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DID YOU READ

Odds: Friday – Hasty weekend edition.

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"Because life is the way we audition for God; / Let us pray that we all get the job."We scored an 8/10 on the Guardian‘s remakes quiz — if you did better, don’t let us know.

Both J. Hoberman in the Village Voice and Caryn James in the New York Times look back on the complicated four-film span of Elaine May‘s directorial career (which infamously ended with "Ishtar" in 1987) on the occasion of the Film Society at Lincoln Center’s "Focus On Elaine May" retrospective. Hoberman:

Elaine May is…a director who—film for film—has to be considered alongside her more prolific peers Mel Brooks and Woody Allen. Or maybe, given the brazen auteurism of her movies, alongside somewhat younger representatives of the (old) New Hollywood like Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma. But really, May is sui generis: the only major Hollywood director of the much mythologized ’70s who happened to be female.

James apparently would disagree:

It would be hard to find four works less like one another than the sparkling comedy "A New Leaf" (1971), the gritty and dark "Mikey and Nicky," the crowd-pleasing "Heartbreak Kid" (1972) and the crowd-dispersing "Ishtar." She does not have, and hasn’t gone for, the instantly recognizable style that a director like Woody Allen has. And while she may not be a natural filmmaker, she is a natural artist who collided with the financial realities of Hollywood, as her rampant perfectionism often led to budget overruns, feuds with the studios and lawsuits that flew both ways.

Ella Taylor has a great essay on families in film and on TV in LA Weekly:

Coming from a family that kept such a tight lid on its emotions, I’ve
always had a soft spot for that maligned and neglected form, the
melodrama. Watching old movies on television when I was a teenager, I
throbbed with schadenfreude as the rich clans in Orson Welles’ "The
Magnificent Ambersons"
and "Citizen Kane" went down in flames of jealousy
and bile. With my mother, I guzzled 1940s maternal melodramas on TV,
glancing cagily sideways at her as Claude Rains’ psychiatrist counseled
Bette Davis’ helpless Charlotte in "Now, Voyager" to "Stick to your guns
without firing" when her demanding mater (a virago who made my own
strong-minded mum look like Mrs. Miniver) threatened to overwhelm her.
I thrilled to Charlotte’s liaison with married Paul Henreid and her
stealthy nurturing of his child, and fantasized myself as both mother
and daughter in some similarly boho domestic arrangement. In the 1970s,
when American movies were dominated by paranoid political thrillers, I
was wondrously creeped out by the insidious clans in "The Godfather"
Parts I and II, with their taciturn patriarchs and sidelined
matriarchs, their bursts of futile resentment and rebellion. Melodrama,
a form too lush and intense for our low-key, therapeutic age and yet
peculiarly suited to the emotive mess that is family life today, is
long overdue for a splashy comeback, and I had high hopes for a rebirth
when Todd Haynes’ wonderfully florid Douglas Sirk homage, "Far From
Heaven"
(2002), tore down the 1950s suburban family from its pedestal
and recast it as a viper’s nest riddled with mendacity and
self-deception. No one (unless you count Andrew Jarecki‘s "Capturing the
Friedmans,"
a tale of one family’s sexual malignancy all the more
powerful for being a documentary) followed up, though, and it may be a
sign of our evasive times, and the poverty of genre cinema, that the
nearest thing I’ve seen to a powerful melodrama that addresses the way
the secrets and lies of family life bubble up, unbidden, at the worst
possible moments, even in the most silent and laconic of families, is
last year’s "Junebug" — a comedy.

Speaking of, at Film Stew, Brett Buckalew discusses how Amy Adams‘ performance in "Junebug" and Catherine Keener‘s in "Capote" (both are up for Best Supporting Actress) restore depth and dignity to the often-not character of Southern women on film.

Quote to dwell on for the closing ceremonies, from Seth Stevenson last week at Slate:

When I hear about skiing over "moguls," I half expect the competitors to be racing not over artificial snow mounds but rather over the supine torsos of Ron Perelman and Harvey Weinstein. I picture the well-fed executives compressed farther down into the snow as each racer slides his ski-tips up and across their bespoke-suited midsections. By midway through the event, a small trail of blood runs down the slope from Weinstein’s abdomen. Stray Italian dogs enter the course and lap at the red-tinged ice as the film exec moans in agony.

+ The (original) remakes quiz (Guardian)
+ May Days (Village Voice)
+ The Fireworks of Elaine May (NY Times)
+ Family Viewing (LA Weekly)
+ Southern Womanhood (Film Stew)
+ How To Watch the Winter Olympics (Slate)

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

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.

via GIPHY

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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