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The week’s critic wrangle: “Where the Truth Lies,” the “Elizabethtown” massacre of mediocity.

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Alison Lohman and Kevin Bacon.+ "Where the Truth Lies":  Noted by at least two critics in their reviews of Atom Egoyan‘s latest (which, as you may recall. is being released unrated here in the US after being deemed too thrusty for an R): Vince Collins (Colin Firth) and Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) are stand-ins for Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis; Alison Lohman‘s none-so-great as the journalist looking into the former comedic duo’s past; the film has a running "Alice in Wonderland" motif; and, most importantly, Rupert Holmes, who wrote the novel on which the film is based, also wrote the 1979 single "Escape (The Pina Colada Song)," considered by some a worthy candidate for worst song ever written.

Otherwise, most everyone is unified in varying degrees of disappointment in "Where the Truth Lies," which opens today in New York and L.A. Manohla Dargis finds it a not-that-fun journey into the sordid side of celebrity that "almost works, at least in part," in shaking up the genre of the murder mystery, but that’s undone by it’s script. Ben Kenigsberg at the LA Weekly thinks it’s a conventional film buried under layers of narrative, while Matt Zoller Seitz is frustrated by the film’s being more self-aware than is bearable, even for Egoyan, declaring it a "fitfully brilliant but mostly frustrating drama populated by characters so self-analytical that they might as well be followed around by tiny, animated footnotes." J. Hoberman ascribes the problems to Egoyan’s going increasingly mainstream: "in this relatively big-budget production, the director’s main anxiety seems to be wrapping up the mystery and selling the project." And James Crawford, taking the lead over at the week’s indieWIRE triple review, gets the last word in: "Censor-baiting sex scenes aside, now that he’s indecently begging for a place at the studio table, I wish he’d stop making movies for a while."


Kirsten Dunst and Orlando Bloom.+ "Elizabethtown": We feel like we were promised some rippingly bad reviews of Cameron Crowe‘s latest, a très "Garden State" making-a-trip-to- see-to-dead-parent-with-hip- soundtrack-and-inexplicable-love- interest bit starring Orlando Bloom as a failed shoe designer (!), but all we’ve found among our critics of choice are, once again, varying degrees of disappointment, tempered with some "it could have been much worse." Mostly, it’s just a mess, or, as A.O. Scott extended metaphors it, a burgoo: "a strange, messy stew of a movie, with some tasty garden gleanings, a few chunks of gristle and too many leftovers thrown in the pot for it to be entirely digestible." To sum up the general sentiments here: Bloom fades into the background, the family isn’t developed enough and is too weird, things is general are too weird (as Stephanie Zacharek puts it, "so much of ‘Elizabethtown’ just leaves you asking, Why?"), but that Kirsten Dunst is great (Laura Sinagra points out that "Like Woody Allen, Crowe repeatedly scripts the perfect girlfriend (without, thank god, injecting himself into the fantasy)," truly the stuff grad school theses could be written on).

Crowe loves his music, and the film closes with a fifteen-minutes trek set to a mix tape made for Bloom’s character by Dunst’s that seems have exhausted everyone’s tolerance for sincerity. David Edelstein: "You’d be forgiven for thinking, ‘Turn off the boombox, Lloyd: You’ve
got us already. Lloyd, turn it off. Lloyd, for God’s sake, this is
embarrassing. Lloyd!!!’" A.O. Scott: "There is something both desperate and lazy about Mr. Crowe’s assumption
that sublime sentiments can be conjured up with a click of the iPod."

Roger Ebert, who likes the new cut better than the 18-minute-longer version that was so poorly received at Toronto, slips in an interesting tidbit about the ending:

In the first cut of the film, there was a great deal more of the journey, followed by a pointless epilogue in which the Spasmodica shoe turns out to be a hit after all, because with every step you take, it whistles. (Since much of the journey and all of the epilogue have been cut from the movie, this is not a spoiler unless the ban on spoilers has been extended to include deleted scenes on the DVD.)

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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.


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…


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.


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).


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.


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.


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.



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 and the IFC app.

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