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Opening This Week: October 1, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Trade,” Roadside Attractions, 2007]

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


Much has changed in the ten years since director Gregory Nava helmed “Selena,” the biopic about the late Latin music star that shot Jennifer Lopez to fame. Lopez went on to become a musical sensation, selling millions of CDs while working on award-winning films with directors like Steven Soderbergh, Oliver Stone and Martin Brest (a Razzie is still an award). Nava has kept a low-key profile, working on the Frankie Lyman biopic “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and producing the PBS series “American Family.” This re-pairing of the two finds Lopez playing a journalist investigating a series of murders on the border of Juarez and El Paso — the film met with an infamously bad reception when in premiered at Berlin this year.

Opens in Dallas and El Paso (official site).

“The Darjeeling Limited”

Owen Wilson’s recent troubles saddened us, but there’s no better opportunity for a rebound than a starring role in frequent collaborator Wes Anderson’s latest — even if the part contains some uncomfortable real-life echoes. Wilson plays a man who hopes to reconnect with his two younger brothers (Jason Schwartzman and Anderson newcomer Adrien Brody) by taking them on a train trip across India. Jeer of the year goes to Fox Searchlight for cutting the 13-minute accompanying short “Hotel Chevalier,” which gives background on Schwartzman’s character and features a nude Natalie Portman: Boo!

Opens in New York (official site).

“Feast of Love”

Director Robert Benton, best known for helming the Oscar-winning “Kramer vs. Kramer,” hasn’t really directed anything that’s peaked our interest since the 1994 drama “Nobody’s Fool,” but if there’s one thing Benton is most known for, it’s getting strong performances out of his actors — the man’s directed eight different actors to Oscar-nominated performances. We’d be a little surprised if Benton’s latest gets any Oscar love, as this ensemble piece concerning the love lives of a small community in Oregon sounds a bit overdone, “Big Chill” style.

Opens wide (official site).

“The Game Plan”

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson attempted to shed his action star status with last year’s well-received football film “Gridiron Gang,” and this year the People’s Champion looks to tackle (sorry) the kid-friendly crowd with his family film “The Game Plan.” The Rock plays an NFL quarterback whose bachelor lifestyle gets turned upside down with the arrival of the seven-year-old daughter he never knew he had. Hey, it worked for Vin Diesel, sort of.

Opens wide (official site).

“I’ll Believe You”

Director Paul Francis Sullivan, who worked previously as a field producer for “The Daily Show,” makes his feature debut with this film about a late-night radio host who receives a panicked phone call in an indecipherable language and enlists the help of his friends to uncover the true identity of the first-time caller after the FBI gets involved. David Alan Basche, best known for “United 93” and last seen playing the Crab on “30 Rock,” stars alongside supporting actors Patrick Warburton, Fred Willard and Ed Helms.

Opens in limited release (IMDB Page).

“The Kingdom”

Before we become inundated with end of year “serious” movies featuring important stories about American influence in the Middle East, government conspiracies and Tom Cruise pretending to be a senator who watches too much Fox News, we have what looks to be a solid thriller courtesy of “Friday Night Lights” director Peter Berg and new screenwriter Matthew Michael Carnahan, about an FBI team sent to Saudi Arabia to investigate the bombing of American citizens living on Middle Eastern soil. We’re (truly!) glad to hear that Berg cut down on the politics and focuses more on the action — the film’s like a history lesson followed by a monster truck rally. Now that’s a rollicking good time.

Opens wide (official site).

“Lust, Caution”

Ang Lee’s hot and steamy follow-up to his Oscar-winner “Brokeback Mountain” has drawn some serious buzz ever since the project’s original inception — this Shanghai-set period piece has everyone from the MPAA to Chinese government officials all stuffed up. The film tells the story of a young woman (newcomer Tang Wei) who gets swept up in a dangerous game of emotional intrigue with a powerful political figure (Tony Leung, who just oozes sexuality). The film is to be released in the US with a dreaded NC-17 rating, while Chinese censors are cutting nearly 30 minutes for release in Lee’s native homeland. The film also recently won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, which should reassure you that this ain’t no “Showgirls.”

Opens in limited release (official site).


Director John Jeffcoat helms this indie comedy about an American novelty products salesman (Josh Hamilton) who must relocate to India to train his replacement after his entire department is outsourced. The film won the Golden Space Needle Award at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Price of Sugar”

Paul Newman narrates this Bill Haney-directed documentary about the efforts of a Catholic priest advocating for thousands of Haitian workers employed by the sugar trade. The film premiered earlier this year at South by Southwest, where it went on to win an audience award.

Opens in limited release (official site).


A Polish woman, a Texas cop, a young Mexican man come together when a girl is kidnapped and sold into slavery by sex traffickers. “Summer Storm” director Marco Kreuzpaintner collaborates with “The Motorcycle Diaries” screenwriter Jose Rivera on this adaptation of a 2004 New York Times Magazine article by Peter Landesman. The film premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

Opens in New York and Los Angeles (

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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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