Justin Pierre’s career path nearly took a totally different turn some 15 years ago.
Before a friend called him and asked him to join Minnesota-based pop punk sensations Motion City Soundtrack, Pierre — the band’s frontman — actually had his sights set on Hollywood…and a career as a filmmaker.
“I have always loved movies and TV,” says Pierre from a truck stop in Kansas.
Motion City Soundtrack just released a new record — their fifth — called “Go,” and have been on tour in the states with The Front Bottoms and Henry Clay People.
“The first thing that really blew my mind, where I was like, ‘Oh my God, I want to be involved in this’ was when I was a kid and saw ‘Twin Peaks,’” Pierre recalls. “I think I was 13. I watched it when it was on television and I was blown away. I thought, ‘I want to do this.’”
As a teen, Pierre says he started writing “stupid little films” he’d would then enlist his bored friends to star in. He’d shanghai his parents’ camcorder, and bring his short stories to life.
Pierre was serious about leaving his stamp on film.
“When I was 19, I bummed around and worked at a video rental place for a couple of years,” says Pierre. “I would make tons of copies of movies, and just watch them over and over and over. Later, I worked as a [production assistant] on several small films in Minneapolis.”
One was a movie by filmmaker Eric Tretbar called “Snow.”
“I was working on that when someone told me about a film school called Minneapolis Community Technical College; I enrolled, but didn’t finish, and was learning all about screenwriting and film making. That’s when [guitarist] Josh [Caine] approached me to make music with him.”
The rest, of course, is history and Motion City Soundtrack have since left their mark on the musical world — and on the medium of music video.
Pierre admits he still dabbles with film when he has time.
“I once made four short films and maxed out my credit cards, which was a terrible idea because I don’t think anyone’s ever going to see these movies — but it was a lot of fun,” Pierre says.
Pierre and the band also had fun making their new video for the track “True Romance;” Josh’s brother, Jesse Caine, directed the single-take clip.
“We are all fans of the one-take video,” Pierre says. “With ‘True Romance,’ at times, there’s upwards of 30 people behind the scenes, running up and down the street, stopping traffic, moving cars, running around…even the band members all had jobs. And it was because this video is really involved.”
The band did 15 complete takes to get just the right one.
“Growing up in the 1990s, with guys like Spike Jonze always doing these one-take video, it’s just always been fun to watch,” Pierre adds. “If you do it well, no one notices how much work goes into it.”
Pierre says he’s excited to see “The Dark Knight RIses” this summer, and has enjoyed two movies this box-office season: “The Avengers” and “2 Days in New York.”
“It’s amazing,” he says of the Julie Delpy-directed flick. “When it comes to my all-time favorite films, I’d have to say its a toss up between ‘Stranger Than Paradise’ by Jim Jarmusch or ‘Faces’ by John Cassevetes. Those are my two go-to films of all time.”
Spend Valentine's Day weekend with IFC's Underworld movie marathon.
Posted by Emmy Potter on Photo Credit: Screen Gems/courtesy Everett Collection
Romance takes many forms, and that is especially true when you have a thirst for blood or laser beams coming out of your eyes. It doesn’t matter if you’re a werewolf, a superhero, a clone, a time-traveler, or a vampire, love is the one thing that infects us all. Read on to find out why Romeo and Juliet have nothing on these supernatural star-crossed lovers, and be sure to catch IFC’s Underworld movie marathon this Valentine’s Day weekend.
1. Cyclops/Jean Grey/Wolverine, X-Men series
The X-Men franchise is rife with romance, but the steamiest “ménage à mutant” may just be the one between Jean Grey (Famke Janssen), Cyclops (James Marsden), and Wolverine (Hugh Jackman). Their triangle is a complicated one as Jean finds herself torn between the two very different men while also trying to control her darker side, the Phoenix. This leads to Jean killing Cyclops and eventually getting stabbed through her heart by Wolverine in X-Men: The Last Stand. Yikes! Maybe they should change the name to Ex-Men instead?
2. Willow/Tara, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Joss Whedon gave audiences some great romances on Buffy the Vampire Slayer — including the central triangle of Buffy, Angel, and Spike — but it was the love between witches Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) that broke new ground for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of a LGBT relationship.
Willow is smart and confident and isn’t even sure of her sexuality when she first meets Tara at college in a Wiccan campus group. As the two begin experimenting with spells, they realize they’re also falling for one another and become the show’s most enduring, happy couple. At least until Tara’s death in season six, a moment that still brings on the feels.
