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Opening This Week: June 29th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Evening,” Focus Features, 2007]

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

“Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox”

Documentarian Sara Lamm’s debut feature follows the story of Dr. Emanuel Bronner, a master soapmaker, mental institution escapee and self-proclaimed rabbi who preached an ever-evolving set of teachings set on each bottle of his popular peppermint soap, which you can still find in health food stores today. Lamm’s film follows the story of an incredibly complicated family legacy behind the counterculture’s most popular cleaning product.

Opens in New York (official site).


While this film sounds a little like “Fried Green Tomatoes” meets “The Notebook” (but with more dying!), it may be the ideal movie if you want to escape the usual summer flick explosions. Director Lajos Koltai previously served up some heavy drama with 2005’s “Fateless” and here employs Toni Collette and Natasha Richardson to get all weepy as they play the daughters of dying matriarch Vanessa Redgrave. To further improve its pedigree, we should point out that the film is based on a novel by Susan Minot and is adapted by “The Hours” writer Michael Cunningham.

Opens wide (official site).


Four high school friends get together at a funeral and decide to make the best of it by traversing the local countryside in search of parties, alcohol and men in this black comedy from “Free Radicals” director Barbara Albert. The film premiered at last year’s Venice Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Ghosts of Cité Soleil”

Like a true life “City of God,” Asger Leth’s documentary follows the lives of rival gang leaders in the Haitian slum of Cité Soleil, deemed by the United Nations the most dangerous place on earth. Leth’s documentary (executive produced and with music by Wyclef Jean) was filmed prior to the overthrow of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is said to have employed the gang members to silence his opponents.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“In Between Days”

A lonely and isolated Korean teenage, new to America, falls in love with her only friend in So Yong Kim’s debut film, which finally arrives in theaters after attracting acclaim on the festival circuit.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Live Free or Die Hard”

Considering we’re in the Season of Revisited 80s Action Franchises (Michael Bay’s “Transformers” is being released next month and Stallone’s bloodthirsty “John Rambo” will drop next summer), it’s no surprise that this long-rumored, then long-anticipated fourth entry in the John McClane series finally finds its release this week. With a storyline pretty much lifted from a, well, Bruce Willis thriller, the film finds McClane tackling an internet-based terrorist organization planning on shutting down the country. Car into helicopter = badass. CGI car wrecks = lame. “Deadwood”‘s Sheriff Bullock (Timothy Olyphant) as the baddie = awesome. The Mac Guy (Justin Long) as comic relief = seriously lame.

Opens wide (official site).

“One to Another”

Jean-Marc Barr and Pascal Arnold’s drama follows a 20-year-old brother and sister who share an intimate relationship with each other and a group of friends until the brother is found brutally murdered (with sexy results!). The sister then goes in search of finding out who her brother’s real killer is (with sexy results!). The film premiered at last year’s Toronto Film Festival (with sexy results!).

Opens in New York and San Francisco (official site).


We may be a little bothered by the fact that the Parisian rodent of Pixar’s latest feature doesn’t sound like he’s French, but we’re willing to bite the bullet for anything directed by Brad Bird (“The Incredibles” and “The Iron Giant”). Comedian Patton Oswalt voices Remy, the Parisian rat who dreams of becoming a great chef. The buzz on this seems pretty high — here’s hoping it’s better than “Cars.”

Opens wide (official site).


High five for controversy! Nearly three years after the monumental success that was “Fahrenheit 9/11,” award-winning “documentarian”/essayist Michael Moore returns with a scathing look at the health care system in a nation in which Moore claims nearly 45 million people are left without health care — ours. The usual criticism is already abounding, with conservative political commentator Sean Hannity claiming Moore is “anti-American” and the American government investigating Moore as a communist sympathizer, but reviews since “Sicko”‘s standing ovation at its Cannes premiere have been solid. Red states vs. blue states again? It’s on!

Opens wide (official site).


Director Fredi M. Murer’s latest drama finds a young, gifted boy rebelling against his controlling parents, preferring to neglect his pianist skills in favor of flying lessons from his grandfather, played by Hitler himself, “Downfall”‘s Bruno Ganz.

Opens in limited release (official site).

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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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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.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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