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The doubtful harm of the comedy.

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"And in these films, this is jamming. This is actor jamming."
At Slate, Bryan Curtis writes that "Only someone truly uncharitable could resist the charms of Christopher Guest, the ringleader of an agile troupe of mockumentarians. After watching Guest’s oeuvre, including his latest, For Your Consideration, I am afraid I am that man." We’ve been off Guest for, oh, a decade now, so we’re not ones to argue. Why would we need to when David Poland is there to do it for us? Curtis takes issue with the fact that Guest "rarely chooses satirical targets that present much of a challenge," and that he’s given critical leeway because his films are improvised: "To read his reviews, you would get the idea that improvisation is a funnier—and more authentic—form of comedy than conventional mirth-making." At The Hot Button, Poland responds that

Consensus is not a valueless thing. I am happy to have Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. But taking a critical position based on one’s perceived notion of consensus is insanity. And had Curtis bothered to check RT before getting so upset that Guest was "getting away with it," he would have seen a 53% rating for Guest’s latest film.

If Curtis’ piece were more of a hatchet job that would seem a bit more reasonable, but it’s not, and we’d still agree with him that Guest is a bit of a sacred cow. While on the subject of "For Your Consideration," Susan Wloszczyna at USA Today writes of Catherine O’Hara‘s fearsome end facelift face:

"She did it herself," says director Christopher Guest, who has used the actress in all his improv satires, including Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. "I said to her, ‘You play a character who has a face lift.’ She said, ‘I can’t put anything on my skin. It’s too sensitive. But I can do that look myself.’ She can only do that face for three minutes, it’s so tiring. But she is brilliant."

And a quick update on the "Borat" backlash: Carl DiOrio at the Hollywood Reporter writes about Fox’s current legal troubles, and adds that:

Meanwhile, much has been made of whether British-born Baron Cohen — who came to prominence in this country on HBO’s similar mockumentary series "Da Ali G Show" — will be able to pull off his phony-interview high jinks again in a planned picture for Universal, "Bruno," based on another one of his fictional characters. But film and legal community observers also have been wondering whether Universal will be watching for legal lessons learned in the process of Fox’s defending itself from "Borat"-related litigation.

George Saunders at the New Yorker suggests some "reshoots":

“GANGSTA” SECTION: The scene where Borat says something intentionally offensive to the inner-city black guys—where is that scene? I have been unable to find it. Here I definitely suggest a reshoot. In the attachment, I have provided a list of common racial slurs that Sacha could try out on “the brothers,” just to see what they do to him. My thought is, that seems to be the ethos of the rest of the film—i.e., Sacha saying/doing the most offensive things possible, in order to elicit a reaction—so I sense a little inconsistency here. Thoughts?

Hah. Jeremy Dauber at the Christian Science Monitor has a "modest proposal" (but Swift, he is not) that we use the threat of satire for foreign relations:

Just imagine Condoleezza Rice suggesting across the negotiating table that, in return for certain guarantees of liberal reform, the "Borat" sequel could be arranged to be set in, say, Turkmenistan rather than Azerbaijan. Or the stick: imagine John Bolton sidling over to a member of a certain UN delegation, slipping a screenplay into their hands, and intimating that if particular non-proliferation treaties aren’t entered into, South Park‘s Trey Parker and Matt Stone will set "Team America II" entirely in their capital city.

The Guardian‘s Joe Queenan does not attempt humor or subtlety:

When Borat was first released, blue-state sophisticates in New York and Los Angeles were delirious, overjoyed that Baron Cohen was savaging evangelicals and cowboys and hicks, as if this were either daring or original. Their rationale was that Cohen was merely playing with our heads, forcing us to reassess our convictions. No, he isn’t. Baron Cohen is just another English public school boy who hates Americans. It is fine to hate Americans; it is one of Europe’s oldest traditions. But the men who flew the bombing raids over Berlin and the men who died at Omaha Beach and the women who built the Flying Fortresses and Sherman tanks that helped defeat Hitler are the very same people that Baron Cohen pisses all over in Borat. A lot of folks named Cohen would not even be here making anti-American movies if it were not for the hayseeds he despises.

And at the Toronto Star, Peter Howell writes about the "Borat effect," linking the film to Michael Richards‘ racist nightclub outburst:

As Borat showed us, shock humour now has to be about something, or rather someone. Find someone to pick on, even if they aren’t your own size, and take ’em down with hate — but remember to keep smiling while you’re doing it. Even better, pretend that you’re doing it to demonstrate the hatred that resides within all of us, which is Cohen’s professed justification.

We? Are simultaneously exhausted by reading about the film and fascinated by the discussion — particularly those who would call into question Baron Cohen’s politics, subversiveness or lack thereof.

+ Christopher Guest (Slate)
+ November 27, 2006 (The Hot Button)
+ ‘Consideration’ gets a lift from O’Hara (USA Today)
+ Fox fires back at ‘Borat’ suit (HR)
+ “BORAT”: THE MEMO (New Yorker)
+ For make benefit of world peace (CS Monitor)
+ ‘The honeymoon is over’ (Guardian)
+ Blame it on Borat effect (Toronto Star)

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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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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