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DID YOU READ

Drinking the milkshake.

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"There are times when I I look at people and I see nothing worth liking."
Now that it’s opening in wider release, we wanted to take a look at the year’s more difficult most accoladed film, or, specifically, its conclusion. When we were watching "There Will Be Blood," we couldn’t keep our mind off how we’d write about it — something we’ve yet to be able to do — because it’s so rich and deranged and resistant to distillation into text. There have been plenty of excellent points made about the film, but nothing yet that’s quite encapsulated our own feelings toward it. The ending, which is either ridiculous or brilliant, but certainly crazy, is an easy point of focus — even those who loved the film are divided — so here’s a look at the range of critical opinion on it:

David Edelstein, New York:
There is blood, and when it comes it’s shocking and
absurd—more grotesque than the end of Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time
in America, in which the corrupted businessman ends up squashed in the
back of a garbage truck. It’s Punch-and-Judy time in a private bowling
alley, an ignominious finish to an age-old struggle.

Reportedly, some preview audiences laughed derisively at the ending.
I was agog. The movie doesn’t need a somber finale—it needs something
go-for-broke batshit crazy as a counterpoint to the early, mythic
images of tall, gushing wells.

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times:
It has scenes of terror and poignancy, scenes of ruthless chicanery,
scenes awesome for their scope, moments echoing with whispers and an
ending that in some peculiar way this material demands, because it
could not conclude on an appropriate note — there has been nothing
appropriate about it. Those who hate the ending, and there may be many,
might be asked to dictate a different one. Something bittersweet,
perhaps? Grandly tragic? Only madness can supply a termination for this
story.

J. Hoberman, Village Voice:
Revelations
overturn the narrative: The last 20 minutes are as shocking in their
way as the plague that rains from the sky in Magnolia’s finale. By the
time the closing words "There Will Be Blood" appear (with a burst of
Brahms) inscribed in heavy gothic letters on the screen, Anderson’s
movie has come to seem an Old Testament story of cosmic comeuppance and
filicidal madness—American history glimpsed through the smoke and fire
that the lightning left behind.

Richard Schickel, Time:
It is the genius (and I use that word advisedly) of Daniel Day-Lewis’s
performance to slowly, patiently, show the madness replacing his former
rationalism, to prepare us for the film’s astonishing ending, an ending
one dare not reveal, but that contains what I — resistant as I am to
superlatives — consider to be the most explosive and unforgettable 10
or 15 minutes of screen acting I have ever witnessed.

Scott Foundas, LA Weekly:
As for those who have claimed that the film goes “over the top” in its
final act, set in 1927, it strikes me that the film ends in the way
that it must. Like most stories of kingly men who have vanquished all
challengers to the throne, it culminates in madness.

David Denby, New Yorker:
The
movie becomes an increasingly violent (and comical) struggle in which
each man humiliates the other, leading to the murderous final scene,
which gushes as far over the top as one of Daniel’s wells. The scene is
a mistake, but I think I know why it happened. Anderson started out as
an independent filmmaker, with “Hard Eight” (1996) and “Boogie Nights”
(1997). In “Blood,” he has taken on central American themes and
established a style of prodigious grandeur. Yet some part of him must
have rebelled against canonization. The last scene is a blast of
defiance—or perhaps of despair. But, like almost everything else in the
movie, it’s astonishing.

Dana Stevens, Slate:
The story
is anchored by two mirror-image scenes of humiliation—Plainview’s takes
place in the church, Eli’s in a bowling alley—that are simultaneously
harrowing and hilarious. But the bowling-alley showdown, which is also
the last scene of the movie, feels like the director’s one misstep.
It’s so broad, so shamelessly over-the-top, that the movie shifts from
stark Oedipal drama to something like Grand Guignol. On a second
viewing, the ending still bothered me, but a friend made a passionate
case for it over drinks afterward. If nothing else, it’s a choice that
will inspire great conversations.

Stephanie Zacharek, Salon:
That scene has so much dignity that it dwarfs the flashier scenes —
particularly the overplayed, near-screwball ending — that come later.

Armond White, New York Press:
The shabby set-up of Plainview and Eli’s ultimate confrontation in a
bowling alley is so confusing and slapdash that their symbolic
clash—where one forces the other to confess his shallowness and deny
his beliefs—comes across as just secular-progressive prejudice and
loopy, unconvincing drama.

Matt Zoller Seitz, The House Next Door:
"There Will Be Blood" is four-fifths of a near-masterpiece, but that
final section in Daniel’s mansion devolves into a guided tour of
Anderson’s DVD collection. Look: "Giant"! Over there: "The Shining"!
Watch out, "Citizen Kane" coming through! And the climactic tete-a-tete
evokes the worst of "Magnolia" — the Oscar clip shouting and weeping
and fighting, the graduate theater workshop blocking… Daniel Day
Lewis’ highly stylized performance is exquisitely modulated up until
that final stretch, at which point it turns into a cross between John
Huston’s Noah Cross and Popeye the Sailor Man.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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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 IFC.com and the IFC app.

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