3. Selene/Michael, Underworld series
The Twilight gang pales in comparison (both literally and metaphorically) to the Lycans and Vampires of the stylish Underworld franchise. If you’re looking for an epic vampire/werewolf romance set amidst an epic vampire/werewolf war, Underworld handily delivers in the form of leather catsuited Selene (Kate Beckinsale) and shaggy blonde hunk Michael (a post-Felicity Scott Speedman). As they work together to stop the Vampire/Lycan war, they give into their passions while also kicking butt in skintight leather. Love at first bite indeed.
4. Spider-man/Mary Jane Watson, Spider-man
After rushing to the aid of beautiful girl-next-door Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst), the Amazing Spider-man is rewarded with an upside-down kiss that is still one of the most romantic moments in comic book movie history. For Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire), the shy, lovable dork beneath the mask, his rain-soaked makeout session is the culmination of years of unrequited love and one very powerful spider bite. As the films progress, Peter tries pushing MJ away in an attempt to protect her from his enemies, but their web of love is just too powerful. And you know, with great power, comes great responsibility.
5. Molly/Sam, Ghost
When it comes to supernatural romance, you really can’t beat Molly and Sam from the 1990 hit film Ghost. Demi Moore goes crazy for Swayze like the rest of us, and the pair make pottery sexier than it’s ever been.
When Sam is murdered, he’s forced to communicate through con artist turned real psychic, Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg in her Academy Award-winning role) to warn Molly she is still in danger from his co-worker, Carl (a pre-Scandal Tony Goldwyn). Molly doesn’t believe Oda is telling the truth, so Sam proves it by sliding a penny up the wall and then possessing Oda so he and Molly can share one last romantic dance together (but not the dirty kind). We’d pay a penny for a dance with Patrick Swayze ANY day.
6. Cosima/Delphine, Orphan Black
It stands to reason there would be at least one complicated romance on a show about clones, and none more complicated than the one between clone Cosima (Tatiana Maslany) and Dr. Delphine Cormier (Evelyne Brochu) on BBC America’s hit drama Orphan Black.
Cosima is a PhD student focusing on evolutionary developmental biology at the University of Minnesota when she meets Delphine, a research associate from the nefarious Dyad Institute, posing as a fellow immunology student. The two fall in love, but their happiness is brief once Dyad and the other members of Clone Club get involved. Here’s hoping Cosima finds love in season four of Orphan Black. Girlfriend could use a break.
7. Aragorn/Arwen, Lord of the Rings
On a picturesque bridge in Rivendell amidst some stellar mood-lighting and dreamy Elvish language with English subtitles for us non-Middle Earthlings, Arwen (Liv Tyler) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) bind their souls to one another, pledging to love each other no matter what befalls them.
Their courtship is a matter of contention with Arwen’s father, Elrond (Hugo Weaving), who doesn’t wish to see his daughter suffer over Aragorn’s future death. The two marry after the conclusion of the War of the Ring, with Aragorn assuming his throne as King of Gondor, and Arwen forgoing her immortality to become his Queen. Is it too much to assume they asked Frodo to be their wedding ring-bearer?
8. Lafayette/Jesus, True Blood
True Blood quickly became the go-to show for supernatural sex scenes featuring future Magic Mike strippers (Joe Manganiello) and pale Nordic men with washboard abs (Hi Alexander Skarsgård!), but honestly, there was a little something for everyone, including fan favorite Bon Temps medium, Lafayette Reynolds (Nelsan Ellis).
In season three, Lafayette met his mother’s nurse, Jesus, and the two began a relationship. As they spend more time together and start doing V (short for Vampire Blood), they learn Jesus is descended from a long line of witches and that Lafayette himself has magical abilities. However, supernatural love is anything but simple, and after the pair join a coven, Lafayette becomes possessed by the dead spirit of its former leader. This relationship certainly puts a whole new spin on possessive love.
9. Nymphadora Tonks/Remus Lupin, Harry Potter series
There are lots of sad characters in the Harry Potter series, but Remus Lupin ranks among the saddest. He was bitten by a werewolf as a child, his best friend was murdered and his other best friend was wrongly imprisoned in Azkaban for it, then THAT best friend was killed by a Death Eater at the Ministry of Magic as Remus looked on. So when Lupin unexpectedly found himself in love with badass Auror and Metamorphmagus Nymphadora Tonks (she prefers to be called by her surname ONLY, thank you very much), pretty much everyone, including Lupin himself, was both elated and cautiously hopeful about their romance and eventual marriage.
