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DID YOU READ

T-t-toronto.

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Having a tough time of it.You know what’s cooler than Cannes? Toronto. Totally. As TIFF kicks off today, that’s what everyone’s saying:

Roger Ebert:

Is the Toronto Film Festival the most important in the world, or does it only seem that way? In recent years I’ve described it as second only to Cannes. Now the Toronto critic Liam Lacey says flatly: "Toronto now has the most important film festival in the world — the largest, the most influential, the most inclusive." Yes, you say, but he is a Canadian, so of course he thinks that. Lacey is ready for you: "One reason the Toronto festival has probably not received its full recognition is, frankly, because it takes place in Canada."

Frankly, only a Canadian would think that. Toronto is all he says it is, and that’s that.

Mark Caro at the Chicago Tribune:

Toronto’s fest used to share the end-of-summer spotlight with the Venice and Montreal festivals, but Venice dramatically cut back its slate this year and the redubbed New Montreal Film Festival is attempting to reinvent itself with a pared-down schedule. That leaves Toronto with more world premieres than ever as it cements its status as North America’s most important film festival — and moves in on the uneven Cannes for the world title.

Industry types talking to Nicole Spering at the Hollywood Reporter:

"The product definitely looks a lot stronger then Cannes," said Howard Cohen of Roadside Attractions, whose company has been mandated with releasing six acquisitions a year. "There are many more English-language movies with casts."

Well, we have issues with that last comment, but whatever. Toronto is offering a load of stars and an intimidating amount of intriguing movies, so many, in fact, that we’re tempted to just ignore the whole damn thing like we did last year. But no! We’re jumping right in.

The Toronto Star‘s staff offers an invaluable blurby guide to the films by title: A-D, E-M, M-So and Sou-Z. Also at the Star, Rita Zekas runs down some of the stars scheduled to make appearances and the parties they’ll likely be appearing at:

Orlando Bloom generated the biggest heat last year. This year, our money is on Johnny Depp.

I asked a friend whom he was jonesing to see.

"Liza Minnelli," he replied.

"How gay are you?," I asked.

And Martin Knelman looks at the high stakes involved in premiering your film at the massive festival, and touches on some mild intrigue: of the two major Canadian films making their North American debut at the festival (and getting released later this month), Atom Egoyan‘s "Where the Truth Lies" is getting battered by David Cronenberg‘s "A History of Violence." It’s impossible not to compare the two films: Egoyan and Cronenberg are two of Canada’s most prominent directors and former rivals, neither has had a success in a while, both are tackling edgy topics and both premiered their films at Cannes. One wonders if the Egoyan film would be getting such a tough time, critically (it’s gotten mixed reviews) if the Cronenberg wasn’t getting raves. To make things tougher for "Where the Truth Lies," the AP reports that the MPAA has upheld the NC-17 rating it gave the film a month ago.

For tons of additional coverage, we’re liking the always excellent Twitch for reviews and Variety for biz coverage (the festival section is free for all). There’s already a deal going: Ian Mohr and Brendan Kelly report that Scorsese’s four-hour PBS Bob Dylan doc "No Direction Home," which is making its television premiere at the end of this month, has gotten a small theatrical distribution deal with Emerging Pictures, who’ll release the film in 30 cities nationwide before it appears on-air.

But back to Ebert’s first Toronto dispatch — he points out that he’s already seen most of the big buzz movies at the fest:

What lies ahead for me? Last year at this time "Ray," "Kinsey," "Yes," "Palindromes," "The Sea Inside," "Undertow" and "Hotel Rwanda" were only rumors to me. I write on Wednesday night, and will see three or four new movies tomorrow, and be astonished by completely unexpected treasures. I permit myself to be delighted until I reflect that in the real world, titles like this do not open every weekend, or play everywhere, or get much support, and there are perfectly nice people who are going to see "Deuce Bigalow, European Gigolo" under the impression that it is a movie.

The unnecessary poke at Rob Schneider aside (it’s like kicking a retarded puppy, as Charles Taylor once said of attempting to take on Ann Coulter), this is what we’re excited about ourselves — the surprise hits, the innovative sleepers, the unexpected charmers that come out of nowhere, and, of course, the provocative/offensive flamethrowers that give us stuff to blog about for weeks.

+ Toronto #1: Festival’s importance (RogerEbert.com)
+ 5 reasons why Toronto is the film fest that matters (Chicago Tribune)
+ Products look ‘strong’ at Toronto fest (HR)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews: A-D (Toronto Star)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews: E-M (Toronto Star)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews: mini-reviews: M-So (Toronto Star)
+ Film Festival mini-reviews Sou-Z (Toronto Star)
+ Distant stars (Toronto Star)
+ Festival time, get out the dice (Toronto Star)
+ Board Upholds NC-17 Rating for ‘Truth’ (AP)
+ Toronto Film Festival 2005 Archives (Twitch)
+ Toronto Film Festival Guide (Variety)
+ Dealin’ for Dylan (Variety)

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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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