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Can’t they just get Roeper “disappeared” or something?

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"I am angry all the time... and I don't know why."Roger Ebert’s disagreements with LA Weekly whippersnapper Scott Foundas have officially grown to a "heated exchange." Foundas’ comments on this year’s Slate Movie Club prompted a lengthy defense from Ebert, which leads us to Foundas’ reply in the current Weekly issue (and varying responses from Ebert’s readers).

The film in question is Paul Haggis"Crash," which Foundas called one of "the year’s worst movies," and which topped Ebert’s year-end best-of list. We have to hand it to Haggis — for two years in a row now he’s had a hand in films that have made plenty of critics’ top tens while simultaneously so infuriating others that they can’t settle on just disagreeing about it — they feel a burning desire to convert the world to hating the film as well.

It’s a compulsion we understand (because lord, what a smug piece of sanctimonious crap!), but, you know, it’s oddly admirable — Haggis has inspired more impassioned film debates than, like, Armond White. Ebert and Foundas venture into some touchy territory for any critic, with Ebert flying the flag of the common man:

It is useful to be aware of the ways in which real people see real films. Over the past eight months I’ve had dozens of conversations about "Crash" with people who were touched by it. They said it might encourage them to look at strangers with a little more curiosity before making a snap judgment.

These real moviegoers are not constantly vigilant against the possibility of being manipulated by a film. They want to be manipulated; that’s what they pay for, and that in a fundamental way is why movies exist. Usually the movies manipulate us in brainless ways, with bright lights and pretty pictures and loud sounds and special effects. But a great movie can work like philosophy, poetry, or a sermon.

Ah, "real people." We admire Roger Ebert very much — particularly the astonishing volume of reviews he turns out and the joy with which he still clearly approaches his job. But honestly, anyone who works as a critic (and has therefore disqualified themselves from the realms of actual existence, we presume) is by definition not an average moviegoer — a critic sees far more films and dedicates a far larger percentage of his or her waking life to cinema than most members of the public. Ignoring the above excerpt’s inherent condescension, is Ebert arguing that Foundas should approach films by attempt to channel some mythical unsophisticated viewer, as opposed to writing what he actually thinks? Foundas gets a little testy in his response:

But then, Roger, perhaps all of us detractors are simply, as you put it, "too cool for the room." According to you, we critics must bear in mind "the ways in which real people see real films," the same people who you say enjoy paying to be manipulated. (And who’s to argue, when the officials currently holding our nation’s highest elected offices offer living proof that many of us enjoy being manipulated for free?) You go on to say that you’ve talked to dozens of viewers who were touched by "Crash," and while I don’t deny that, I have had my own conversations about "Crash" with plenty of "real people" who feel less touched by the film than manhandled by it. Among e-mails I’ve received from Slate readers, one goes so far as to speculate that people are afraid to admit they don’t like "Crash" for fear of being considered racists themselves — and I think the film is engineered to make viewers feel that way — while another, somewhat more charitable correspondent quotes Oscar Wilde’s maxim that "all bad art is sincere."

Keep it going, boys, and maybe while you’re at it, Ebert, get Foundas a spot on your review show, because this is way interesting than the combined best moment of all five or so seasons of "Ebert & Roeper." You may think Foundas is too cool for the room, but honestly, with Roeper in it, who wouldn’t sneak out for a ciggy on the porch?

+ Slate Movie Club (Slate)
+ In defense of the year’s ‘worst movie’ (RogerEbert.com)
+ Roger and Me (LA Weekly)
+ Readers clash over ‘Crash’ (RogerEbert.com)

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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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