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Odds: Wednesday – Magical black men and the Ancient Mariner.

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Is that you, God? It's me, Ofelia.
A few months ago, when that film about Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega going to Target and then going to Arby’s came out, we longed for someone to put together a list like this week’s at the Onion AV Club — we were not up to the challenge ourselves. They cite Christopher John Farley’s 2000 Time article "That Old Black Magic":

Farley explains them this way: "Hollywood screenwriters don’t know much
about black people other than what they hear on records by white
hip-hop star Eminem. So instead of getting life histories or love
interests, black characters get magical powers." Facile? Sure. But an
awful lot of movies, especially from the past decade, fit the bill.

And, for the record, only two of their 13 choices involve Freeman.

What is the greatest film of all time? According to Andrew Sarris at the New York Observer, it’s Max Ophüls"Madame de…" And next:

Still, I usually answer questions about the greatest film of all time by immediately throwing in my two runners-up: Kenji Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu Monogatari (1953) and Jean Renoir’s La Règle du Jeu (1939). Then, if I can grasp the questioner’s lapels long enough (much like Coleridge’s crazed Ancient Mariner), I rattle off the rest of my all-time ten-greatest list: Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), John Ford’s The Searchers (1956), Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour (1967), F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise (1927), Charles Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) and Buster Keaton’s The General (1927).

Some days you feel like a true cinephile; other days you feel like you’re just a dabbler. Reading that paragraph makes us want to curl up under our desk, unable to bear the shame of being such a dilettante — were we to ever find ourselves talking to someone with handy lapels to grab, we’d be hard pressed to commit to even a definitive all-time top three to bellow in that person’s face.

At the San Francisco Chronicle, Matthai Chakko Kuruvila considers "Pan’s Labyrinth" as a non-denominational religious fable:

"It’s very hard to stay away from religion. We’re talking about a realm of experience that gives us our greatest meaning," says Vamsee Juluri, a Hindu and a professor of media studies at the University of San Francisco. " ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ gives us the language of universal religion at a time when it’s very hard to do that in the popular culture."

This isn’t an angle that even crossed our mind when we saw the film — doesn’t that equate religion to a fanciful but ultimately somewhat harmful escape from the daily hardships of life?

Alejandro Jodorowsky likes Korean films. Via Kim Tae-jong at the Korea Times:

"Every night, I watch a film, usually an Asian one. I’ve watched a lot of Korean films. Hard to name them all, but I was surprised by Korean film’s refreshing elements in their themes, acting and techniques. I think Korean films have already outdone Hong Kong and Japanese movies," he said.

He named "King and the Clown," "Forbidden Quest," "Old Boy" and "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" as some of his favorite Korean movies.

"Borat"‘s loss of a domain name has been cited in the State Department’s annual human rights report, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Steve Daly interviews Frank Miller at Entertainment Weekly:

300 is largely faithful to your material. But it takes the character of Queen Gorgo, who only appears in a couple of panels in your version, and gives her a major subplot with a character called Theron, an evil politician. What did you think of that addition?

At first I very much disagreed with it. My main comment was, ”This is a boys’ movie. Let it be that.” The story itself, in historical terms, really didn’t involve her all that much, from most accounts. But Zack had his reasons. He wanted to show that King Leonidas was fighting for something, by giving him a romantic aspect and by lingering in Sparta a little bit.

And Tom Mes at Midnight Eye talks to Nobuhiro Yamashita, whose "Linda Linda Linda" is a film dear to our heart. His latest film, the comedy "Matsugane Ransha Jiken (The Matsugane Potshot Affair)" opened last week in Japan — in a review at the Japan Times, Mark Schilling gave it a lukewarm review, sighing that "What passes for comedy in the Japanese mass media is often little better than ijime (bullying) played for laughs — one comedian baiting or beating another — so in a sense Yamashita is simply going mainstream, but, no fan of ijime in any of its infinitely varied forms, I watched much of the film stone-faced."

+ Inventory: 13 Movies featuring magical black men (AV Club)
+ The Greatest Film of All Time: Ophüls’ Madame de … Is Coming Back to Town (NY Observer)
+ Embraced by many religions, ‘Labyrinth’ allows broad discussion of faith issues (SF Chronicle)
+ Cult Director Jodorowsky Likes Korean Films (Korea Times)
+ Borat seen as human rights victim by U.S. gov’t (Hollywood Reporter)
+ Miller’s Tales (Entertainment Weekly)
+ Nobuhiro Yamashita (Midnight Eye)
+ Potshots that fail to slay you (Japan Times)

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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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GIFs via Giphy

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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