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DID YOU READ

A weekend rec and other randomness.

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"I should have been born in the Rococo era."We don’t know about you, but we’re hoping to go home, crawl into bed and picturesquely expire. Or maybe just take a nap, we’ll decide when we get there. For y’all, however, as we wouldn’t recommend seeing either "An Unfinished Life," despite a fine turn by Bart the Bear II, or "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," "cultural document" or not. Nor is "Green Street Hooligans" looking worth shelling out at the theater (despite La Manohla‘s promising reading of the film as a sort of sublimated male love story…tempting, but we’ll wait for the DVD), and we know we should be all excited about "Keane," but we really just aren’t up for it. If you’re in New York, though, we do suggest taking a look at a film that we didn’t have a chance to review fully on the News site but would like to say nice things about now: "Kamikaze Girls," Tetsuya Nakashima‘s goofy tale of the friendship between a Gothic Lolita type and a tough biker girl in a small rural town in Japan.

The film’s told from the perspective of Momoko, who loves frilly dresses and dreams of a life devoted to leisure in Rococo-era France. She’s cheerfully isolated herself from everyone around her and from life in general until she has friendship forced onto her by Ichiko, a member of a girl’s biker gang. Light but never syrupy, the film’s got a surreal and loopy sense of the visual, particularly in the frantic introductory sequences (they’re almost reminiscent of "Toto le héros" in tone), but also has surprising, and biting, poignance. Momoko’s detachment from the ugly, or at least not pretty, realities of life around her is several times depicted with her literally floating away into the sky, a curiously appropriate image for someone who’s managed to protect herself from a capricious upbringing and monstrously childish parents by studiously avoiding attachment to anyone but herself (and her beloved Baby, The Stars Shine Bright frocks). Anyway, it’s the kind of film we’d be in the mood to watch again this weekend, if we ever manage to peel ourselves off the couch.

We haven’t really even touched on Venice yet and they’re already starting to hand out prizes. Oy. Anyway, see Greencine Daily, they’ve got all you need when it comes to that festival. Here‘s the latest dispatch.

You may have noticed that we went through a brief obsession with "Hustle & Flow" and how much we hated it. Fortunately, the LA Weekly seems to feel the same, and, only a week after Scott Foundas‘ gleeful look at the film’s failure to live up to its own hype and "March of the Penguins"‘ unexpected success, they give us an excellent essay from Erin Aubry Kaplan on, essentially, the future of black film, and also on why "Hustle & Flow" sucks. We don’t want to make light — it’s a must-read. Some choice quotes:

At a time when white fantasies about black urban life have become routine, this movie, couched in full indie street cred courtesy of Sundance (where it won the Audience Award for dramatic feature), takes the genre to a level of exploitation and insult unique to the millennium. This is a nigger-fest minus some of the saturated color and amped soundtrack that a studio-produced movie would have — in short, minus the gloss that at least acknowledges the cartoonishness of the whole enterprise. But no such self-awareness exists in Hustle and its stripped-down "real" world, where all black men are thugs, criminals or rap artists, or — what’s the difference, really? — aspiring to be. Otherwise, they’re not authentic black men, which is one of the movie’s most pernicious racial messages (and, believe me, there are many).

And also:

Then, adding insult to injury, [Craig] Brewer perverts black history by conflating it with the effort to make a hit record out of "Whoop That Trick" — framing the exploitative song’s journey in can-do sentiments like "I have a dream" and "By any means necessary." That "Whoop That Trick" serves as the movie’s sole vehicle of black ambition, the pinnacle of everybody’s dreams — black and white, male and female — is not only hackneyed, it’s toxic. Martin and Malcolm are surely turning in their graves.

Alright, that’s all for us. We’ll catch you Monday — talking points for the weekend: Is "Everything is Illuminated" really going to be a good movie? Or just an annoying one? (We say: somewhere in between.) And, in this glorious summer of the cleansing of Miramax’s bowels, what’s the worst film that’s been/will be tossed from the Weinstein shelves into a few scattered theaters? (We say: it’s coming, and it’s "Daltry Calhoun.")

+ Now playing: Village East Cinema (Moviefone)
+ Venice Dispatch. 11. (Greencine Daily)
+ Pimping the Ride (LA Weekly)

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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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