Sadly, the pair met a tragic ending when both were killed by Death Eaters during the Battle of Hogwarts, leaving their son, Teddy, orphaned much like his godfather Harry Potter. Accio hankies!
10. The Doctor/Rose Tyler, Doctor Who
Speaking of wolves, Rose “Bad Wolf” Tyler (Billie Piper) captured the Doctor’s hearts from the moment he told her to “Run!” in the very first episode of the re-booted Doctor Who series. Their affection for one another grew steadily deeper during their travels in the TARDIS, whether they were stuck in 1950s London, facing down pure evil in the Satan Pit, or battling Cybermen.
But their relationship took a tragic turn during the season two finale episode, “Doomsday,” when the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose found themselves separated in parallel universes with no way of being reunited (lest two universes collapse as a result of a paradox). A sobbing Rose told a holographic transmission of the Doctor she loved him, but before he could reply, the transmission cut out, leaving our beloved Time Lord (and most of the audience) with a tear-stained face and two broken hearts all alone in the TARDIS.
But those films (“Conan the Barbarian,” “U-571,” etc.) are hardly the only “bangiest” movies. Below, lock and load with these ten more films guaranteed to satisfy the cravings of even the most discriminating action junkie. And don’t forget to tune into IFC each night this week at 8/7c for Movies that go Bang! Bang!
“Hard Boiled” (1992) – hospital shootout
John Woo’s final Hong Kong action film before heading to the States to call the shots on such American shoot-‘em-ups as “Hard Target,” “Broken Arrow” and “Face/Off” features Woo’s muse, Chow Yun-Fat, as Inspector ‘Tequila’ Yuen, and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (not quite yet Wong Kar-wai’s muse) as undercover cop Tony, taking on Johnny Wong (Anthony Wong), the leader of a Triad crime syndicate. Their mission leads to several confrontations in which countless bullets fly as only they can in a John Woo movie, finally climaxing in an astonishingly choreographed gun battle at a hospital, where the two heroes must rescue innocent civilians and newborn babies from dozens of mob hitmen skulking about the maternity ward. Sure, “A Better Tomorrow” and “The Killer” might be “better” films, but this particular sequence – a glorious ballet of carefully constructed and executed mayhem – might be Woo’s all-time stand-alone masterpiece.
“Heat” (1995) – bank robbery
Michael Mann’s obsessive-compulsive attention to accuracy in even the smallest details is on full display in the bank robbery (and its bloody aftermath) scene in the writer-director’s epic crime drama, “Heat.” Robert De Niro’s team of thieves takes on what seems to be most of the Los Angeles Police Department in this sequence, which many consider to be one of the all-time best action scenes in American cinema. The robbers lay down heavy machine gun fire as the cops shoot back in short, controlled bursts in an attempt to keep any and all collateral damage to a bare minimum; Mann went to great lengths to portray a shootout on the streets of L.A. as realistically as possible with a keen eye toward character and procedure. The meticulous (and loud!) sound design is rather astonishing, too – play this scene on your surround sound set-up and your neighbors will think someone declared World War III.
“The Killer” (1989) – church shootout
What’s a John Woo movie without lots of gunfire. . . and white doves flapping around all symbolic-like? Many souls are released unto the afterlife in the amazing church shootout in “The Killer,” Woo’s bloody and majestic fable about an assassin who has a crisis of conscience. Chow Yun-Fat is Ah Jong, a hitman who accidentally damages the eyes of a singer (Sally Yeh) during a shoot-‘em-up; he later finds out that she’ll go blind unless she has surgery, which prompts him to do One Last Hit in order to pay for the expensive operation. Woo designed “The Killer,” with its story of the strong bond between two seemingly opposite people lost in a violent world, as an ode to the work of Jean-Pierre Melville and Martin Scorsese; the film itself went on to influence the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez with its likable (and very human) antagonist and over-the-top yet artfully executed violence. If you can only see one John Woo movie before you die (and what a drag if that’s the case for whatever reason), it’s a toss-up between this one and “Hard Boiled.”
