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Critic wrangle: “Lions for Lambs.”

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"Never have I seen such lions led by such lambs."
There seems to be something admirable about how pugilisticly didactic Robert Redford’s "Lions for Lambs" is, with its spoonful of high-octane star Splenda to make the liberal guilt go down. And the film does have its unanticipated fans: Stephanie Zacharek at Salon acknowledges that it’s "self-righteous, didactic, dramatically and visually static and, in places, extremely boring," yet also finds it works:

Redford and [screenwriter Michael Matthew] Carnahan clearly intend it as a call to arms, which explains why the movie sometimes feels like a civics lesson, albeit one given by a moderately entertaining instructor. Still — like a good civics lesson — the picture adamantly spins out questions rather than answers.

Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman writes that "Lions for Lambs is so square it’s like something out of the gray twilight glow of the golden age of television…Yet Carnahan’s writing ignites familiar issues with vigor and snap; there’s audacity in its attempt to seize us with nothing but a war of rhetoric." Ella Taylor at the LA Weekly allows that "The movie is awful — and also oddly touching, even
adorable in its dogged sense of responsibility, its stubborn refusal of
style." "Robert Redford’s Lions for Lambs is the clunkiest, windiest, and roughest of the [new antiwar pictures]," writes David Edelstein at New York. "Most of it is dead on the screen. But its earnestness is so naked that it exerts a strange pull. You have to admire a director who works so diligently to help us rise above all the bad karma."

And surprise defender Armond White at the New York Press declares that "As you think along with the film’s presentation of ideas and watch characters caught in moments of moral and political tension, Lions for Lambs starts to articulate the stress of this political era." "Cruise, Streep and Redford do what movie star-artists are supposed to do," he adds. (No "smug"? No "condescending"?)

Elsewhere, a lukewarm Roger Ebert sighs "Useful new things to be said about the debacle in Iraq are in very short supply. I’m not sure that’s what ‘Lions for Lambs’ intends to demonstrate, but it does, exhaustingly." Adds Anthony Lane at the New Yorker, "It winces with liberal self-chastisement: Redford is surely smart enough to realize, as the professor turns his ire on those who merely chatter while Rome burns, that his movie is itself no better, or more morally effective, than high-concept Hollywood fiddling." Manohla Dargis at the New York Times writes that the film "tells us everything most of us know already, including the fact that politicians lie, journalists fail and youth flounders."

"For the life of me, I can’t figure out what the point of all this onscreen palaver is supposed to be," writes Andrew Sarris at the New York Observer. "Of course, we should all be better human beings. So what else is new? And is a time-coded movie talkfest the best way to persuade us?" Dana Stevens at Slate suggests that "Lions for Lambs appears to have been created by someone who’s never seen one of these newfangled contraptions called ‘movies,’ or for that matter, witnessed that phenomenon known as ‘speech.’" Slant‘s Nick Schager adds that "it runs a brisk 88 minutes in large part because it doggedly, frustratingly refuses to truly delve into the issues it brings up, mistaking newspaper headline-based speeches full of tired talking points for thrilling, incisive debate." And we’ll give the last word to Nathan Rabin at the Onion AV Club, who concludes that "All talk and zero characterization, it doesn’t even feel like a real movie. Just because a film’s premise is ripped from the headlines doesn’t mean it needs to feel like an op-ed piece."

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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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