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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: April 23rd, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Jindabyne,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2007]

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

“The Condemned”

Snag the plot from “Battle Royale,” subtract whatever social commentary there was attached and pump the film full of steroids and you have “The Condemned,” the latest from WWE owner Vince McMahon’s fledgling film company. Last fall’s “The Marine” proved to be an enjoyable throwback to the action films of the Reagan era, though… still an awful film. We’re just hoping wrestler Steve Austin delivers a fatal Stone Cold Stunner. That would be bad ass.

Opens wide (official site).

“Diggers”

It’s no doubt that a comedy about clam diggers from Lawn Guy Land can only come from actor/writer Ken Marino, former member of MTV’s “The State.” If you miss this film in theaters, though, don’t worry — it’s getting a DVD release only a few short days later on May 1. The film stars Lauren Ambrose, Paul Rudd, and Ron Eldard and is directed by “A Good Baby”‘s Katherine Dieckmann.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Invisible”

So this film is totally, like, “The Sixth Sense,” but, like, the twist is, we KNOW the guy’s already dead! We were hoping for something better from director (and “Batman Begins” writer) David S. Goyer. “War of the Worlds”‘s Justin Chatwin stars as a high school teenager who, following his death, fails to cross over to the afterlife and must find his killer to help his frustrated mother (Marcia Gay Harden) cope with his death.

Opens wide (official site).

“Jindabyne”

It’s been roughly six years since the release of the Australian thriller “Lantana,” so we’re pleased to see director Ray Lawrence return with another film with roiling depths beneath a troubled surface. Three men on a fishing trip discover the body of a dead girl and wait until they return home to report their findings, shocking their families and scandalizing the community. The film won a slew of awards in Lawrence’s native Australia, so we’re expecting the film to be well-received domestically upon its release. Gabriel Byrne and Laura Linney co-star.

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

“Kickin’ It Old School”

Yes, Jamie Kennedy movies continue to get greenlit. The movie sounds like “13 Going on 30,” except Jamie Kennedy is less charming than Jennifer Garner. A young boy in the mid 1980s suffers a breakdancing accident and lapses into a coma before waking 20 years later looking to revive his breakdancing career.

Opens wide (official site).

“Next”

Nicolas Cage appears to be continuing his streak of subpar films this week with an adaptation of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick’s short story “The Golden Man” that, as with most feature film adaptations of Dick’s writing, bears only slight resemblance to its source material. Cage plays a Las Vegas magician with the ability to see two minutes into the future, drawing the attention of an FBI agent (Julianne Moore) trying to help prevent a future terrorist attack. The thought of Cage wooing film girlfriend Jessica Biel is less than believable, but at least director Lee Tamahori is back to work, hopefully in men’s clothing this time.

Opens wide (official site).

“Poison Friends”

Emmanuel Bourdieu’s drama recounts what happens when a group of college students befriend (and are betrayed) by a pathological liar; left in the wake of their friend’s abandonment, the others must deal with the aftereffects. “Poison Friends” was the opening film at last year’s Cannes International Critics` Week and was an official selection at last year’s New York Film Festival.

Opens in New York (offical site).

“Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace”

The type of film that only exists in indie-land, “Sing Now or Forever Hold Your Peace” (that title!) details what happens when a group of former college a cappella singers reunites to perform at a friend’s wedding fifteen years later. The film comes courtesy of frequent “Mad TV” director Bruce Leddy.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Snow Cake”

We’re glad to see Alan Rickman back in dramatic roles after years as our favorite Hogwarts professor, but we do fear any film’s “I Am Sam” sensibilities. Rickman stars as a grief-stricken man who befriends the autistic mother (Sigourney Weaver) of a woman killed in a fatal car wreck.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Ta Ra Rum Pum”

An Indian American family is heartbroken after the father’s racing career ends in a debilitating accident. In order to make a living, the family moves to a poor inner city neighborhood and the father takes up a new job as a taxi driver, leaving his need for speed behind.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Triad Election”

Picked up two years after 2005’s “Election,” Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To’s follow-up describes what happens when current Triad chairman Lok (Simon Yam) seeks re-election despite competition, while Jimmy (Louis Koo) looks to leave the gang for legitimate business relations on mainland China. To’s film screened out of competition at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, and the director recently was honored as Filmmaker in Focus at the 2007 Rotterdamn Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Wind Chill”

Emily Blunt’s post-“The Devil Wears Prada” career begins with this horror film about a couple of college students who become stranded on a stretch of road with a deadly history. This horror flick comes courtesy of “Criminal” director Gregory Jacob and “Shadow of the Vampire” writer Steven Katz.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Zoo”

What started off as a sensationalist tabloid story slowly turned into an exposé on the nature of sexual taboos and human nature in director Robinson Devor’s documentary on the death of Seattle family man Kenneth Pinyon, who died as a result of injuries he sustained while engaging in sex with a horse. The film premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

Opens in New York (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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