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DID YOU READ

Sweet Sixteen and Dying to be Kissed

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By Andrea Meyer

IFC News

Being a teenage girl ain’t easy. Sure, there are innocent pleasures of giggling with the girls over Tiger Beat — or some guy’s balls falling out of his shorts at the beach, but overnight breasts, sudden prettiness, sexual curiosity and uninvited attention make adolescent girlhood as confounding as it can be magical. While the John Hughes teen films of the 80s whitewashed sexuality in favor of fairytale kisses over a candlelit birthday cake, there are a lot of movies that dive right into the stickiness.

Watch “Lolita” licking her lolli, much to her stepdaddy’s despair. Poptart Juliette Lewis shamelessly flirting with a psychotic De Niro in “Cape Fear.” “Fat Girl”‘s impossibly beautiful Elena (Roxane Mesquida) doing “everything but” with the guy she snuck in through her bedroom window while her chubbier sister tries not to watch. Jodie Foster and her pack of “Foxes” competing to see who can suck the most faces (or was that me and my high school posse?) Carroll Baker’s child bride “Baby Doll” cozying up to 40-something Eli Wallach. “36 Fillette”‘s voluptuous, 14-year-old Lili prowling Biarritz for a man to take her virginity. Her New Zealand counterpart Janey slipping into her mom’s boyfriend’s bed in “Rain.” Gorgeous Vahina Giocante in “Lila Says” spewing obscenities too lewd to spill from her angelic lips. Aviva in “Palindromes” sleeping with boys and men, trying to get pregnant at 13. Baby-faced Chloë Sevigny in “Kids” learning that she is HIV-positive after having sex for the first time.

Sex is scary, but virginity is so over. Boys are immature and inexperienced, but men are old and hairy and off-limits. Male attention is crucial to fragile adolescent self-esteem, but don’t you wish they’d just leave you alone? Such is the plight of the pretty 13, 14, 15, 16-year-old who’s just sprouted boobs.

The latest film to masterfully portray the treacherous landscape of teenage girlhood is Australian director Cate Shortland’s debut, “Somersault” (winner of 13 Australian Film awards, including Best Film, Actress and Director), a movie about a girl just starting to learn what pretty can get her. Heidi, a sixteen-year-old who could be Nicole Kidman’s little sister, is pretty by anyone’s definition, with bold guilelessness and wonder that make her even more attractive. As played by newcomer Abbie Cornish, an Australian actress who is going to be a superstar, Heidi is delighted when her looks and charm bewitch men and women alike, but stung when she’s dismissed for the same qualities. Testing boundaries, she hits on her mother’s boyfriend and, when her mother catches them kissing, flees to a small ski town where she works at a gas station and sleeps with Joe, a local rich kid (Sam Worthington). Wracked with guilt and convinced her mother doesn’t love her anymore, Heidi believes that all she has to offer is her body. She throws herself at Joe and when they fight, at any other guy who will buy her a drink. But as much as we recoil at her self-destructive acts, we want to take her in our arms and cradle her, because what Heidi is really seeking is her mother’s love, and a stranger’s affection can’t quite cut it.

Heidi has entered the cinematic landscape of loveably precocious and pathetic jail bait confronting the world of sex and trying to make some sense of it, flirting, fighting, kissing and fucking — and hoping to make it to the other side, intact, alive and confident.

That said, here are my five all-time favorite underage movie hussies.

1. Linda (Phoebe Cates), “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”: Amy Heckerling’s groundbreaking 1982 cult hit showed in stark detail how humiliating adolescence could be. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays Stacy, a girl who has sex a couple of times with little joy, only to end up pregnant. Even more endearing is Stacy’s best friend Linda, played by then-Seventeen model, now-Mrs. Kevin Kline Cates. Linda brags about her mysterious boyfriend and their mind-blowing sex and in one famous scene shows Stacy how to fellate a carrot. In another, Linda walks in on Stacy’s brother while he’s jerking off to fantasies of her. Her horror suggests that she might not be as sophisticated as she purports, which is the root of her appeal. Linda talks the talk, but she’s really just a sweet girl who dreams about big love and looks hot in a bikini.

2. Connie (Laura Dern), “Smooth Talk”: Laura Dern oozes sexuality (see: “Wild at Heart”), but her big, blue eyes also convey bewilderment and hurt, filling up in a way that suggests the world is harsher than she’d imagined (see: “Blue Velvet”). In this early film, Dern plays a girl who’s all long limbs twisting around themselves as she waits impatiently for life to begin. Connie is at that age where she leaves the house in one outfit and transforms it with loud jewelry, makeup and unzipping once she hooks up with her friends at the mall. She is both scared to death of boys and boy-crazy. But the film is based on the Joyce Carol Oates’ creepy story “Where Are you Going, Where Have You Been?”, so welcome Arnold Friend (Treat Williams), an older guy who sets his sights on Connie. What begins as playful flirtation turns sinister, with Connie fleeing at one point from his lurid words to hide under her parents’ steps and cry, “Mommy!” The whole film can be seen as a metaphor for sexuality as experienced by a restless nymphet, who is no longer a child but not quite a woman yet either.

3. Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood), “Thirteen”: In Catherine Hardwicke’s furiously paced debut, sweet Tracy falls in with Evie (Nikki Reed), a “bad girl” who turns her world into the whirlwind she’s been waiting for all her life. They steal things, pierce their tongues, sneak out to take drugs and fool around with older guys. Drugged up and high on their own wildness, they are out of control. Wood’s performance is so real, it is painful to watch for anyone (like me) who was ever a wild child too cute for her own good and ready to tell childhood to fuck off and take an unrestrained leap toward a life without limits. Wood more or less reprises the role in the upcoming “Down in the Valley” (in theaters May 5), in which she plays Tobe, a character who could be Tracy three years later, a 16-year-old who has tried sex and likes it. She falls for an older cowboy (Ed Norton) and scratches and screams bloody murder when her dad tries to keep them apart.

4. Rizzo (Stockard Channing), “Grease”: Who really cares if Channing was 34 when she played Rydell High’s biggest slut? She was a total sexpot in her skintight dresses and satin Pink Ladies jacket. She had the acting chops to make us love the bitch who slammed sweet Sandy as being “lousy with virginity.” And she had the best voice in the cast, knocking “There are Worse Things I Could Do” — her ballad about the woes of being Rydell High’s biggest slut — out of the field.

5. Deedee (Christina Ricci), “The Opposite of Sex”: When she appeared in “The Ice Storm” at 17 as a gamine who kept crawling into bed with the neighborhood boys, it was clear that Ricci was born to play a seductress. In Don Roos’ hilariously dark directorial debut, she plays Deedee, a pregnant tramp with platinum blond hair, a potty mouth and no morals, who seduces her gay brother’s boyfriend and says things (in the film’s brilliantly acerbic narration) like: “I don’t have a heart of gold and I don’t grow one later.” She’s both precocious and juvenile, both the film’s bossy, manipulative villain and its funny-as-shit heroine. Deedee Truitt might be the best pubescent tramp ever to grace movie screens.

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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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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….

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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.

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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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