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DID YOU READ

The week’s critic wrangle: “Who Killed the Electric Car?” Jerri Blank did.

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Even for a long weekend, this one’s packed — here in New York, beyond the films below, we count at least six other indie openings, including Takashi Miike’s "The Great Yokai War," Iraq doc "The Blood of My Brother," Bollywood superhero flick "Krrish," pedophilia (!) comedy "Say Uncle," IFC’s own arty bull riding doc "Rank" and Kyle Henry‘s Independent Spirit Award nominee "Room"…and all of these are in addition to "The Devil Wears Prada" and "Superman Returns." It’s both exhilarating and frustrating — more movies (and many of them worth seeing), it seems, then there are people to see them.

We all did.
+ "Who Killed the Electric Car?": Ah, yet more doctivism. But Chris Paine‘s debut effort may be "one of the more successful additions to the growing ranks of issue-oriented documentaries," as Manohla Dargis at the New York Times writes. She finds his tale of corporations and government corruption quashing zero-emission vehicles familiar, but still lauds it as "a story Mr. Paine tells with bite." At Salon, Andrew O’Hehir notes that the film is "a straightforward work of advocacy that wouldn’t pass muster as journalism. But so what?" While he find that "Electric Car" "isn’t an especially dynamic or visually engaging film," he still insists that "By the end you’ll be worked into a lather one way or another. Paine crams in more theories, ideas and arguments than the movie can easily hold, but that’s OK with me."

Rob Nelson at the Village Voice is unimpressed (to say the least) with Paine’s fondness for celebrity talking head interviews (most notably Phyllis Diller):

The real question is why this purportedly impassioned documentary investigation of a great subject—the culture’s conspiratorial dismissal of eco-friendly alternatives to the gas-guzzler—would assume such massive viewer disinterest that it coats the pill with C-list celebrity NutraSweet, including Martin Sheen voiceovers ("As the 20th century gathered speed . . . ") that would sound unforgivably hackneyed even on basic cable.

At indieWIRE/Reverse Shot, Kristi Mitsuda is generally bemused by the lack of aesthetic sense most new documentaries (including this one) show, she concludes that

Looking down from the director’s helicopter at the carcasses of crushed EV1s– so threatened was GM by evidence of its creation that it had existing models destroyed–damned if I didn’t leave the theater in furious mourning for the loss of a car the existence of which I hadn’t even been aware two hours prior.

And Michael Koresky muses that "Paine’s entertaining expose often plays less like a raise-the-roof Michael Moore rampage than an extended ’20/20′ segment."

 

"Not THAT Megawati Sukarnoputri."
+ "Strangers With Candy": Oof…in New York, few heart Amy Sedaris’ big-screen resurrection of the canceled cult TV series. Michael Atkinson at the Village Voice writes:

The movie, for those unfamiliar with the show, represents a particular varietal of arrhythmic, conscientiously anti-witty comedy. Andy Kaufman is the style’s St. Joan, occupying the borderland between blackout yuks and discomfiting performance art. Often enough, overripe unfunniness is the joke.

He also wonders at the way the film "regularly lampoons junkie-reparation melodramas and after-school specials, but with so little focus it’s never clear what the film, or even Sedaris’s vaudeville buffoon incarnation, is supposed to be parodying. That may be its fascination for some—it’s a satire without a baseline, free-floating in its own self-indulgent ether."

At the New York Times, A.O. Scott is somewhat more forgiving:

Like many feature films based on small-screen, short-form comedy, it feels more like a long, sloppy "very special" episode than a movie. Still, devotees of the series, admirers of Ms. Sedaris and fake-news junkies who can never get enough of Mr. Colbert will find reasons to see it and to convince themselves that it is funnier and more satisfying than it really is.

 

"That means you're in love with me."
+ "The Motel": Michael Kang‘s Sundance favorite opened at the Film Forum on Wednesday. Michael Atkinson (who seems to be on a bit of a tear) growls that "American indies are trapped in a ghetto of second-class homogenization, less pandering than Hollywood but just as conservative," and while noting it’s not fair to fault a lone film for this, moans that "the underwhelming syncopation of make-nice clichés is too familiar." Stephen Holden is more fond, if less interesting, labelling it "a small, perfectly observed portrait." Most enthusiasic is Andrew O’Hehir, who writes "All the ingredients of this coming-of-age fable are individually familiar, but you rarely see them come together so well…There were half a dozen occasions, maybe more, when I roared out loud with laughter. This just may be a filmmaker with great things in him; this one’s pretty damn good."

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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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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.

via GIPHY

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!

via GIPHY

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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