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Love, not suicide.
Here’s a look at who’s been getting huffy about what lately:

The family of Col. Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, the World War II hero who took part in a failed Hitler assassination attempt, is not happy that Tom Cruise will be playing their famed relative in a recently announced film to be directed by Bryan Singer. Via Allan Hall at The Scotsman:

Count Caspar Schenk von Stauffenberg, the soldier’s grandson, said: "I have nothing against him [Cruise] and can even separate his work from his beliefs in Scientology. But I and other family members are worried that the picture will be financed by the sect and be used to get across its propaganda. Unfortunately the family Stauffenberg can do nothing about this. My grandfather is a figure from history."

Gregg Goldstein at the Hollywood Reporter writes that fifteen suicide prevention groups are prepared to protest After Dark Films’ planned suicide-centric advertising for "Wristcutters: A Love Story." "Haha!" says After Dark Films. "Why do we need to advertise when suicide prevention groups will do it for us?" Except they do not, as they were recently forced to pull questionable advertising for Elisha Cuthbert torture vehicle "Captivity."

"Critics are supposed to share perspective on a work, to think critically," writes Lewis Beale at The Reeler:

Read some of the greats — Kael, Agee, Hoberman — and you realize they have a way of looking at things: a historical and cultural perspective that adds up to an aesthetic world view. They’re not reviewers; reviewers tell you what the movie’s about. Critics tell you what it means. Get the difference? Critics are not meant to be Masters of the Vox Populi, but people we read for intelligent, reasoned, probing analysis.

It’s a reaction to the apparently critic-proof successes "Wild Hogs," "300," et al., and the re-raised question of whether critics matter. Beale suggests that critics no longer bother with films like the ones mentioned: "you’d think a critic’s time would be better spent writing about deserving indies, thoughtful foreign releases or Hollywood flicks like Zodiac, with its passionate look at obsession and physical decline, that actually merit an essay." We discussed this model of criticism briefly during our SXSW Blogging on Film panel — some of our fellow bloggers have taken the approach of generally championing films they like and want to support, seeing negative reviews as a waste of time. It’s an approach we respect but don’t share — it’s also one we don’t see working for mainstream press. Beyond the fact that it would permanently relegate criticism to relative obscurity, it also presumes a certain stratification of "important cinema" that we find distasteful. Cinema is a populist art — some films offer considerably more depth than others, but it doesn’t mean that even the most idiotic of features doesn’t have cultural value, at least as a reflection of our time and place. As we pointed out before, "300" may be inane, but the analysis and discussion it’s sparked have been the most interesting of the young year.

Over at the Guardian film blog, Ronald Bergan suggests that a deterioration in film criticism has sprung from critics, in general, being undereducated. He provides his own list of minimum requirements of what every film critic should know. Also at the Guardian film blog, Michael White weighs in on the "300" uproar, writing that "It may be homoerotic camp, but 300 also strikes me as a dangerous piece of fantasy, a racist confrontation between the good guys (the west) and those nasty foreigners."

At the Observer, Barbara Ellen decries the representations of Beatrix Potter in "Miss Potter" and Jane Austen in the upcoming "Becoming Jane," writing that Hollywood has taken to "rebranding them (or should one say re-blanding?) as wispy, likable, ‘fragrant’ characters."

And an AP story notes that Disney is reconsidering a DVD release of its controversial and long hidden-away 1946 animated feature "Song of the South." The un-PC film is a holy grail for eBay trawling novelty-driven cinephile (though the out-of-print "Salò" Criterion DVD tends to fetch higher prices). James Pappas, associate professor of African-American Studies at the University of New York at Buffalo, is quoted in the piece: "I think it’s important that these images are shown today so that especially young people can understand this historical context for some of the blatant stereotyping that’s done today."

+ Cruise’s anti-Nazi film role irks family (The Scotsman)
+ Groups protest ‘Wristcutters’ ads (Hollywood Reporter)
+ Stop the Presses (The Reeler)
+ What every film critic must know (Guardian Blog)
+ 300 is a dangerous piece of fantasy (Guardian)
+ Stop prettying up these great women (Observer)
+ ‘Song of the South’ release mulled despite possible controversy (USA Today)

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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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