They seem to be kind of exclusive, I guess, to each other,” he said. “I did another movie that was kind of similar in theme to that before, so I had read a lot about it.”

But that debate is not what he thinks the movie is about. “For me, even though [the movie is] in that world of like skeptics and believers and scientists and people who claim to have paranormal abilities, for me it was really a character study and self-acceptance and obsession,” Murphy said. “Those were the main sort of driving forces psychologically for me that I wanted to explore with the character because they are universal. This other world is interesting and exciting, but the human story of it, which is Tom’s story, is the one that I really concentrated on.”

So what does he want people to know about the movie going in, when we argue that people should know as little about it as possible?

“I think it’s unexpected, it’s original, it seems to have gotten a lot of people talking, and people seem to have very personal, very subjective interpretations of it,” he said carefully. “I think each one is valid, and people are really trying to figure out. And some people look at it in a very sort of logical way and some people look at it in a very abstract way, some people look at in a very spiritual way, and that’s the beauty of it. It doesn’t prescribe answers, it asks you to ask questions.”

“Red Lights” hits theaters on July 13 in limited release.

Are you intrigued by movies that you shouldn’t know much about going in? Are you planning on checking out “Red Lights”? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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SO EXCITED!!!

Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”

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IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?


Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!


Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.


Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 

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IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.

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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.