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Odds: Wednesday – Once again, “Sex Addict,” “United 93.”

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Sex addicts?
We can’t seem to force today’s links into our preferred artificial thematic groups.

In the New York Times, Nathan Lee reviews "I Am A Sex Addict" (242 words). On his blog, director Caveh Zahedi dissects/responds (777 words) and reminds us why we sometimes fear the internet.

None of this would matter very much, and the dig in question could be easily laughed off, if it weren’t for the fact a New York Times reviewer has the power to make or break a film, and that an off-handed remark like that can mean the difference between success or failure at the box office. And it’s not just the fate of the film that is at stake: it’s also the fate of the filmmaker and of his or her ability to make more films in the future. With such power comes a dizzying responsibility, and it saddens me to see film critics wield their formidable power with such breezy insouciance.

And suddenly we find ourselves nostalgic for the days when an angry director or actor had to content him- or herself with dumping a plate of spaghetti on the head of the writer of a bad review. Over at Matt Zoller Seitz’s blog The House Next Door, Jeremiah Kipp interviews critic/filmmaker Godfrey Cheshire about the effects of technology on the creation and criticism of films:

I discovered that most of [the undergrads in a class Cheshire taught] read critics online. There’s not the culture of the local critic that there was when I was [a student]. Of course, I still write for The Independent Weekly, and I’m in that market. The thing that shocked me was when I asked, “Where do you get your information about films?” Which is basically what films are playing, what’s opening this weekend—and none of them said The Independent, which is the alternative weekly for that area, which is where you would think that most people their age would go for information like that. They get that online. There used to be a certain factor of localism in film criticism, which was very much tied to print, newspapers and journalism. You read whoever was in your market. Of course, you might buy The New Yorker if you lived in North Carolina to see what Pauline Kael had to say. But you read the writing in the local paper, because that was for a local audience. Now, there isn’t that presumption at all. The position of critics tied to local publications is being continually eroded.

Circle of (cinematic) life: South Korean director Shin Sang-Ok (best known for being abducted, along with his actress wife, and brought to North Korea to make films for everyone’s favorite dictator-cum-alleged cinephile, Kim Jong-Il), who passed away. X at Twitch has a nice eulogy of sorts. Meanwhile, Maggie Gyllenhaal and our imagination boyfriend Peter Sarsgaard are apparently engaged and pregnant with a indie hip, talented baby. Via Gina Serpe at E! Online.

Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere adores "United 93."

Is feeling power-drilled all over again by one of the worst real-life nightmares of all time a good thing? To me, it is. It happened, it’s real, and this film knocks your socks off because it takes you right back to that surreal morning and that feeling, that almost-afraid-to-breathe feeling, and to me, that’s partly what good films do — they lift you out of your realm and make you forget about everything but what’s on-screen.

In the LA Times, Scott Martelle takes on the "Too soon?" question:

"In a sense, it might have been better if they could have miraculously gotten this film out in the first three months," [USC’s School of Cinema-Television professor Richard] Jewell said. "Things have taken such a detour now with the country divided about the war in Iraq and all the aftermath. [A movie about] 9/11 is a little bit more risky now, or a bit more difficult to predict how the audience is going to respond."

And in The Age, Philippa Hawker takes the occasion of a David Cronenberg ACMI retrospective to write a lengthy piece on the physicality of his films, also chatting with Cronenberg’s frequent composer, Howard Shore.

+ Chronicling the Fantasies and Failings of One Man in ‘I Am a Sex Addict’ (NY Times)
+ Contra Nathan Lee (Caveh Zahedi’s Blog)
+ Cinema, dead and alive: an interview with Godfrey Cheshire, Part 1 (The House Next Door)
+ Shin Sang-Ok Passes Away (Twitch)
+ Gyllenhaal, Sarsgaard: Engaged, Expecting (E! Online)
+ Blown Away (Hollywood Elsewhere)
+ Is America ready for movies about 9/11? (LA Times)
+ A master of body language (The Age)

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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.


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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GIFs via Giphy

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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