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Cannes: Weinsteins take Asia, everyone hearts “Babel.”

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Imminent new dad Mr. Pitt.
The juicy biz announcement du jour: via Gregg Kilday at Hollywood Reporter, "Bob and Harvey Weinstein unveiled a new label Tuesday called Dragon Dynasty, under which the Weinstein Co. will release Asian films." Given the Weinsteins’ track record releasing Asian films through Miramax, this announcement has probably sent fans shrieking in fear off into the distance (and straight to the bootleg import DVD store)…but don’t worry, all, Quentin Tarantino has been called in to advise on the new label, which will span DVDs and some theatrical releases.


At least this explains the fate lying in store for the various titles the Weinsteins have acquired over the months. "Ong Bak 2," "Tom Yum Goong"  and "Seven Swords" are among the planned releases, along with 50 films from the Shaw Brothers collection.

Elsewhere, "Babel" seems to be gaining steam, at least in the press, as the film to beat for the Palme d’Or. At Time‘s Big Picture blog, Richard and Mary Corliss have a back-and-forth on the film, with Mary pulling for the film and Richard less impressed. At the New York Times, A. O. Scott notes that fucking-with-chronology-friendly Alejandro González Iñárritu was treated to an unexpected plot leap himself at the film’s first screening, when the reels were mixed up:

A glitch like this is every director’s worst nightmare, literally so in Mr. González Iñárritu’s case. "I had this dream three days ago that exactly this kind of thing had happened," he said in an interview later on Tuesday. "I called my friend Guillermo del Toro" — whose own Cannes competition entry, "Pan’s Labyrinth," is to be shown on Saturday — "and he said he’d had the same dream." When Mr. González Iñárritu mentioned his premonitions at a technical check the day before the screening, he said that the projectionists assured him that such a mishap was impossible. "They acted like I was insulting them by bringing it up."

At indieWIRE, Eugene Hernandez, Brian Brooks and Kristina Woo report on some of the deals made over at the Market: Sony Pictures Classics will release "Persepolis," based on Marjane Satrapi’s best-selling graphic novel autobiography) in North America. Satrapi co-wrote and is co-directing the project with Vincent Paronnaud. And IFC Entertainment picks up "Destricted," a "concept for an ongoing franchise of erotic short films by well-known auteur directors, fashion designers, photographers, artists and actors." The film premiered at Sundance earlier this year.

And a few bits and pieces: At the LA Times, Robert W. Welkos interviews Peter Hoffman (in his yacht, natch). Hoffman, once president of the late Carolco Pictures, "helped throw a soiree that some say still ranks as the single most extravagant and star-studded event in the festival’s history." These days, he says Cannes is "less important" and too crowded.

Matt Dentler
turns up for a mysterious "surprise screening" — the film turns out to be "Borat," the film based on Sacha Baron Cohen‘s character of the same name. "The film we saw seemed fairly complete, and I hope that it is, because it was damn near perfect. Funny, offensive, and timely, ‘Borat’ could become the kind of college-campus classic that speaks to the tasteless teenager in us all."

At the Washington Post, William Booth discusses Pedro Almodóvar‘s "Volver" (another one being seen as a top Palme d’Or candidate), the party that followed, and the prosthetic ass Penélope Cruz had to wear for her role. Money quote:

Critics are saying it is the best role of Cruz’s career. She’s saying Almodovar has changed her life: "My life has more color because of him." That is the kind of thing that actresses say at Cannes.

Almodovar confesses the same. He tells us that, as we probably knew, he’s gay, and that his last heterosexual love affair was in 1984. "But with Penelope, I felt again desire. I was completely hooked on her body." He says: "I was horny." That’s very Cannes, too.

And, sending in a Cannes dispatch for IFC News, Mark Rabinowitz shares an anecdote about the charms of the international press junkets:

[M]y favorite was the Chilean journalist who, at the "X-Men: The Last Stand" press conference, stood up and began by telling Halle Berry how long he had to travel from Chile and how he had gotten hemorrhoids from sitting so long on the plane. "Too much information," was Berry’s response. The questioner then went on to tell how famous the X-Men films and comics were in Chile (I found it odd that he had a Russian accent, though) and that "little children play your character, Storm, in the streets." He then went back to his hemorrhoids, explaining how painful it was for him to sit down and how hard it was for him to find cream in Cannes, due to the language difference. This went on for three to four minutes before any hint of a question appeared. Finally he asked Berry the following brilliant nugget: "Do you like acting?"

+ Tarantino to advise Weinstein Asian label (HR)
+ One Auteur’s Bumpy Trajectory Through a Decade of Cannes Festivals (NY Times)
+ CANNES ’06 MARKET DAILY: Sony Classics to Release Satrapi’s "Persepolis" Memoir; IFC Picks Up "Destricted;" Wong Kar Wai’s New Film; and More (indieWIRE)
+ Remembering when he was on top (LA Times)
+ Cannes 2006.9: ‘Borat’ Screens. I Like. (Matt Dentler’s Blog)
+ Pedro Almodovar, Rounding Out Cruz’s, Um, Career (Washington Post)
+ CANNES DISPATCH: #2 – On The Third Day Fast Food Took A Hit (IFC News)

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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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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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