This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


“Regular Lovers,” “Sansho the Bailiff”

Posted by on

By Michael Atkinson

IFC News

[Photo: “Regular Lovers,” Zeitgeist Films, 2007]

As much as I would’ve liked to have been, I wasn’t in Paris in May of 1968, when the student strikes broke out and burned all the more brightly the more they were suppressed by police violence, when labor unions joined in and virtually shut the country down, and when Molotov cocktail revolt filled the middle-class streets in a heretofore unprecedented Zeitgeist of resistance to the exploitations of state power. But it’s been such a lavishly, lovingly depicted cultural moment in movies that sometimes I feel as if I had indeed been there, manning the barricades. (Call it, in retrospect, the Woodstock of France.) Still, May ’68 awaited its definitive film portrait until the arrival of Philippe Garrel’s “Regular Lovers” in 2005. (It opened here in January.) The movie is in fact more of an impressionistic personal meditation on the place and time than an outright historical film. But the feeling of the era, the cataclysmic, romantic, liberating and finally tragically disillusioned emotional thrust of resistance, coupled with the electric sense of being 19, sexually alive, responsibility free and ready to dope up and drop out — all of it seeps out of this neglected three-hour epic like fragrance from a valley of lilacs.

Garrel, of course, had been there — having begun as a young experimental filmmaker in the ’60s, he rode shotgun along with the New Wavers (literally, in 1968 at the age of 19, shooting scenes in the streets with Godard), never attaining their international profiles but consistently producing challenging, eccentric work at home. (“Regular Lovers” is, as far as I can ascertain, his first film to be distributed in the U.S.) “Regular Lovers” has the burning conviction of firsthand experience, and it’s hardly a coincidence that Garrel cast his own son, Louis, as his laconic, lovelorn protagonist. Garrel fils was also the co-star of Bernardo Bertolucci’s silly May ’68 valentine “The Dreamers” two years earlier — and given Garrel père‘s history of prickly recalcitrance, it’s possible that Bertolucci getting so much wrong in his film largely inspired Garrel to get it right.

The film meanders in the young Garrel’s shadow as he wanders through a demimonde of wealthy college kids and, soon enough, the Night of the Barricades, filmed in inky black-and-white by master D.P. William Lubtchansky in a nearly hour-long idyll, as if the revolution was caught in suspended animation. From there, the film evokes the post-revolutionary hangover, as Garrel’s François begins a wary romance with Lilie (the radiantly ordinary Clothilde Hesme); together, they are born icons of post-adolescent cool, but just as insurrectionary fervor wanes under the glare of the workaday sun, so does their love. It’s a heartbreaking film, but not because it tells you so. Like the best of the French going back to Renoir, the filmmaker locates three-dimensional pathos and beauty in simple images, acts and gestures, captured honestly and without bullshit: a dance party, getting high in a rich family’s apartment, wandering through the strangely empty morning streets as if the couple were the survivors of a holocaust. An ambitious, grown-up, old-school art film, “Regular Lovers” (such a humdrum title) may be so far the best film of 2007.

Then there’s real old school: Kenji Mizoguchi’s “Sansho the Bailiff” (1954), a must-have, must-see film culture classic that, up to now, had only been available in godawful public domain video copies and war-trodden 16mm prints. If that’s how you’ve seen it — and not, perchance, in the 2005 retro that roamed the country’s retro screens — then you haven’t seen it at all. The new Criterion edition is jewel-like and breathtaking, which simply makes the classic fable — in warlord-run medieval Japan, a railroaded governor’s wife and children are waylaid on a journey and sold into slavery — all the more devastating. No other film so carefully interrogates how tragic injustice plays out over years of life. (It’s not a film you should sit down to lightly; keep hankies, oxygen and ice water close at hand.) Mizoguchi, semi-forgotten today and the peer to Ozu if not the superior to Kurosawa as well, is hopefully on his way to being reinstituted as a cultural giant worldwide. Of course, the DVD package is fiercely reverent, buttressed with new interviews, scholarly exegesis, a new essay of things Mizoguchian and two versions of the original narrative: the 1915 short story by author Ogai Mori, and a transcribed version of an earlier version, from when it was merely an oral folktale. All told, it’s justice done.

“Regular Lovers” (Zeitgeist) and “Sansho the Bailiff” (Criterion) will be available on DVD May 22nd.

Watch More

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.


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

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: 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

Watch More

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.


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.

Watch More