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Opening This Week

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03032008_cj7_a.jpgBy Neil Pedley

[Photo: Stephen Chow’s “CJ7,” Sony Pictures Classics, 2008]

Still nursing a hangover from a week of drunken rage spent stumbling half-naked through the subways of New York, shouting at strangers and ticket machines about how “Michael Clayton” was robbed for best screenplay, I thought I was back in 2007. After all, there’s an ancient epic from Warner Bros., a new Martin Lawrence comedy and… well, Jason Statham seems to have a new movie every month. Upon further investigation, however, “300” and “Wild Hogs” haven’t been retitled and my life returns to some semblance of order.

“10,000 B.C.”
You’ve overseen the invasion of planet Earth by alien forces, trashed New York City by way of a gigantic lizard and buried the entire northern hemisphere under 300 feet of ice and snow. What’s next? Simple, really — you travel back in time 12,000 years and try to find shit to destroy there, instead! Director Roland Emmerich goes medieval on the prehistoric era with an extravagant epic employing 2000 A.D-era computer graphics to breathe life into huge woolly mammoths.
Opens wide.

“The Bank Job”
This Roger Donaldson-helmed cockney crime caper is based on the true story of a 1971 bank robbery of hundreds of security deposit boxes in London and its aftermath. Jason Statham and his crew of likely lads are hired by some shady figures looking to protect the Royal Family after compromising photos are traced to a box in the bank’s vault.
Opens wide.

After being cast out of Tibetan society under the belief that blindness is caused by demons, six visually impaired teenagers are taken under the wing of German social worker Sabriye Tenberken, who attempts the improbable by leading them 23,000 feet up the north face of Mount Everest. English documentarian Lucy Walker, who previously directed the Spirit Award-nominated Amish doc “The Devil’s Playground,” captures it all on film. “Blindspot” won audience awards at both the 2006 AFI Film Festival and at the 2007 Berlin Film Festival.
Opens in New York; expands March 14.

The irrepressible Stephen Chow follows up the hugely successful “Kung Fu Hustle” with this gentle family comedy. Chow writes, directs, produces and stars as a widower indebted to his boss and unable to afford a Christmas present for his son. Skulking around a junkyard, he stumbles across the film’s titular character, the impossibly cute CJ7, an alien he mistakes for a toy and brings home to unexpected results.
Opens in limited release.

“College Road Trip”
Once again recycling his “tightly wound authority figure with the short fuse” schtick, Martin Lawrence stars as a police chief and overprotective father who freaks out when he realizes just how far away his daughter’s college plans will take her. In a stroke of corporate synergy, Raven-Symoné, star of the Disney Channel’s “That’s So Raven,” plays Lawrence’s long-suffering offspring who tries to break out on her own.
Opens wide.

“Fighting For Life”
Terry Sanders, the two-time Oscar winner who last co-directed the Vietnam prisoner of war documentary “Return with Honor,” returns to the battlefield with this documentary about the unsung heroes of the U.S. armed forces — the field army medical core deployed on the front lines of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Taking politics out of the equation, the film focuses on the humanity and compassion of the people charged with saving lives under some of the most difficult and dangerous conditions on Earth.
Opens in limited release.

Winner of a Special Jury Prize for “uncompromising singularity of vision” at the 2007 SXSW film festival, “Frownland” is the story of a man trying to make a living selling coupons door to door. In his directorial debut, Ronald Bronstein delivers a darkly sardonic portrait of one man’s staggering level of social awkwardness and painful inability to communicate and form meaningful relationships with the people around him.
Opens in New York.

“Girls Rock!”
Arne Johnson and Shane King take us behind the scenes of Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, a program designed to combat the indoctrination of teenage girls to conform to a preconceived image by the mainstream media. Every year, the camp takes in eight- to 18-year-old girls and schools them in self-empowerment through music, which leads not only to better self-esteem and self-image, but a chance at becoming the next Joan Jett.
Opens in limited release.

“Married Life”
Chris Cooper leads an all-star cast in Ira Sachs’s adaptation of John Bingham’s cult novel about a man who falls in love with a seductive young woman (Rachel McAdams) but can’t bear the thought of breaking the heart of his wife (Patricia Clarkson). He decides it’d be kindest to find a way to kill the missus. Pierce Brosnan costars.
Opens in limited release.

“Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day”
This romantic farce tells of Miss Pettigrew (Francis McDormand), a perpetually unemployed London governess who poses as a social secretary out of desperation and gets hired by dizzy socialite, Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams). Determined to enjoy herself for a change, Miss Pettigrew decides to make herself right at home and sets a task of navigating Delysia through her precariously overcrowded love life. “Pettigrew” was penned by the tag team of Simon Beaufoy (“The Full Monty”) and David Magee (“Finding Neverland”).
Opens in limited release.

“Paranoid Park”
Enigmatic, divisive director Gus Van Sant returns with another slice of his singular vision of American pie, complete with the usual flavors of innocence lost and youthful alienation. Based on the Blake Nelson novel of the same name, “Paranoid Park” relates the story of Alex, a young skateboarder who must deal with a crisis of conscience after he accidentally kills a security guard while trying to hitch a train ride. Cannes already issued its verdict — “Park” took home a special 60th Anniversary Prize at last year’s festival.
Opens in limited release.

“Snow Angels”
A highlight of last year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Snow Angels” reveals the unfulfilled lives abounding in a declining Pennsylvania town in indie darling David Gordon Green’s adaptation of Stewart O’Nan’s novel. A high school pair (Michael Angarano and Olivia Thirlby) fall in love as an estranged grown-up couple (Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale) deal with the bitter end of their relationship. Amy Sedaris, Nicky Katt and Griffin Dunne round out the eclectic cast.
Opens in New York.

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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…


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.


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).


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.


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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GIFs via Giphy

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.


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.



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 and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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