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Planet Terror.It has to be said that no film could be as fun as the promise of "Grindhouse," with its double-feature assurances of being packed to the rotting rafters with every every sticky shameless cinematic pleasure — 191 minutes of thoughtless, tasteless filmic bliss. "Grindhouse" is mightily enjoyable, but it’s never quite delivers the gluttonous gratification we’d guess directors Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino, who slap each other heartily on the back throughout, felt while making the film. Also, aside from the priceless faux trailers tucked in between the two halves — Rob Zombie‘s "Werewolf Women of the S.S." has a brilliant non sequitur of an appearance by Nicolas Cage as "Fu Manchu," and a deadpan ad for the Acuña Boys Restaurant "right next door to the theater" parades a gloriously unappetizing array of khaki-colored food — the film never wholeheartedly commits to aping the exploitations films the boy-king pair have been claiming as context, which we’re not sure is a complaint.

Rodriguez’s smearily over-the-top "Planet Terror" looks like a grindhouse film — the stock is scratched, discolored and warped, it curls at the edges, and at one point burns out, leaving behind a solemn apology from the management about the missing reel (a tic echoed in Taratino’s installment). It was all lovingly added in post-production — "Planet Terror" was shot on digital and is, beneath the appended grit, a slick bit of exorbitance. The film is less a narrative than a frantic mash-up of exploitation tropes: zombies; lesbian affairs; an ominous, amputation-happy hospital; things exploding into balls of flame for absolutely no reason; renegade scientists; tattooed men with mysterious pasts; monstrous soldiers; ludicrous dialogue (and endless amputee jokes); melting genitals; Texas barbecue — you’ll find them all in "Planet Terror." Rose McGowan leads as Cherry Darling, a discontented go-go dancer who weeps as she shimmies to Rodriguez’s woozy theme music, until she’s reunited with her former flame (a surprisingly charismatic Freddy Rodríguez), separated from her leg by zombies, and given a machine gun with which to replace it.

The film wobbles between a genuine embrace of its own trashiness and a smug acknowledgment of its own camp qualities, which is an irritant — overt, calculated kitsch seems like cheating, or at least undermining what we’d imagine to be "Grindhouse"’s mission statement. "Planet Terror"’s aggressive pursuit of new kickassery is a good time that’s quick to fade from mind, though the soon-to-be-iconic image of a bandeau-topped McGowan gimping along on her high caliber artificial limb doesn’t. Neither does the winkingly clumsy (which, in this context, works) attempt to tie the film’s action to the war in Iraq, which ultimately finds Freddy Rodríguez, biting back tears, barking "God bless you for your service to this country" before blowing Bruce Willis‘ head off. Hilarious!

Taratino’s "Death Proof" is a trickier beast, a clever and sleekly shot semi-thriller that’s a grindhouse film in form. The tone is uneven, the pacing languid, the structure completely ridiculous — the film meanders with one set of characters for at least half the runtime, setting up plot threads that go nowhere and hinting at backstories, only to then kill most of those people off in a burst of impressive violence and start over with a new set. All of which is, actually, dead on, though "Death Proof" turns out to be foremost a love letter from Tarantino to himself. The film’s wandering focus never passes up characters talking about nothing in particular, whether that nothing be old TV shows, 60s UK pop groups or Tarantino in-jokes. This far into his career, it’s impossible not to hear him, the auteur-cum-ventriloquist, behind every character, especially with concoctions like Sydney Tamiia Poitier‘s alpha Amazon Julia, who smokes weed like a fiend and tosses out idle references to "Cannonball Run" and Zatoichi without any doubt that those around her will know exactly what she’s talking about. Still, there’s an unhurried quality to the conversations that oh-so-good — Kurt Russell, better than he’s been in a long time as baddie Stuntman Mike, notably seems to savor his every line before spitting it out. In the latter chunk of the film, the action’s allowed to grind to a total halt as the camera circles the film’s second group of girls, gathered around a diner table chatting about "Vanishing Point" for. Fucking. Ever. It’s so indulgent that you suspect Tarantino of trying to insert himself into the B-movie history he dwells over — here’s a bit of slasher/stalker flick, here’s some tough girl revenge story, and here’s a slab of vintage Tarantino, inheritor of the entire kingdom.

We could care less about where Tarantino would put himself in the canon, but we can’t deny his virtuosity, and for every annoying departure and moment of celluloid navel-gazing, there’s are a dozen shots of such unfettered élan — the head-bobbing sequence leading up to a crash, say, or a drowsy jukebox dance, or the lengthy car chase that we know was done without the help of CGI because a character all but turned to the camera and told us so.

Wait — maybe he actually did.

"Grindhouse" opens wide on April 6th.

+ "Grindhouse" (Weinstein Company)

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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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