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DID YOU READ

Women and men.

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"...its leering depiction of a leather-clad fembot..."Kevin Maher at the London Times kicks off an article on the "genre of Hollywood movies that speak of post-feminist kick-ass action
heroines while offering an overtly sexualised view of women that’s
utterly rooted in the darkest chambers of male desire" with a dig at Joss Whedon‘s "Serenity," which we feel is a particularly poor choice of titles to beat up on, particularly as it seems Maher has yet to see the film.

Yes, Whedon was a Women’s Studies major at college. Yes, the entire arts staff of Salon was on suicide watch for, like, months after "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" was canceled. No, we’re not quite sold yet on holding him up as the new champion for female empowerment in disposable entertainment. But "Serenity" (which is great, great, great, by the way), "Firefly" and "Buffy" did manage to present what were certainly the most interesting and developed female characters in a decidedly non-female-skewing genre. Whedon’s managed to make comic book movies/series that appeal at least as well to women as to men — how rare is that?

Anyway, among many things, we’re particularly up in arms about this:

In other words, although these allegedly strong chicks, according to Whedon, may look "attractive" and "cool," when is the last time that Vin Diesel had to wear a pair of mercilessly photographed and cruelly revealing tight black PVC Speedos before he could snap the neck of an enemy agent? Ditto for The Rock and Jet Li? And why can’t the action heroine kick ass in a baggy jumper or pair of dungarees?

We’ll not kick poor Vin when he’s down, career-wise, but we don’t see how he, ever wife-beatered-out and improbably bulging with muscle, was any less fetishized at his peak than your average recent action movie heroine. And while we’d be hard put to disagree that, of late, "strong female action hero" pretty much equals pseudo-dominatrix, why is being dungaree-clad more empowering? We don’t want some damn heroine who looks like crap. We have to get up and dress for work like everyone else, why shouldn’t she? We want her to look cool, and to have a bitchin’ outfit (and who cares how impractical it is? We’re talking about escapism here, right?).  Hollywood hasn’t figured out what women want, action movie heroine-wise yet. But we’d say they’re getting closer. Sloooowly.

Meanwhile, on the track of a few iconic men’s roles, Nicole Lampert at This is London swears up and down that Daniel Craig is the new James Bond (traditionally clad in a less than action-ready tux, but no one’s get an issue with that, apparently), which we’ll believe when we see his face plastered on a poster at the multiplex and no sooner. Stephen Hunter at the Washington Post waxes melancholic and Freudian over John Wayne in "Hondo," recently restored and re-released on DVD.

Hondo was John Wayne, mythic even then, and for many of us the image he portrayed in "Hondo" that year was an image no man could live up to. He was tall and strong, encased in buckskin, his wise eyes hooded by the broad brim of his hat, looking to and possibly beyond the horizon. He was fair and calm. He was tough but not mean. He had temper but not rage, only decency under the muscle. He had a poetic streak and an emotional one; he knew what love was, just as he knew the drop of a .38- 40 from a Winchester carbine at 100 yards and how to knife-fight and fish and swim. He could ride or shoot or fight as well as any man alive, but he didn’t seem to brag on it. He killed Indians but he loved Indians; he killed white men but they were low-down skunks. He protected. He made things safe and let you grow. Otherwise he believed in letting alone, doing his duty and setting an example. He didn’t order you to be like him, he made you want to be like him.

In an older piece at the Guardian, John Patterson wonders what Wayne would have made of the remakes of his old Westerns, particularly "Four Brothers."

And while the Independent‘s Paul Vallely looks over the cinematic history of a just as iconic, if far less flattering, father figure, "Oliver Twist"’s Fagin, Sean Macaulay at the London Times interviews Ben Kingsley, the latest to don the raggedy robes and attempt to humanize a tragic Jewish stereotype.

+ A hard woman is good to find (London Times)
+ It’s James Blond (This is London)
+ Who’s Our Daddy? For A Generation, It’s ‘Hondo’ (Washington Post)
+ Wayne’s lost world (Guardian)
+ Dickens’ greatest villain: The faces of Fagin (Independent)
+ Ben Kingsley (London Times)

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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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