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DID YOU READ

Odds: Thursday – Logy.

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"Crash"y?
We’re running a bit of a fever at the moment and probably shouldn’t be trying to write anything. Fortunately, nothing much is going on today. A few quick links:

The Guardian reports that Sacha Baron Cohen is in talks to star alongside Johnny Depp and the just-added Helena Bonham Carter in Tim Burton‘s upcoming adaptation of "Sweeney Todd." Carter will play the pie-making Mrs. Lovett (natch), Baron Cohen’s rumored to be up to play rival barber Signor Adolfo Pirelli, a role which would offer him yet another chance to flaunt an outsized accent.

Speaking of Mr. Baron Cohen, Gina Serpe at E! reports that Kazakhstan Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat Aliyev has, in an interview with Kazakhstan Today, invited the comedian to visit the country:

"We must have a sense of humor and respect other people’s freedom of creativity," Aliyez said. "It’s useless to offend an artist and threaten to sue him. It will only further damage the country’s reputation and make Borat even more popular.

"I’d like to invite Cohen here. He can discover a lot of things. Women drive cars, wine is made of grapes and Jews are free to go to synagogue."

And yet, Kazakhstan continues to be inherently funny.

Via Empire, John Cusack is returning to both co-writing a script and playing an assassin: He’ll play a hired killer in the horrendously titled "Brand Hauser: Stuff Happens."

And Gideon Yago, perhaps sensing that MTV News host fame is fleeting, is making a move into indie film. According to Borys Kit at the Hollywood Reporter,  Yago sold his screenplay, entitled "Underdog," to Focus Features.

At the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell writes, essentially, about a company called Epagogix and the business of quantifying the potential for success of films in development. Most people have already shrugged and moved on, but David Poland at The Hot Button takes the bait:

Of course, most people object the idea that movies and their success can be turned into a mathematical formula in principle. The world is already filled with people who are anguished about how cookie-cutter studio filmmaking already is. So, suggestions that it should be even more formulaic are fighting words.

Anne Thompson at the Hollywood Reporter surveys the improbably consistent success of Sony Pictures Classics. We’ve always been impressed by the way (for the most part) SPC acquires the same type of films. No other distribution arm knows their niche so well, save maybe Lionsgate.

At the New York Times, Mark Russell reports from Pusan on "Crossing the Line," Daniel Gordon‘s third doc about North Korea. This one centers on James Dresnok, one of four defectors to North Korea from the US Army who because propaganda heroes for the North:

Mr. Dresnok says he is a true believer in the North Korean system. “I wouldn’t trade it for nuthin’,” he states emphatically. He is proud that two of his three sons attend the prestigious Foreign Language School in Pyongyang, saying he could never have afforded such an education in the United States. “I don’t want my sons to be an illiterate old man like me.” But he is a celebrity in North Korea, and although Pyongyang is poor by Western standards, it is the city of the elite for North Koreans. “Anyone living in Pyongyang is privileged,” [the film’s co-producer, Nick] Bonner said. “But the main force behind us was human interest.”

At The House Next Door, Ed Gonzalez is not fond of "Flags of Our Fathers":

The stink of Crash hovers over Flags of Our Fathers. A dramatization of James Bradley and Ron Powers‘s bestseller about the truth behind the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, the film is confirmation of Paul Haggis‘s predilection for exploitation and easy sentimentality. Million Dollar Baby, a good film, suffered from Haggis’s unmistakable lower-class condescension (fans of the film stumble when trying to rationalize the Fitzgerald Family Traveling Circus), and Flags of Our Fathers, adapted for the screen by Haggis and William Broyles Jr., uses a very real, largely unknown controversy as a jumping off point for a trite homily on how wars are sold to the American public. (Some will look for parallels to current events, except that would be giving the film the benefit of the doubt.) If Clint Eastwood‘s personality barely shines through it’s because Haggis’s cartoon politics strongarm the director’s vision.

Finally, thanks to Dennis Lim of (well, at the time) the Village Voice for tossing in a mention of us in his "Best local movie blog" entry (even if the title ultimately goes to DaveKehr.com) in this week’s issue.

+ Baron Cohen lined up for Burton’s Sweeney Todd (Guardian)
+ Kazakhs Beckon Borat (E! Online)
+ John Cusack Is Brand Hauser (Empire)
+ Focus sides with Yago’s ‘Underdog’ (Hollywood Reporter)
+ THE FORMULA (New Yorker)
+ October 18, 2006 (The Hot Button)
+ Moving pictures (Hollywood Reporter)
+ An American in North Korea, Pledging Allegiance to the Great Leader (NY Times)
+ Laying it on Thick: Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers (The House Next Door)
+ Best Local Movie Blog (Village Voice)

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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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