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DID YOU READ

Odds: Wednesday – “Cache” fallout and art equalling life.

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Oh, Gerard Butler.
At the LA Times, Robert W. Welkos notes that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has updated its Oscar rules again:

In one change, entries in the best foreign-language category will no longer have to be in an official language of the country submitting the film. So long as the dominant language is not English, the academy noted, a picture from any country may be in any language or combination of languages.

This is a direct response to Saverio Costanzo‘s "Private," last year’s Italian Oscar submission, which was disqualified because it’s primarily in Arabic, but for most people the change will call to mind Michael Haneke‘s superb "Caché," which Austria was unable to submit for Oscar consideration because the film is in French.

We’d always imagined that Johnny Depp‘s declaration that his Jack Sparrow was modeled after Keith Richards was a claim he manufactured on the spur of the moment to entertain himself on the publicity circuit, but see what’s come of it: Richards has actually signed on to play Sparrow’s father in the third "Pirates of the Caribbean" film (via AP).

Via Chosun Ilbo: Park Chan-wook has been asked to sit on the jury of the 63rd Venice Film Festival.

Via BBC, Chinese censors have banned breakout Korean hit "The King and the Clown" due to the film’s gay subtext and sexually explicit language. Nothing unexpected (homosexuality is considered a mental disorder in China) but interesting in that, as Filmbrain points out in his recent review of the film, "it calls to mind ‘Farewell My Concubine,’ a film ‘King and the Clown’ definitely owes a debt to."

In the New York Times, Charles McGrath has a great piece on the many "Beowulf"s of stage and screen, including Sturla Gunnarsson‘s version, which opens in New York this Friday:

It’s tempting to say that every age gets the "Beowulf" it deserves, or one that suggests what’s most on people’s minds: the kooky sci-fi version; the brooding, existential one; the sensitive anti-epic. What the original audience for "Beowulf" had on its mind was terror. They listened to the poem in circumstances much like the ones it describes, huddled together around a fire and fretting about what lurked outside in the darkness, and they knew something that some of the modern adapters may have lost sight of: that in the right circumstances it’s extremely pleasant to be scared out of your wits.

John Horn at the LA Times writes about how the filmmakers behind festival favorite "Quinceañera" worked for years in the porn industry first. (We had to rewrite that sentence three or four times to remove unintentional double entendres.) Fascinatingly, one of the films is a gay porn spoof of "The Ring" entitled "The Hole": "Before you’re gay…you see the hole." Horn outlines how it’s no longer a career kiss of death to have worked on porn:

"There is this presumption that people who work in porn somehow aren’t of very high quality," [Wash] Westmoreland says. "That if you’re an editor in porn, you’re not a good editor. That if you’re a porn cinematographer, you’re not any good. But nothing could be further from the truth."

In the Japan Times, Mark Schilling reviews Masahiro Kobayashi‘s 2005 Cannes contender "Bashing," "a sparely told, emotionally walloping film suggested by the real-life experiences of a Japanese woman who was on a self-styled volunteer mission in Iraq when she was captured by insurgents, held hostage and finally released unharmed. Back home, she was widely criticized by the media and public for going to Iraq in the first place, as well as for causing trouble for her rescuers and embarrassment for the nation."

Akash Arora at The Australian argues that Indian films have been unfairly and broadly categorized as prim affairs:

It’s widely, and wrongly, believed in the West that Indian movies are no-skin, no-sex affairs. And those who have brought Bollywood films to the West, instead of challenging and changing that image, have consistently fueled it.

"It’s what I call cultural pigeonholing, sticking to cliches to please the crowds," says Sydney-based Indian film-maker Anupam Sharma. "The West has a set image of India, which may not be entirely in sync with reality. Yet most forms of Indian arts and culture that are seen in the West seem to feed this (not so accurate) image rather than challenge it."

Last year, for instance, "Bend it Like Beckham" director Gurinder Chadha brought "Bride & Prejudice" to Australia with all the Bollywood bells and whistles. She was widely quoted as saying: "There’s no kissing in Indian movies."

"Which is all crap because Indian films had kissing scenes even in the silent-movie era," says Sharma, who is also the head of the Australia-India Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment Council.

At That Little Round-Headed Boy, there’s a splendid post about "The 25 tunes I discovered at the movies":

We’ve all had this happen: We’re watching a movie and this transcendent song comes spilling out, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s part of the texture of the film or just accompanying the closing credits. We love the song. We must have the song. The song will always bring back a sensory flashback to the movie, even if it’s the only thing we can remember about the movie.

We may have rushed out to purchase the soundtrack of Cuarón‘s "Great Expections" for that stupid "Life in Mono" song once upon a time. TLRHB’s list is significantly less fleeting.

Finally, on the occasion of its tenth birthday, Ain’t It Cool News asks its contributors "Imagine you’re trying to explain America to someone. What ten films would you show them, and why?"

+ Oscar rules altered for foreign films (LA Times)
+ Keith Richards to be in ‘Pirates’ movie (AP)
+ Park Chan-wook Asked to Sit on Venice Jury (Chosun Ilbo)
+ China bans film over gay themes (BBC)
+ Tears of a Clown (Like Anna Karina’s Sweater)
+ Politically Aware ‘Beowulfs’ Miss an Ancient Delight: Terror (NY Times)
+ The XXX factor (LA Times)
+ Campaign of hate (Japan Times)
+ No sex please, we’re Indian (The Australian)
+ Lights, camera, songs! The 25 tunes I discovered at the movies (That Little Round-Headed Boy)
+ AICN’s 10th Anniversary Article! AICN Picks The Greatest Films About America!! (AICN)

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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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