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Opening This Week: August 24th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: Samuel L. Jackson in “Resurrecting the Champ,” Yari Film Group Releasing, 2007]

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

“Closing Escrow”

Three eccentric families hoping to buy a home collide when they each decide they want the same house in this mockumentary by newbie director Armen Kaprelian. The film premiered earlier at the HBO US Comedy Arts Festival in Las Vegas.

Opens in limited release (official site).


Indie fave actor Justin Theroux steps behind the camera in “Dedication,” which goes the Woody Allen route (though perhaps a bit more frantic) in this New York-based romance about a misogynistic children’s book author (an unlikable Billy Crudup, which we totally believe) and an untested illustrator (a highly mascara-ed Mandy Moore) who begin to fall in love shortly after being paired to work together. Theroux’s directorial debut features a soundtrack out of Zach Braff’s wet dreams, including music by Deerhoof, Cat Power, The Stokes and more.

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

“Deep Water”

The producers of 2003’s “Touching the Void” present a documentary that takes a look back to 1968, when a collection of nine men competed in a nautical journey to see who the first would be to circle the globe. The story focuses on one particular competitor, Donald Crowhurst, who eventually would go missing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

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

“Hannah Takes the Stairs”

“LOL” director Joe Swanberg co-wrote his new feature about a recent college graduate (Greta Gerwig) who embarks on relationships with two coworkers (“Mutual Appreciation” director Andrew Bujalski and Kent Osborne) while hoping to keep her friendships intact. The movie was a hit earlier at this year’s South by Southwest Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Illegal Tender”

Violence is the name of the game in this urban thriller from punctuated “Empire” creator Franc. Reyes. A young Latino man (Rick Gonzalez) learns from his mother (Wanda De Jesus) the true nature of his murdered father’s past while on the run from a crime boss’s henchmen. The film was produced by “urban thriller” king John Singleton.

Opens wide (official site).

“Mr. Bean’s Holiday”

We don’t really understand why the original “Mr. Bean” film deserved a sequel, but hey, that’s what late August is for, right? Destined to be forgettable, this sequel finds the beloved Rowan Atkinson character traveling to France when one of his video diaries somehow winds up as a world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Truly a premise only a film school graduate could dream of.

Opens wide (official site).

“Resurrecting the Champ”

Samuel L. Jackson gets all homeless in this new sportsish drama from “The Contender” director Rod Lurie. A young newspaper reporter (Josh Hartnett, who badly needs a hit… er, not of drugs) encounters a homeless man (Jackson) who used to be a renown boxer and who many believed was dead.

Opens wide (official site).

“Right At Your Door”

A dirty bomb goes off in Los Angeles, jamming freeways and spreading a toxic cloud in this indie apocalyptic thriller from Hollywood vet Chris Gorak.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“September Dawn”

Finally, an honest and respectful film about September 11th…1857, that is. A group of settlers en route to California encounter a Mormon sect in Utah and are slaughtered for religious purposes in this fictional take on the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The film finds itself in a storm of controversy on both sides, while we wonder if there’s a role somewhere out there that Jon Voight won’t take.

Opens wide (official site).

“The Hottest State”

Ethan Hawke directs, writes and stars in his latest directorial feature, based on one of his earliest novels about a struggling young actor (Mark Webber) who crisscrosses the country in pursuit of an elusive musician (“Maria Full of Grace”‘s Catalina Sandino Moreno, who really needs to be in more). Early reviews of the film have been somewhat negative, as critics claim Hawke fails to get the best out of his performers, who play characters who are mostly unlikable. Ouch.

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

“The Nanny Diaries”

Poised for a release earlier this spring, this film was pushed back to fall by the Weinstein Company due of Oscar hopes, only to be settled into a late August release because, well, we’re guessing someone actually watched it. Guessing that both Brittany Murphy and Kate Hudson were unavailable, directors Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (of “American Splendor”) settled on Scarlett Johansson to play the college student who goes to work as a nanny for a rich New York family. Main reason to see the film? Laura Linney as the uptight Mrs. X, who we bet steals every scene.

Opens wide (official site).


Jet Li plays baddie while Jason Statham seeks revenge in this no-nonsense (or all-nonsense) action thriller directed by music video vet Philip G. Atwell.

Opens wide (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.


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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