DID YOU READ

Olga Kurylenko talks “Oblivion,” “To The Wonder,” and “Erased”

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Oblivion is a state of forgetting, the state of having forgotten, but you won’t be able to forget “Oblivion” star Olga Kurylenko anytime soon — and that’s not just because her latest film is number one at the box office and a worldwide hit, courtesy of Tom Cruise star power. (“It’s insane!” she gushed to IFC.)

Kurylenko, who previously made her mark opposite Daniel Craig in the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace,” can also be seen in next month’s “Erased” with Aaron Eckhart and in art house theaters now with Terrence Malick’s “To the Wonder” with Ben Affleck, which might make you wonder — how does she always end up as the love interest to some of the most attractive men on screen? Is this a contract condition of hers? “No,” she giggled. “Doesn’t this happen to all the others? Am I the only one? Hey, it’s a tough life I have. It could have been worse, right?”

Kurylenko gives what might be the only affecting performance in “To the Wonder” (since Malick cut so many of the other actors out of the film, and gives Affleck virtually no dialogue). And she also gives what might be one of the few truly compellingly human performances in “Oblivion” (but that’s only because — spoilers ahead — some of her cast mates are playing clones). In both, she exists as if a woman out of a dream, quite literally, in the case of Tom Cruise’s character. Jack, a drone mechanic who thinks he’s one of the last people left on Earth, has been having strange dreams about a woman he can’t quite identify. Is this a memory? He tells us that his memory was wiped five years ago for security clearance, which would explain a fragment, but this dream tells him of a woman and of a planet from 60 years before, back when the Empire State Building still looked over a teeming populace. So imagine his surprise when he discovers that a survivor of a spacecraft crash in suspended animation is the very same woman, and even stranger, she remembers him, too.

To prep for these parts, Kurylenko did her homework, devouring Russian novels such as “Anna Karenina,” “The Brothers Karamazov,” and “The Idiot” to fill in the blanks for the script-less “To the Wonder,” because “I had to combine certain qualities and traits of female characters in all three books,” and for “Oblivion,” watching astronaut training videos, sci-fi such as “Solaris” and classic romances such as “Notorious” and “Casablanca.” “‘Solaris’ deals with a similar subject, going into space, confronting a memory,” she said. “And all the romances, because we all agreed, we wanted the romance in the movie to be like the old days, to be pure, to be touching.”

“Oblivion” has gotten a lot of flak from critics for recycling sci-fi tropes, but Kuryleno said that the film actually raises a lot of interesting, thought-provoking questions. “It’s not just sci-fi,” she said. “It’s full of messages, important questions that we can ask ourselves: Why are we here on this earth? What is it to be human? What is the difference between a human and someone who is not human, either an alien or a clone? Does love ever end? Is it an energy that can survive even when the world collapses?”

In other words, is love — or our capacity for love, as encapsulated by our soul — immortal? Does it matter which body a soul is in, if the memory remains intact? Both Jack and Victoria, played by Cruise and Andrea Riseborough, have been subject to these so-called memory wipes, and believe that they are a couple as well as an “effective team,” with her manning the communication controls between their station and a central command, and him out in the field repairing drones which allegedly protect the remaining humans and their dwindling resources from aliens. But (again, spoilers ahead) what Jack and Victoria have been told is a lie — about central command, about the drones, even about themselves. The question is, if you don’t remember yourself, who are you? And if you share a memory of being someone else, does that make you that person?

“That’s the division in the film that I like very much,” Kurylenko said. “Jack and Victoria are in a way brainwashed, but Victoria doesn’t want to know the truth, no matter what happens. She consciously refuses to find out. She closes her eyes. but Jack is curious and eager to discover the truth, no matter how ugly. And in the end, you see how that works out for both of them.”

Jack and Victoria’s reaction to Kurylenko’s character Julia is telling — Jack wants to help her, and Victoria would rather Julia just go away, because it makes her and Jack less of an “effective team” (a phrase oft-repeated in the film to a final chilling effect). To be an effective team, Jack is supposed to follow orders, to not think about whether the orders make sense. Trying to learn the truth — about what happened to humanity on Earth, about the people who survived — can have fatal consequences. “You know how they say everybody dies, but it’s about dying well?” Kurylenko asked. “That’s the truth. We all die. The question is, what kind of life will we have lived? Will we have been brave, or will we live in oblivion? There are all these questions, so it’s not just some sci-fi movie that makes no sense. Hopefully people will see that and understand that.”

Likewise, Kurylenko’s next film “Erased” has a similar undertone, even if the two films couldn’t be more different in look, genre, scope, location, and execution. While “Oblivion” was shot in Iceland to feature landscapes of glaciers, snow, and dry lava all bumping up next to each other, “Erased” takes place in the cities of Belgium, and is an espionage thriller about the CIA’s unofficial participation in providing weapons to warlords. But the key to both is that at the center is a man who doesn’t realize whom he’s working for or what he’s doing for them until it’s too late, and an employer who will execute him if he asks too many questions. “It’s a similar message,” Kurylenko agreed. “And I’m actually quite astonished that you could see the same line goes through both, because visually, they’re not the same.”

The flip side for her on “Erased,” however, is that this time, she could be one of the bad guys, with emphasis on guys. “The way the director spoke to me about my character, which is what attracted me to the project, is that he said, ‘You’re a woman, but you think you’re a man,'” she said. “And I’ve never explored that side of myself before.”

Will you be checking out Olga Kurylenko’s recent/upcoming films? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.