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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: March 23rd, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Guy Pearce in “First Snow,” Yari Film Group Releasing, 2007]

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

“Air Guitar Nation”

From spelling bees to crossword puzzles to mad hot ballrooms, filmmakers have found an interest in documenting something we can only describe as “competitive hobbies.” First time director Alexandria Lipsitz focuses on a group of selected individuals who dare to dream of air guitar greatness, as competitors from all across the globe meet in a small city in Finland to take part in the annual World Air Guitar Championships. Though we here at IFC News remain steadfast Guitar Hero II rockers, we’re hard-pressed to turn down anything guitar-related, real guitar or imaginary.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Color Me Kubrick”

After premiering nearly two years ago at the Dinard Festival of British Cinema, Brian W. Cook’s wildly eccentric film about a wildly eccentric poseur pretending to be a wildly eccentric director reaches US theaters. How can you not love John Malkovich as a fake Stanley Kubrick? Expect him to steal every scene in the film.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“First Snow”

First-time director Mark Fergus, who recently picked up his first Oscar nomination for the “Children of Men” adapted screenplay, co-wrote his debut feature about a hotshot salesman whose life goes into a tailspin after receiving an ominous fortune from a psychic. Guy Pearce stars as the man whose fate is left up to supernatural mysteries.

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

“The Hills Have Eyes 2”

“Rohtenburg” director Martin Weisz tackles the Wes Craven-penned sequel to that cannibal horror film from last year. Now, let’s take note, this is not the sequel to the European backpacking horror film or the one with the flesh-eating zombie/monkey virus or even another “Saw” film. Cannibals, people. Cannibals.

Opens wide (official site).

“Journey from the Fall”

This Vietnamese import from “The Anniversary” director Ham Tran follows what happens when a father is left behind in his native country as his family is forced to emigrate to the United States. Somewhere, we’re sure, Angelina Jolie is watching.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Last Mimzy”

You know, being the cinephiles that we are here at IFC News, we still have no idea what the hell a “mimzy” is. New Line Cinema founder and CEO Robert Shaye directs this kids’ film, his first since the 1990 crapfest “Book of Love,” about two siblings who begin to develop special powers after finding a mysterious box of toys. We’d guess that “The Office”‘s Rainn Wilson will be the best part of this one, but considering the film’s lack of positive buzz, theatrical release on a packed weekend, and Shaye’s directorial track record, we’re tempted to suggest that studio execs shouldn’t be headlining their own films anymore…

Opens wide (official site).

“Memory”

This Canadian suspense thriller from first-time feature director Bennett Davlin examines what happens when a medical researcher teams up with a doctor to root through the genetically stored memories of a serial killer. “Memory” stars Billy Zane and the hottest Cylon in “Battlestar Galactica,” Tricia Helfer.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Offside”

It might be a little early to proclaim “The Circle” director Jafar Panahi Iran’s answer to Almodóvar, as the Iranian director fills his films with women fighting against oppressive societies. But still — “Offside” tells the story of a group of young girls who dress as boys in order to sneak in to a World Cup soccer game, as women are not allowed in the stadium. Word of mouth for this one is mostly positive.

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

“The Page Turner”

A former gifted piano player returns to the musical conservatory that turned her away, inveigling herself in as the page turner for the chairwoman who caused her to fail her entrance to the school. Catherine Frot and Déborah François (of “L’Enfant”) star.

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

“Pride”

Based on a true story. Troubled teens growing up in rough urban neighborhoods. Inspirational teachers. You get the drill. We wouldn’t expect anything new in the underdog sports film “Pride,” from first-time director Sunu Gonera, but at least we get to see Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac act up a storm.

Opens wide (official site).

“The Prisoner or: How I Planned to Kill Tony Blair”

“Gunner Palace” directors Petra Epperlein and Michael Tucker present another documentary on the effects of war in a bombed-out Iraq as a freedom-loving Iraqi journalist is mistaken for Tony Blair’s possible assassin and sentenced to prison in Abu Ghraib. The film continues Epperlein and Tucker’s darkly comic take on the American occupation through the use of original comic book art and a Kafka-esque portrayal of the journalist’s imprisonment.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Reign Over Me”

Adam Sandler gets depressed (drama!) and Don Cheadle gets all Good Samaritan in “The Upside of Anger” director Mike Binder’s latest, about two college roommates who rekindle a friendship several years after the September 11th attacks. We liked Sandler a bunch in “Punch-Drunk Love” (we keep trying to convince ourselves “Spanglish” never happened…) and love Cheadle in everything, but we’ve yet to find a non-documentary film concerned with 9/11 that we actually liked. We’re hoping Binder’s film uses 9/11 as little more than a dramatic plot device, but we’re not holding our breaths.

Opens wide (official site).

“Shooter”

Though this film may sound more like something Harrison Ford would’ve done fifteen years ago, we’re hoping director Antoine Fuqua can regain the form he displayed in 2001’s tense “Training Day.” Though we certainly love us some Mark Wahlberg ever since he dropped the Funky Bunch, sniper movies have a tendency to just not do it for us (“Enemy at the Gates,” anyone?).

Opens wide (official site).

“TMNT”

Hollywood continues to destroy our collective childhoods with this update of the 90s film/cartoon/comic book series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Though director Kevin Monroe opted to film completely in computer graphics for this franchise reboot, we’ll take the live-action films any day of the week. In the immortal words of Vanilla Ice, “Go ninja go ninja go! Go ninja go ninja go!”
Opens wide (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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