This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.

DID YOU READ

“Radio On” and “The Bridesmaid”

Posted by on

By Michael Atkinson

IFC News

[Photo: “Radio On,” Plexifilm]

Rare is the film that endeavors to, and succeeds at, encapsulating a cultural and generational Zeitgeist — not the “spirit” of movies or fashion or entertainment trends, but of life in the street, in the bars, in the underfurnished bedrooms and in-between meeting places populated by the age’s new grown-ups, caught somewhere between the burning questions of teenage-dom and evasive answers of adulthood. Wong Kar-Wai got famous making these movies in Hong Kong; the legacy of arthouse cinema, from Michelangelo Antonioni to Wim Wenders to Leos Carax and Gus Van Sant, is rich in Zeitgeisty goodness. Christopher Petit’s 1979 debut “Radio On” may be the subgenre’s purest tissue sample, because it freeze-dries England on the dusk of the punk era without seeming to try very hard (and does it at a time when British cinema was all but completely moribund). Supported by a nominal narrative, the movie is really a mood piece, viewing the British landscape with a gimlet eye and finding solace only in postpunk pop singles, which structure the movie much as they structure the day for Petit’s disenchanted contemporaries, and several generations of jaded kids since.

The music, always heard on LPs, cassettes or radio play, is by David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Lene Lovich, Devo, Robert Fripp, Ian Dury, etc.; the philosophically beautiful black and white images were shot by Martin Schafer, longtime behind-the-camera cohort to Wenders, who co-produced the film with the BFI. Schafer’s saturnine compositions may stand as the most gorgeous monochromatic cinematography ever shot in England, and the visions of industrial waste, semi-rural nowheresville, urban disconnectedness and late-capitalist angst state Petit’s position better than any narrative could. As it is, the story hardly tries — a numb and introverted DJ (David Beames) drives in his old coup to Bristol to look into his brother’s mysterious suicide. Of course, he discovers nothing, except England itself along the way, home to lost immigrants, political fugitives (like Proll), hustlers, dispirited laborers and punks with nowhere to go. (As a service-station attendant still mourning the death of Eddie Cochrane, Sting makes his first film appearance.)

What “Radio On” gets at is difficult to articulate — a mournful portrait of national anomie, a trapped-in-amber windshield view of a conflicted, self-esteem-challenged country in economic decline. Petit (who was a 70s film critic for Time Out in the UK) is strictly observational, whether it be via the unforgettably evocative roving-camera intro through the dead brother’s flat, set to Bowie’s “Heroes,” or the infinite variations on road-movie transcendentalism, as private car interiors are contrasted against the stark, inky landscapes through which they travel. Clues to history are honey-dripped throughout (a patch of glimpsed graffiti reads “Free Astrid Proll,” a railroaded member of the Communist splinter group the Baader-Meinhof Gang), but “Radio On” itself is something of a historical marker — no film has ever captured that epochal time and place in more telling detail.

Or there’s Chabrolville, which despite septuagenarian French New Wave stalwart Claude Chabrol’s years remains forever in the present day. Given his doggedly consistent fascination with psychopathic crime intersecting with contemporary bourgeois lives, it’s a surprise to find that his recent film “The Bridesmaid” (2004) is only Chabrol’s second adaptation of one of mystery-doyenne Ruth Rendell’s novels (1995’s “La Ceremonie” was the first). It is, in any case, a psychodrama of typically brisk efficiency and relaxed gallows humor. The semi-functioning family at the center is sketched in — responsible son (with incestuous lurkings) Benoît Magimel, high-spirited single mom Aurore Clément, bickering sisters — before we meet the titular catalyst at a family wedding: Senta (Laura Smet), a sensuous but off-putting seductress with a mysterious past. Magimel is all pro, deciphering life with his eyes as the chump who gets vacuumed in by this odd girl’s impulsive devotions and Nietzschean delusions, but Smet, all eyelashes and butterscotch skin, is the film’s prize; she doesn’t act out the character’s slowly revealed pathologies so much as keep them barely contained behind her mesmerizing stare, like mad dogs in a cage. Chabrol sets us up, of course, which is half the fun, and the experience is a delight for lack of pomposity (his visual storytelling remains no-nonsense) as well as matter-of-fact genre expertise.

“Radio On” (Plexifilm) will be available on DVD on April 3rd; “The Bridesmaid” (First Run Features) is currently available on DVD.

Watch More
IFC_Portlandia-AORewind-blog

A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

Posted by on
GIFs via Giphy

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.

via GIPHY

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.

Watch More
SistersWeekend_103_MPX-1920×1080

WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

Posted by on

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_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend-Series-Image

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.

SistersWeekend_101_MPX-1920x1080

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_Comedy-Crib_Sisters-Weekend_About-Image

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.

SistersWeekend_102_MPX-1920x1080

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

Watch More
IFC_BVSS_203_birthday-song-celebration

Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

Posted by on
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.

via GIPHY

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!

via GIPHY

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.

Watch More