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“Southland Tales.”

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"There would be a lot less violence in the world if everyone just did a little more cardio."We’ve still under the weather and are also having terrible trouble writing about "Southland Tales," but don’t want to let it go without mention. So this isn’t going to be very coherent, which many would no doubt deem appropriate.

There seems to be some alchemical disconnect between the movies Richard Kelly has in his head and what actually ends up on screen. We like "Donnie Darko" plenty, but can’t believe that anyone can glean the interpretations Kelly has offered in interviews and on DVD extras from what’s in the film alone. There’s not enough of it there on screen… and anyway, why would you want to? Those supplemental explanations just drag down something that’s better left happily oblique. If Kelly had managed to make clear everything he intended in the film, it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good.

Now, if Mr. Kelly were to stand next to the screen at every showing of "Southland Tales" and offer verbal footnotes, perhaps with backing of the three graphic novels that precede the film and allow it to kick off, "Star Wars" style, on book four, the whole thing would surely unravel, if not elegantly, at least in a way that made some sense. As it stands, though, "Southland Tales" is overstuffed, underexplicated, hubristically ambitious, uneven, bewildering and kind of awesome. We can’t imagine it’s going to please most anyone, and we have to admit our personal susceptibility to the fabulous disaster, but "Southland Tales" has wormed its way in our brain like few other films this year and is, without a doubt, one of our favorites.

The basics are: It’s 2008, Texas has been bombed by terrorists, neocons run rampant in
the upper echelons of the government, the U.S. is buckled down under a
‘roided-up Patriot Act and at war with Iran, Iraq, North Korea and
Syria, the draft has been reinstated, oil is out of the question and Southern California is being
powered by an experimental, laws-of-thermodynamics-defying invention
called Fluid Karma, housed in a massive structure looming off the Santa
Monica shore. This entire scenario is dropped on us in first ten minutes with the help of a animated overview, and from there the story lets forth a dozen tentacles following scattered characters: a famous actor with links to the Republican party and an inconvenient case of amnesia (Dwayne Johnson); a porn star with talk show and franchise ambitions who’s written a screenplay that foretells the coming apocalypse (Sarah Michelle Gellar); a Venice Beach-based radical activist group called the neo-Marxists; a scarred former actor turned soldier turned narrator, drug addict and sniper (Justin Timberlake); and a cop with, possibly, a twin and also, possibly, amnesia (Seann William Scott).

How to explicate "Southland Tales"’ unearthly pull? It comes in part because the casting is all in air quotes — The Rock, Buffy, Stifler, various SNL escapees, Mandy Moore, an almost unrecognizable Kevin Smith and the current king of the pop charts — but the acting is often as earnest as the over-the-top scenarios will allow, particularly Johnson and Timberlake, who manages to make a sequence in which he imagines himself as the star of a music video set in an arcade, lip syncing to the Killers’ "All These Things That I’ve Done," bafflingly resonant. It’s also because the film seems like a hallucination born from years of apocalyptic Los Angeles imagery, the meeting point of "Kiss Me Deadly" and "Blade Runner" (both of which receive nods) and dozens of other tales on celluloid and in print that would have the city constantly on the verge of catastrophe and still soldiering on, cheerfully oblivious to the fact. And its in part because it fearlessly mixes T.S. Eliot references with the cheapest of dumb blond jokes, and because under a front of irony the film has its big sloppy heart out on its sleeve.

So "Southland Tales" is about L.A., it’s about the end of the world, it’s overtly a comedy but also helplessly mournful, it’s a genre mash-up particularly fixated on the ever-rewarding oeuvre of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and it’s, less successfully, a heavy-handed but fervent political satire. It’s also 19 minutes shorter than the version that was so poorly received at Cannes, and you can see the edges of a snipped storyline apparently involving Janeane Garofalo, who appears fleetingly toward the film’s climax. We’d like to see that first cut, but we’d also just like to see the film again. (We’re in the stalwart minority there — though our colleague Matt Singer did allow that he’d see it a second time… in a year.) Certainly it’s valiantly, foolhardily its own film, and it’s sure as hell like nothing else you’ll find in theaters, and that, we’d hope, would be recommendation enough.

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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.


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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