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Opening This Week: December 14th, 2007

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Nanking,” THINKFilm, 2007]

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

“Alvin and the Chipmunks”

Here we have yet another major motion picture studio’s attempt to destroy our collective childhoods with this cinematic update of the classic 1980s children television series it’s likely we all hated anyway. What looks to be a celluloid crime against parents and hipster doofuses everywhere comes courtesy of Tim Hill, director of the sequel “Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties.” “My Name is Earl”‘s Jason Lee gets enlisted as the human Dave who watches over the mischievous musical chipmunk trio, who if the trailer is to be believed, like to eat their own feces.

Opens wide (official site).

“Goodbye Bafana”

Danish director Bille August helms this true story about an white South African prison guard (Joseph Fiennes) whose life was profoundly changed by a black inmate he guarded for 20 years whose name was (wait for it) Nelson Mandela (Dennis Haysbert). The film was awarded the Peace Film Award at this year’s Berlin International Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Half Moon”
Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi wrote and directed his latest drama about an old musician’s plans to give one final concert in Iraqi Kurdistan. The film won a bevy of awards at the 2006 San Sebastian International Film Festival, including a prize for best cinematography and the Golden Seashell Award for best film.

Opens in New York (official site).

“I Am Legend”

While we’d line up to watch Will Smith beat the crap out of anything — this latest film finds the Fresh Prince kicking both vampire AND zombie ass! — we’re not so crazy about the direction of Francis Lawrence, whose previous credits include the ho-hum Keanu Reeves vehicle “Constantine” and a host of Jennifer Lopez music videos. Regardless of whether the film is any good, however, it’s safe to expect any Will Smith actioner to dominate the holiday box office. Smith stars as Robert Neville, a man who finds himself to be the lone survivor of a biological attack that leaves New York with a swarm of zombies during the day and vampires at night. “I Am Legend” is the third adaptation of Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel, following 1964’s “The Last Man on Earth” and the 1971 Charlton Heston sci-fi flick “The Omega Man,” and is the first to use Matheson’s original title.

Opens wide (official site).

“The Kite Runner”

Khaled Hosseini’s wildly popular 2003 novel finally hits theaters courtesy of “Finding Neverland” director Marc Forster. The film follows Amir, an Afghani who returns to his homeland after spending two decades in the United States following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to investigate the disappearance of his childhood friend Hassan. Kudos to the filmmakers for sticking with mostly local Afghani actors, though the studio is now in a bit of a PR mess after threats made to three of the child actors forced a delay in the film’s release. Regardless, we expect the film’s Afghani flavor meshed with Forster’s gentle direction to at least be better than a bloated lecture from a ham-fisted Tom Cruise.

Opens in limited release (official site).


“Detroit Rock City” writer/director Adam Rifkin helms this drama pieced together from surveillance cameras, creating the illusion that no matter where you are in the United States, you’re being watched. The film premiered earlier this year at the CineVegas International Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Award.

Opens in limited release (official site).


Bill Guttentag and Dan Sturman’s documentary tells the story of The Rape of Nanking, the tragedy that occurred during the 1937-1938 Japanese occupation and resulted in the deaths of 200,000 Chinese men and women and the rape of tens of thousands more before a small group of Westerners formed a safety refuge to save the lives of 250,000. The film won the Documentary Film Editing Award earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“The Perfect Holiday”

All a young girl wants for Christmas is a new husband for her harried mother (Gabrielle Union) in this holiday comedy from director Lance Rivera. Rivera is best known for 2004’s “The Cookout,” though we barely remember it.

Opens wide (official site).

“Youth Without Youth”

Francis Ford Coppola’s long anticipated return to filmmaking finds the “Godfather” director returning to his film school roots… sort of. Coppola’s latest is a deeply personal adaptation of a Mircea Eliade novel about a professor (Tim Roth) who’s targeted by Nazi agents after he presumably discovers a formula for immortality in World War II-era Europe. Now if only Coppola could start working on the long-rumored “Megalopolis”…

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

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Give Back

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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