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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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Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…

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IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

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

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.

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Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:


Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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Happy Tears

Binge Don’t Cringe

Catch up on episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia.

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Photo Credit: GIFs via GIPHY

A brain can only take so much.

Every five minutes, all day, every day, ludicrously stressful headlines push our mental limits as we struggle to adapt to a reality that seems increasingly less real. What’s a mind to do when simple denial just isn’t good enough anymore?

Radical suggestion: repeal and replace. And by that we mean take all the bad news that keeps you up at night, press pause, and substitute it with some genuine (not nervous, for a change) laughter. Here are some of the issues on our mind.

Gender Inequality

Feminist bookstore owners by day, still feminist bookstore owners by night, Toni and Candace show the male gaze who’s boss. Learn about their origin story (SPOILER: there’s an epic dance battle) and see what happens when their own brand of empowerment gets out of hand.

Healthcare

From Candace’s heart attack to the rise of the rawvolution, this Portlandia episode proves that healthcare is vital.

Peaceful Protests

Too many online petitions, too little time? Get WOKE with Fred and Carrie when they learn how to protest.

What Could Have Been

Can’t say the name “Clinton” without bursting into tears? Documentary Now!’s masterfully political “The Bunker” sheds a cozy new light on the house that Bill and Hill built. Just pretend you don’t know how the story really ends.

Fake News

A healthy way to break the high-drama news cycle is to switch over to “Dronez”, which has all the thrills of ubiquitous adventure journalism without any of the customary depression.

The more you watch, the better you feel. So get started on past episodes of Documentary Now! and Portlandia right now at IFC.com and the IFC app.

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