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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: February 8th, 2008

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By Christopher Bonet

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

“A Walk to Beautiful”
Documentarians Mary Olive Smith and Amy Bucher’s first collaborative feature documentary tells the story of five Ethiopian women exiled from their communities after complications during childbirth. As each of these women search out a special hospital in Addis Ababa in order to find a home where they won’t be persecuted for the first time in years, Smith and Bucher’s camera captures their attempts to rebuild their lives. The film premiered at the 2007 San Francisco Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“The Band’s Visit”
Israeli director Erin Kolirin’s debut feature finds a few of Egypt’s finest traveling to Israel to play at the inaugural ceremony of an Arab Culture Center… except they head to the wrong town. The comedy/drama premiered last year at the Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Un Certain Regard Jury award.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Fool’s Gold”
Matthew McConaughey may have fallen a little out of favor in the leading man department after the colossal failure that was 2005’s “Sahara” (and “Two for the Money” and “Failure to Launch” and… well, you get the idea). But the actor’s latest marks first reunion opposite Kate Hudson since their wildly successful rom-com “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” in 2003. McConaughey plays a treasure hunter whose relationship with his estranged wife (Hudson) is reignited after he discovers the real key to her heart: Spanish gold. Romance!

Opens wide (official site).

“The Hottie & the Nottie”
We’re surprised this indie comedy has neither a National Lampoon’s or direct-to-DVD stamp attached to it. Paris Hilton is the “Hottie” in this comedy that finds the infamous socialite the object of affection of Nate (Joel David Moore), a loser who hopes to woo his childhood love once he figures out what to do with her less-than-attractive best friend. “The Hottie and the Nottie” may have the worst poster of the year to date, questionably pitting Hilton against her deformed best friend. Now that’s just bad taste.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“How to Rob a Bank”
Newbie director Andrew Jenkins’ debut feature visits the worn genre of the “heist film,” though the helmer gets a bit creative with this exhausted concept by posing questions of who is robbing the bank and what are they after. A couple (Nick Stahl and Erika Christensen) find themselves trapped in a vault, with the bank robber (Gavin Rossdale, of Bush fame) stuck on the other side of the door. The film sounds a bit like “Panic Room” meets “The Nine”… in other words, possibly promising. The film premiered last year at the Cannes Film Festival.

Opens in New York (official site).

“In Bruges”
While this Sundance opening night film may sound like familiar ground (heist-gone-wrong film with rapid-fire dialogue… just see one item above), we’re still excited about noted playwright-turned-director Martin McDonagh’s debut feature. Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson star as a pair of hit men hiding out in Bruges, Belgium, awaiting word from their boss (Ralph Fiennes) after a botched job in London.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“London to Brighton”
Paul Andrew Williams’ inner -ity drama explores underground London culture, tracking a pair of beaten-up prostitutes, a pimp in trouble, and a man left bleeding to death on a bathroom floor. The film won a slew of festival awards in 2006, including the prize for Best Film at the British Independent Film Awards.

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Spiral”
For those yearning for a Joel David Moore double feature this week, the lead of “The Hottie and the Nottie” also co-directed and stars as a lonely telemarketer who is brought out of his shell by a new co-worker (Amber Tamblyn) in this indie thriller. Be on the lookout for a brief appearance by Tricia Helfer, also known as our favorite Cylon Number Six from “Battlestar Galactica.”

Opens in limited release (official site).

“Vince Vaughn’s Wild West Comedy Show”
“Swingers” star Vince Vaughn selects four comedians to perform 30 dates in 30 nights across the United States. Sounds a bit like Dane Cook’s “Tourgasm,” except without the suck of Dane Cook. The comedians featured in this documentary include Ahmed Ahmed, John Caparulo, Bret Ernst and Sebastian Maniscalco.

Opens wide (official site).

“Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins”
Martin Lawrence further tarnishes his comic credibility in this family comedy that finds the formerly edgy comedian playing it safe once again. Lawrence stars as a popular talk show host who leaves Los Angeles for a raucous family reunion in the Deep South. We deeply miss the Lawrence of yesteryear (even “Blue Streak”…. anyone?) and hope that maybe, someday, he’ll return to the risky material that we all grew to love in the early ’90s.

Opens wide (official site).

[Photo: “In Bruges,” Focus Features, 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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