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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: February 1st, 2008

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Shrooms,” Magnolia Pictures, 2008]

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

“Caramel”

Actress Nadine Labaki’s first feature film sounds like an Lebanese version of “Beauty Shop” mixed with a contemporary “Chocolat.” This Beirut-set romantic comedy tells the trials and tribulations of the personal lives of five women who meet regularly in a beauty salon run by the hardworking Layale (Labaki). Not only was Labaki’s debut film well-received during its run on the festival circuit, it also served as Lebanon’s official entry for the 2008 Academy Awards. Not bad for a first time director.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Eye”

Based on the 2002 Hong Kong film of the same name from horror maestros the Pang brothers, this remake is notable for being one of the first films left up in the air after the Tom Cruise/Sumner Redstone split at Paramount Pictures in late 2006. Lionsgate picked up the project and traded in original star Renée Zellweger and director Hideo Nakata for Jessica Alba and co-directors David Moreau and Xavier Palud. The film tells the story of a young woman (Alba) who begins seeing supernatural beings (we call them ghosts) after an eye transplant. In the wake of a rough 2007 that had her starring in two of the year’s worst movies (“Good Luck Chuck” and “Awake”… ewww), Alba starts the new year strong with her first lead role since 2003’s “Honey,” even if it is in a genre we stopped caring about four years ago. Indie darling alert: Parker Posey in credited supporting role!

Opens wide (official site).

“Hannah Montana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert Tour”

Unable to afford those $1000+ tickets for your tween son/daughter? Might as well take them to your closest Cineplex, as Disney is offering a limited edition 3-D concert film of the 2007 Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus tour. Just to be sure, this is the one where those high school kids break out into song, right? No? Man, we’re old.

Opens wide (official site).

“Over Her Dead Body”

The spirit of a deceased bride-to-be (Eva Longoria Parker) attempts to sabotage her former boyfriend’s (Paul Rudd) current relationship with a psychic (Lake Bell) from beyond the grave, making her the bitchiest ghost we’ve seen in quite some time. The film comes courtesy of “John Tucker Must Die” screenwriter Jeff Lowell, who makes a directorial debut that looks to be lacking the romanticism of “Ghost” and the comedy of … well, anything else. We’re calling it right now: “Over Her Dead Body” is 2008’s “Because I Said So.”

Opens wide (official site).

“Praying with Lior”

Ilana Trachtman’s directorial debut finds the documentarian investigating the case of Lior Liebling, a young boy with Down syndrome who many around him believe to be close to God. The film explores Lior’s relationship with his family, his community and his faith as the boy prepares for his bar mitzvah.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Shrooms”

Harvesting nearly every cliché in the horror film handbook, director Paddy Breathnach (2001’s “Blow Dry”) goes the low-budget horror route in this film about five American travelers on a quest for psychedelic mushrooms in the Irish backwoods who are stalked by a serial killer. The film premiered at last year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“The Silence Before Bach”

Pere Portabella, the 78-year-old Spanish surrealist, delivers another experimental film blending drama and documentary, as well as past and present, with this take on the work of composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The film will be playing at the Film Forum in New York City through February 12th.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Strange Wilderness”

The latest from Adam Sander’s Happy Madison Productions finds actor-turned-director Fred Wolf helming this nature comedy that Sandler probably would’ve starred in himself a decade ago. With the ratings of their wildlife TV show in the toilet, two animal enthusiasts (Steve Zahn and Allen Covert) head to the Andes mountains in pursuit of Bigfoot. Leading an ensemble cast of comedic supporting actors (Justin Long, Jonah Hill, Ernest Borgnine!?), Wolf’s debut feature may be the perfect distraction for the cinemagoers sick of serious Oscar fare and heavy drama. Or it could be crap. Who can tell?

Opens wide (official site).

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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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