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What’s Up In December

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Repo Man,” Universal Pictures, 1984]

“Babel” with Alejandro González Iñárritu

Dec 1

Mexican director Iñárritu will be on hand at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens for a screening of his latest starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett. Iñárritu loves movies with multiple, connected storylines, as demonstrated in his two previous films (also screening in the following weeks), the highly underrated “Amores Perros” and the grossly overrated “21 Grams.”

The Tenth Annual Festival of New French Cinema

Dec 1-10

This film festival, an annual Chicago tradition, presents up-and-coming French directors and stars in films that will most likely never make it to American shores again. This year’s highlights include “Gentilles”, the latest from Sophie Fillières; an aging lounge singer played by Gérard Depardieu in “The Singer”; and the brother comedy “Dans Paris” starring Romain Duris, last seen in “The Beat That My Heart Skipped.”

Walter Mirisch

Dec 1-31

The Museum of Modern Art in New York presents this retrospective on prolific Hollywood producer Walter Mirisch, who’s been in the film business for over sixty years and helped create some of the most memorable American films in history. Films to be screened during this retrospective include “In the Heat of the Night,” Billy Wilder’s “Some Like It Hot,” and one of Anthony Mann’s last Westerns, “Man of the West.”

2006 British Television Advertising Awards

Dec 1-30

This long-standing tradition of the Twin Cities continues for another year, presenting the best in British commercials from 2006. One of the highlights for this year’s showcase includes Garrison Keillor’s (of “A Prairie Home Companion” fame) spots for Honda, the top ad of the past three years. Opening night is expected to sell out as usual.

“Repo Man” with Zander Schloss

Dec 1

Legendary punk icon Zander Schloss, bassist for the Circle Jerks, appears live at the Alamo in Austin, TX for the screening of Alex Cox’s “Repo Man,” a comedy about repossession, cars, aliens, televangelism, and all things punk rock. Think “SLC Punk,” but a bit more in-the-moment and a lot more Harry Dean Stanton.

17th Annual Washington Jewish Film Festival

Dec 2-3

D.C.’s AFI Silver Theatre once again hosts this screening of important films by Jewish filmmakers. This year’s films include “Nina’s Home,” the final film from the late Richard Dembo; the female comedy “You’re So Pretty”; and “Steel Toe,” starring Oscar nominee David Strathairn as a Jewish lawyer assigned to the case of a racist skinhead.

“Inland Empire” with David Lynch

Dec 2

First screened there during the New York Film Festival, “Inland Empire” returns to the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center, followed by a discussion with filmmaker David Lynch. Lynch hopefully will help us answer our questions about his foray into high-definition video, his direction of the fantastic Laura Dern, and what the hell this film is about.

Mondovino: The Series

Dec 2-10

Documentarian Jonathan Nossiter expands upon his 2005 film “Mondovino” with this ten-hour series developed from the cuts of his film. The series chronicles his forays into the world of winemaking and the people behind the industry. Takes place at NYC’s MoMA.

Salute to Will Smith

Dec 3

Queen’s Museum of the Moving Image presents this black-tie affair and future Bravo telecast highlighting the career of prolific actor, musician, and second-favorite Man in Black Will Smith, just in time for the release of his latest “The Pursuit of Happyness.”

A Century Ago: The Films of 1906″

Dec 6

The Academy presents this retrospective on the year of film in 1906, the year when nickelodeons expanded the increasingly popular new entertainment medium and filmmakers continued to push the boundaries of storytelling. In Beverly Hills.

Robert Altman’s “California Split”

Dec 6

The late and great Robert Altman’s offbeat gambling comedy starring Elliot Gould and George Segal will screen at the Avon Theatre Film Center in Stamford, CT as a part of their Critic’s Choice program. Altman sadly passed away late last month; be sure to catch one of his most underrated films.

A Salute to Lupita Tovar

Dec 7

Popular Mexican actress Lupita Tovar receives this salute courtesy of the Academy as they honor one of the most popular Mexican actresses of the silent and early sound days. Tovar starred in the Spanish-language versions of “The Cat Creeps” and “Dracula,” conducting their filming at night while their English counterparts filmed during daylight, and, most notably, the Mexican sound film “Santa,” the first popular sound film produced in Mexico using the newly developed Rodriguez Sound System. Tovar would go on to start a family of filmmakers, including producer son Pancho Kohner, actress daughter Susan Kohner, and writer-director grandsons Paul and Chris Weitz. Takes place at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

Spanish Cinema Now!

Dec 8-26

Following the popular reception of Pedro Almodóvar’s “Volver” and Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth”, 2006 appears to be the Year of Spanish Cinema. NYC’s Film Society of Lincoln Center presents the year’s best films in Spanish cinema, sans Almodóvar and del Toro, with this month-long program. Highlights include Agustín Díaz Yanes’ “Alatriste” starring Viggo Mortensen in yet another swordsman hero role; Antonio Chavarrías’ update on the film noir in “Celia’s Lives,” and Esteve Riambau and Elisabet Cabeza’s Spanish Civil War-set fantasy adventure “The Magicians.”

Peter Mintun’s Movietone Follies of 2007

Dec 11

We love the combination of live music and film. Pianist and pop culture historian Peter Mintun conducts the history of the Fox studio’s music and song from its earliest Movietone scores for silent movies to the Golden Age of the Fox musical — expect this one to be fun. At New York’s Film Forum.

An Evening with Oliver Stone and “World Trade Center”

Dec 11

Oliver Stone will be at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City to discuss what some have called his most controversial film to date, citing a strictly conservative filmmaking style that counters many of his previous radical works. Hopefully Stone will explain exactly why he believes “respectful” filmmaking also includes heavy-handed melodrama.

The Pink Panther Films

Dec 15-16

Forget that dreadful Steve Martin film from last year that sullied the reputation of the Pink Panther. The American Cinematheque at Santa Monica’s Aero Theater presents the original (and far more humorous) Blake Edwards/Peter Sellers Pink Panther films of the 1960s and 70s. Sellers’ Inspector Clouseau is still one of the greatest characters to ever grace, slip, stumble, and fall over the cinematic screen.

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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.


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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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.


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.



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 and the IFC app.

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