“Léon: The Professional” (1994) – SWAT scene
Oh, stupid SWAT team leader. Yes, Mathilda (Natalie Portman) and Leon (Jean Reno) have arranged for a secret knock that identifies one to the other. But, being the skilled “cleaners” that they are, they’ve also arranged for another secret knock, one that translates roughly into “Remember that possible scenario involving a bunch of cops right outside the door in SWAT gear? Well, that possible scenario is nigh, dude.” Mathilda gives Leon enough of a warning to allow him to get the upper hand (at least for a little while) on some of NYPD’s finest, which leads to an intense apartment shootout that’s going to have the landlord frantically dialing his insurance company (that is, if the phone lines are even still intact). The most exciting action sequence in Luc Besson’s now-classic thriller is also one of of the most heartbreaking as Leon and Mathilda are forced to accept what was probably inevitable about their relationship, both “Professional” and personal.
“The Matrix” (1999) – lobby shootout
One of the most crowd-pleasing moments in the Wachowskis’ game-changing sci-fi film is also one of the most oddly mean-spirited and downright amoral; after all, these are just poor security cops trying to do their damn jobs, not legitimate enemies who are in cahoots with the Agents who have kidnapped Morpheus. The fact that the (more or less) innocent people being shot full of holes are just physical projections of imprisoned pod-slaves all connected to a virtual reality consciousness at least takes some of the edge off as Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) wreck the kind of slo-mo action mayhem that was cool back in 1999, cutting (shooting) a bullet-ridden path through the lobby as they execute their daring rescue mission. Alas, the Wachowskis forgot that the Mentor should probably die in the first chapter (haven’t they seen “Star Wars?”), an oversight that unfortunately reduces Morpheus to little more than just a hapless passenger nervously reacting to Jada Pinkett Smith’s daring pilot skills by the third movie.
There are many things to love comedian Kumail Nanjiani for. His hilarious stand-up. His role on Silicon Valley. His all-star cameos on Portlandia, including this week’s episode where he informs Fred about The Cloud. Heck, he’s even set to host the 2016 Spirit Awards Feb. 27th on IFC. But the thing that’s perhaps most surprising, and most endearing, is his deep love, bordering on obsession, for The X-Files. No one, and we mean no one, has done more with their appreciation of the ’90s cult hit than Mr. Nanjiani, who’s turned a love of the show into a flourishing side career. With The X-Files returning to television, and the movies airing on IFC, we know you want to believe in Kumail’s super-fandom. Well, trust us, the truth is out there. Here are just a few examples.
5. He has a podcast dedicated to the show
For a year and a half, Kumail has hosted The X-Files Files, a podcast in which he and a guest break down specific episodes of the long-running show. Now 56 episodes deep, the podcast has welcomed everyone from Paul Scheer to Jack Black to Fox Mulder himself, David Duchovny. This is a deep dive into all things X-Files from someone who knows what it’s like to be obsessedwith Mulder and Scully.
4. He moderated the X-Files Comic-Con panel
Kumail joked that he tried to wait as long as possible before accepting the offer to host the X-Files panel at last year’s Comic-Con, because he didn’t want to seem desperate. He lasted 30 seconds.
3. He hosted his own X-Files marathon
20th Century Fox Television
Kumail hosted a binge watcher’s dream for X-files fans in Los Angeles in anticipation of the new season. The marathon played six classic episodes, including the terrifying “Home” and the Bryan Cranston-fronted “Drive.” Show writers Glen Morgan and James Wong stopped by to share trivia, like how they made Mulder obsessed with Elvis Presley just to annoy Duchovny.
2. He thought The X-Files was a true story
Growing up in Pakistan, Kumail had limited access to American pop culture. As he told Conan, episodes of The X-Files had a warning before each episode, stating that they were based on true stories. This, unsurprisingly, blew his mind. It turned out to be a huge disappointment when he finally moved to the States, and realized how few aliens and monsters we really had.
1. He’s on the freaking show
Suffice it to say, all this love has not gone unnoticed. When it was announced that The X-Files was coming back to television, Nanjiani fans knew they had to get their boy on the show. A Change.org petition was set up, demanding he be cast on the new season. This tidal wave of support garnered 91 signatures. Okay, not exactly a movement, but it turns out it didn’t matter. Nanjiami secured a part on his own, and will be in next week’s episode, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.” He told Comic Book Resources that he had to call his wife from the set to help him get through a scene because he couldn’t remember his lines. She urged him to calm down, and just think of it as any other show. He, of course, said, “I can’t! They look like Mulder and Scully!”
Missed Portlandia? Watch it now on the IFC App. And click here to find IFC on your TV in your area.