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Patrick Wilson and Ellen Page on the Sweet Revenge of “Hard Candy”

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By Michael Scasserra

IFC News

“How do you wipe chocolate off a 14-year-old girl’s mouth?” That’s one of the tougher questions that all-American leading man Patrick Wilson had to struggle with when he took on the role of pedophile Jeff Kohlver in “Hard Candy,” an unnerving, completely riveting psychological thriller cast in the mold of “Death and the Maiden,” “Extremities” and “Oleanna.”

As a charming, 32-year-old fashion photographer and internet stalker, Wilson more than meets his match when he lures precocious, 14-year-old Hayley Stark (terrific newcomer Ellen Page) out of a chat room and into his candy-colored home — where she proceeds to turn the tables in an increasingly grisly manner. If you winced when Kathy Bates hobbled James Caan in “Misery,” wait until you see what Page has got in store for Wilson.

Director David Slade’s cat-and-mouse game, in which Hayley becomes detective, jury, and potential executioner, is an intensely acted two-hander with one of the most disturbing revenge twists you’re likely to see all year. The crafty screenplay by playwright Brian Nelson was inspired by a real-life story about a group of Japanese school girls who lured older men into hotel rooms — then beat them and took their money.

“This is not a pedophile movie,” maintains Wilson. “It’s about the power struggle between two protagonists — or two antagonists, depending on how you look at it. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions — and about where you draw the line between justice and vengeance.”

Was Wilson, now an expectant father himself, uncomfortable taking on such a controversial role — particularly one that’s hitting screens at a time when internet child abuse permeates the media? “I was no more uncomfortable than I was playing a closeted, gay Mormon (in ‘Angels in America’), or running around in long hair with a sword (in ‘Phantom of the Opera’),” he explains. “I wouldn’t take a part if I felt that uncomfortable. He is who he is. These guys tend to be charismatic — or they wouldn’t be successful. When you’re playing the good guy, you want to find the dirty parts — and when you’re playing the bad guy, you want to find the vulnerability.”

Vulnerability is putting it mildly. In “Hard Candy”, Wilson spends most of his screen time in increasingly uncomfortable emotional and physical positions — and often does his toughest acting while tied down to a makeshift operating table. An exhausting, 18½-day shoot required both actors to dive into Nelson’s script with abandon — and to do their own stunts.

In “Hard Candy”, the roles of predator and prey are in constant flux. Like “Crash,” “Hard Candy” forces viewers to take a point-of-view — and draw their own moral lines. “No one would deny that his taking this girl home is wrong,” says Wilson, “but what happens from there is open for debate.”

“In this movie, the whole concept of good versus bad is askew,” says Page, a young Canadian (she was 17 when the movie was shot in 2004) who was cast over 300 contenders. “One moment you feel sympathy for a character — and the next, you feel utter hatred.”

“You don’t usually come across a 14-year-old girl who’s written so well,” continues Page, who sought inspiration from Jodie Foster’s subtle portrayal of a teenage murderess in 1977’s “The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane.” “I think we’re really starved for passionate, intelligent young female roles in the media. Hayley has so many layers. She is an exceedingly intelligent, passionate young woman who sees something wrong in society — and sees that nothing is being done about it.”

Page’s commanding performance in “Hard Candy” is likely to earn this rising star a lot of attention. She’s got the indie “Mouth to Mouth” opening in May, and later this year goes Hollywood as Shadowcat in “X-Men: The Last Stand.” But with “Hard Candy” hitting screens first, is she worried about being typecast as a man-killer — on screen or off?

“I’m not concerned that having done this film will make me worry about the men I go out with,” she says. “I’m more concerned that it will make them worry about me.

“”Hard Candy”” opens in New York and L.A. on April 14 (official site). Gentlemen, be prepared to squirm.

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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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