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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: “Be Kind Rewind,” “The Counterfeiters,” more.

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02182008_bekindrewind.jpgBy Neil Pedley

If last week’s avalanche of Valentine’s Day-inspired fare forced you to spend the week alone in your apartment like yours truly — eating ramen noodles in the dark and crying — then take heart. This week is a fresh slate of brand new movies with nary a rom-com in sight.

“Be Kind Rewind”

If a million monkeys sat at a million typewriters for a million years, they might out something like the storyline for this film. When Jerry (Jack Black) unwittingly erases every tape in the video store at which his friend Mike (Mos Def) works, the two decide to recreate the movies themselves with a camcorder in hopes the customers won’t notice. Given that this is the brainchild of writer/director Michel Gondry, the man behind such mindbenders as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “The Science of Sleep,” you get the feeling that this was little more than an excuse for all involved to have a bit of a giggle.

Opens wide.

“Charlie Bartlett”
Charlie Bartlett is a mischievous schemer who’s been kicked out of one private school too many and is banished to – gasp
public high school, where he sets up a bathroom stall counseling
service for the school’s lost and lonely, handing out sage advice in
one hand and pills from his psychiatrist in the other. Anton Yelchin,
last seen in “Alpha Dog,” stars as the titular character in this comedy
aiming to be a Ferris Bueller for the Prozac generation.

Opens wide.

“The Counterfeiters”
Austria’s official entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 2007
Academy Awards, “The Counterfeiters” is a fictionalized dramatization
of Operation Bernhard, a secret Nazi plan to destabilize the allied
economy by flooding England and the U.S with thousands of forged
banknotes. Told in flashback, the film centers on Salomon Sorowitsch, a
master counterfeiter who’s arrested and imprisoned by the Nazis, who
indoctrinate him into working for their cause. In German with subtitles.

Opens in limited release.

“Cover”
Watching the trailer for “Cover,” it’s difficult to shake the notion
that this was a direct-to-video title that was somehow mislabeled and
sent out to a theater. C-list legend Bill Duke, who moonlights as a
go-to goon character actor, steps behind the camera to direct this tale
of marital infidelity and betrayal starring Aunjanue Ellis as a devoted wife implicated in a murder, only to
discover her husband, Dutch (Razaaq Adoti) has been leading a double
life. Louis Gossett Jr. kills some time waiting for “Iron Eagle
V” as the dogged police detective determined to uncover the
truth.
Opens in limited release.

“The Duchess of Langeais”
Set in 19th century Paris at the time of the restoration, this period
drama is brought to us courtesy of 80-year-old director Jacques
Rivette, the man Truffaut credited with birthing the French New Wave
movement. He breathes new life into the Balzac novella about
Antoinette, a married noblewoman who schemes her way into the heart
of the dashing general Montriveau, whom she ultimately drives to
madness. The humiliated general seeks his revenge, only for Antoinette
to realize that her best laid plans may have cost her true love and
more. In French with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Passing Poston”
Documentarians Joe Fox and James Nubile present the stories of four former
internees of the Poston Relocation Center, the largest of ten
Japanese-American internment camps during World
War II. The film’s focus is Ruth Okimoto, a future artist who was
forcibly moved to Poston with her family at the age of six, who journeys
back to the now derelict and abandoned camp, searching for answers as
to how such a thing could be allowed to come to pass.
Opens in New York.

“The Signal”
Told from three different perspectives by three different directors who
apparently had no idea what the others were doing, “The Signal” is
essentially three mini-movies loosely strung together: a thriller, a
black comedy and a romantic mystery, all detailing the fallout of a
mysterious transmission that invades the airwaves and turns ordinary
people into crazed killers. Written and directed by David Bruckner, Dan
Bush and Jacob Gentry, this low-budget indie horror flick made its
debut at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, and a quick scan of the
credits tells you everything you need to know — there are dozens of
people credited with roles like “Screaming Man,” “Deranged People”
and “Random Bodies.”
Opens in limited release

“Vantage Point”
Perhaps the only thing more pervasive than the possible conspiracy in
this intricate and elaborate high-concept thriller is the film’s
trailer, which has seemingly played in front of every movie at the
multiplexes for months. The gist:
Dennis Quaid and Matthew Fox star as a secret service agents charged
with protecting the president (William Hurt) during a terrorism summit
on Spanish soil. When an assassination attempt occurs, the two must
sort through video evidence and piece together the events with, among
others, an American tourist (Forest Whitaker) and a TV news producer
(Sigourney Weaver). Naturally, nothing is what it appears to be. We’re hoping the same is true of the film as a whole, which reminds us
of Brian De Palma’s distinctly arse “Snake Eyes.”

Opens wide.

“Witless Protection”
Suffice to say this looks about as funny as a trip to
the dentist for a root canal. (Hey, now there’s an idea for Larry the
Cable Guy’s next movie…) The Blue Collar Comedy alum
stars as a Mississippi deputy who mistakes a federal witness for a kidnap victim and must dodge corrupt FBI agents and mob guys to usher
her safely to Chicago. This smut-spattered toilet-humor adventure comes complete with support from Eric Roberts, who, it seems, is no longer content with making music video cameos.
Opens wide.

[Photo: “Be Kind Rewind,” ©New Line, 2008]

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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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