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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: December 30th, 2006

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “The Tiger and the Snow,” Strand Releasing, 2006]

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

“Arthur and the Invisibles”

So Luc Besson, director of “The Professional” and the cult fav “The Fifth Element,” plans on retiring from directing following his latest film, which is a… children’s animated feature? It features a mixture of CGI animation and live action as Arthur (Freddy Highmore) goes in search of his grandfather in a mystical land to save his house from eeeeeeeeevil real estate developers. The highlight? David Bowie as the voice of the antagonist Maltazard. Nice.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Black Christmas”

For those who don’t want to see a Christmas or potential Oscar film this week, check out this unnecessary remake of the classic 1974 cult film “Black Christmas.” The gore factor’s been upgraded since the original, but early reviews call the film lazy and uninspired. Courtesy of “Willard” director Glen Morgan.

Opens wide (official site).

“Children of Men”

Alfonso Cuarón’s latest might go down as one of the best films of the year, but its bleak tone and near absence of ad campaign might turn the film into a box office failure. So see it. Please.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Dead Girl”

Actor/director Karen Moncrieff follows up her 2002 Sundance success “Blue Car” with an effort that’s netted a few Spirit Award nominations. The talented cast includes Toni Collette, Marcia Gay Harden and Mary Beth Hurt. The film describes how a young woman’s murder affects the lives of inhabitants of a small town; think “Twin Peaks” meets Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, only Kevin Bacon’s dead and being played by Brittany Murphy.

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

“Factory Girl”

Sienna Miller, tabloid star and on-off girlfriend of Jude Law, has become a major name despite having yet to have acted in a film anyone can remember. In a fabulous twist of casting, she managed to land the starring role in this biopic of counter-culture icon Edie Sedgwick, also famous for nothing in particular. The film may have both Lou Reed and Bob Dylan pissed off, but Guy Pearce as Andy Warhol? We’re there.

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

“Fast Track”

One would think that a film starring TV comedy veterans Zach Braff and a wheelchair-bound Jason Bateman vying for the affections of a woman would have the possibility of being funny. Unfortunately, the film seems to be embarrassing to just about everyone involved. It makes a one-week limited run in major cities before being released wide in the middle of January, exactly where it belongs.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Miss Potter”

The last time Renee Zellweger went British on us, we were treated to that awful “Bridget Jones” sequel. The ‘wegs goes family (and awards) friendly in this romantic story about Beatrix Potter, the author of “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” and her quest for love, happiness and success in early 20th century England. Ewan McGregor and Emily Watson provide supporting duties, and it’s good to see Chris Noonan of “Babe” back directing.

Opens in Los Angeles (official site).

“Notes on a Scandal”

Dame Judi Dench reunites with her “Iris” director Richard Eyre in a film that’s got Oscar written all over it. Cate Blanchett plays an art teacher who enters into an affair with one of her students, causing upheaval in both her personal and professional lives. Mmmmm…melodrama…

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Pan’s Labyrinth”

Guillermo del Toro’s latest is being proclaimed as his best work yet as a young girl falls into her own imagination to escape the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War. The film has been hailed by critics and fans alike as one of the year’s most imaginative and already has been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Foreign Film.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Perfume: The Story of a Murderer”

A tortured genius in 18th century France feels that in order to make the ultimate perfume, he needs to sacrifice many a young virgin. “Run Lola Run” director Tom Tykwer performs the unimaginable, as he somehow brings the world of smell to the big screen. We expect a lot of close-ups of noses…

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Tiger and the Snow”

After delighting a few and annoying many more at the Oscars after winning Best Foreign Language Film, Roberto Benigni seriously creeped us out with his adult version of “Pinocchio.” Now he tackles the latest conflict in Iraq through the prism of a sweet romance about a guy trying to woo his ex-girlfriend, who just so happens to be unconscious and in a coma. Somewhere, Pedro Almodóvar is weeping.

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

“Unconscious”

Speaking of — frequent Almodóvar collaborator Leonor Watling and Goya Award-winner Luis Tosar star in Joaquín Oristrell’s period comedy about the sexual revolution in early 20th century Barcelona. Check out the witty trailer.

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

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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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