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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: January 25th, 2008

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By Christopher Bonet

IFC News

[Photo: “Alice’s House,” FiGa Films, 2008]

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

“4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days”

Writer/director Cristian Mungiu burst onto the international film scene with this abortion drama set in Communist-era Romania that was the surprise Palme d’Or winner at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. The film was recently nominated for the Best Foreign Language Golden Globe yet was suspiciously left off (along with “Persepolis”) the Oscar shortlist — a great injustice to two of the best foreign films of last year.

Opens in New York (official site).

“The Air I Breathe”

Though newbie director Jieho Lee recruited a somewhat awesome cast (Julie Delpy AND Forrest Whitaker!?) for his debut feature, the film’s Chinese proverb-as-metaphor premise gets a little too melodramatic for us. The film, which premiered at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival, breaks life down into the four emotional cornerstones of life based on a traditional Chinese adage, with each vignette built around a character who embodies one of these emotions.

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

“Alice’s House”

Brazilian actress Carla Ribas stars as a married mother of three, living in a working class Sao Paolo neighborhood, who discovers a series of familial betrayals after partaking in a betrayal of her own. The film comes courtesy of documentary filmmaker Chico Teixeira and won the International Film Plaque at the 2007 Chicago International Film Festival.

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

“How She Move”

While we realize that we’ve seen this same movie over and over again the past few years (see: “Stomp the Yard, ” “Step Up, ” “Save the Last Dance”), there’s something charming about this low-budget Canadian film about a young student who must move back to her old neighborhood from private school and rediscovers her love for step dancing. Newcomer Rufina Wesley shines as the young woman who fights to join an all-male dance troupe, drawing comparisons to Michelle Rodriguez way back when “Girlfight” came out.

Opens wide (official site).

“Lost in Beijing”

Director Yu Li’s latest drama focuses on class differences and the aftermath of a rape involving a young woman, her boss, her husband, and her husband’s wife in contemporary Beijing. The film premiered early last year at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“Meet the Spartans”

…ugh. Seriously, this might as well just be titled “2007: The Movie. ” Spoofing pretty much every pop cultural event from the past year, from Britney Spears’ latest meltdowns to the hit summer movies you already forgot about, co-directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer (whose movies, by the way, boast an impressive 2.5 rating average on IMDB) drop their latest comedic abomination spoofing “300” with some Paris Hilton thrown in for good measure. Yeah, we really can’t wait until the next “Genre Movie.”

Opens wide (official site).

“Rambo”

Oh Sly, we missed you so. After scoring critical and some moderate commercial success with 2006’s “Rocky Balboa, ” Stallone returns to the cinema refreshed and renewed at the ripe age of 60. “Rambo” finds our much beleaguered Vietnam vet antihero leading a group of mercenaries in Thailand to help rescue a group of aid workers that have gone missing. An original cut of the trailer hit the interwebz last year promising the kind of massive explosions and ultra-violence we normally expect from the “Rambo” franchise.

Opens wide (official site).

“Trailer Park Boys: The Movie”

Criminal dimwits Ricky, Julian and Bubbles plot to steal massive amounts of pocket change in this comedy based on the Canadian cult favorite TV series “Trailer Park Boys.”

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

“Tropa de Elite (Elite Squad)”

From “Bus 174” director José Padilha, “Tropa de Elite” is the story of two childhood friends who join the military police in Rio de Janeiro, only to discover widespread corruption and inefficient bureaucracy within the department until a retiring captain seeks the duo out to clean things up. Shortly after its release in Brazil in October 2007, it became one of the country’s most popular films ever.

Opens in limited release (IMDB Page).

“Untraceable”

We’re not sure what to make of director Gregory Hoblit’s latest thriller, which finds Diane Lane as a detective fighting the war against cyber crimes (much like “Dateline”‘s Chris Hanson, we suppose). Lane investigates a new internet predator who broadcasts a series of grisly murders on his website, with the fate of each of his tormentors left in the hands of the public. Comparisons to both “The Net” and “feardotcom” don’t really inspire to much confidence either, but Hoblit surprised us with last year’s “Fracture” and with Lane attached, we’re willing to give this one a chance, though we’re not expecting much.

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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