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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: December 15th, 2006

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “The Good German,” Warner Bros., 2006]

A round-up of the best (or worst) $10 you’ll spend this week.

“Automatons”

New York City-based genre filmmaker James Felix McKenney’s latest film depicts a future in which one woman is left alive after a generations-long war with robots nearly eliminated the human race. The film was shot on an extremely low-budget and will be at the Pioneer Theater in NYC for a two-week run.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Breaking and Entering”

Anthony Minghella puts the epics aside in order to direct his first original screenplay since 1991’s “Truly Madly Deeply,” good news for us, as “Truly Madly Deeply” remains our favorite Minghella film. “Breaking and Entering” reteams the director with Jude Law yet again; he plays an architect whose professional and personal lives are thrown into turmoil following a robbery at his office located in the seedy inner-city section of King’s Cross in London. Juliette Binoche co-stars as a Serbian immigrant and Robin Wright Penn does some of her best acting in years as Law’s longtime girlfriend. Now this is the Minghella we all know and love.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (official site).

“Brooklyn Rules”

More miss-than-hit director Michael Corrente directs this film set in mid-1980s Brooklyn about three friends whose lives change completely after one of them becomes enamored with a mafia lifestyle. The film is written by Terence Winter, a longtime “Sopranos” contributor and writer of that awful 50 Cent film from last year, so expect some serious tough-guy scene-chewing from everybody. And Freddie Prinze Jr. playing mean? Not buying it.

Opens in limited release (IMDb page).

“Charlotte’s Web”

We’re tellin’ ya, talking pigs are a serious goldmine. The “Babe” series managed to garner over $250 million worldwide and since talking animals are all the rage these days, Paramount is probably going to be in for another winner this holiday season. “13 Going on 30″‘s Gary Winick is tapped for a Hollywood-studded romp through the barn as the voices of Julia Roberts, Steve Buscemi, John Cleese, Oprah and many others voice the many talking animals in the film. Plus, the film has rich source material in the classic E.B. White book, which has sold over 45 million copies since it was first published in the 1950s. Oh, and lest we forget, there’s also Dakota Fanning at her most irascible, so it’s fun for the whole family.

Opens wide (official site).

“Dreamgirls”

Okay, so let us get this straight: Beyoncé Knowles plays the Diana Ross-like diva, Jamie Foxx actually gets to sing, and Eddie Murphy tries to make us all forget about “The Haunted Mansion” in a role that many are saying may earn him an Oscar nom and, for once, establish his credibility as a serious actor. Directed by Academy-friendly “Kinsey” filmmaker Bill Condon, “Dreamgirls” will likely garner a slew of nominations but it will likely fail to further resuscitate the musical genre (see “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Rent”) and probably will be forgotten by this time next year. Hey, that’s Oscar for ya.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (official site).

“Eragon”

Fanboys and fifth graders from all across the country can stop foaming at the mouth as the long-awaited first feature based on Christopher Paolini’s popular fantasy novel finally comes to the big screen. “Eragon” tells the story of a young boy who befriends a dragon, and Jeremy Irons who goes on a quest to find his dead uncle’s killer. Call us nostalgic fools, but dragons ain’t got nothing on flying dog creature things.

Opens wide (official site).

“The Good German”

It seems like the George Clooney-Steven Soderbergh romance of the past decade or so isn’t ending any time soon. Regardless, it’s a relationship that just can’t seem to do anything wrong (except, of course, “Solaris”). Soderbergh goes the classical Hollywood route as Clooney, tapping his inner Bogart, plays an American war correspondent investigating the death of his murdered driver and his relationship with a mysterious woman in post-World War II Berlin.

Opens in New York, Los Angeles and Toronto (official site).

“Home of the Brave”

Long-time successful producer Irwin Winkler really lost us with his past few directorial efforts, from lousy musical biopics (“De-Lovely”) to tired melodramas (“Life as a House”) to films starring Val Kilmer (“At First Sight”). Winkler continues to raise our questioning eyebrows with his latest film about soldiers returning from their tours in Iraq, most notably over the film’s casting of Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel and Mr. Fiddy Cent. Somehow, we’re expecting another dud.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (official site).

“The Pursuit of Happyness”

You know, we must admit, we don’t want Will Smith to get all sappy on us. He really seems like too much of a fun guy. But in his latest, the Fresh Prince gets all melodrama-y in this film that seems perfectly suited for Italian director Gabriele Muccino (who Smith sought out personally) in this story about a down-on-his-luck salesman who struggles to make ends meet for his five-year-old son after he scores a prestigious yet unpaid internship at a stock brokerage firm. Expect lots of tears and possibly an Oscar nom for Smith.

Opens wide (official site).

“Reminiscing in Tempo”

Nobody knows how to party like a documentarian! But seriously, folks, filmmaker Gary Keys documents the spectacular parties thrown by Ruth Ellington for her jazz musician brother Duke every year, even after his death in 1977. This film includes classic footage of the Duke Ellington Orchestra from 1968 and includes interviews with Bobby Short, Al Hibbler, and Billy Taylor.

Opens in New York (IMDb page).

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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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.

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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…

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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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