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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week

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04282008_thefavor.jpgBy Neil Pedley

The Tribeca Film Festival is in full swing, but if you don’t live in New York, there’s no need to fret. No less than three films (“From Within,” “Mister Lonely” and “Redbelt”) on this list of coming attractions have played the festival in recent days. Then again, if you are in New York and want to catch something outside the fest, there’s always that intimate character drama starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and a red and gold metal suit of armor.

“The Favor”
Writer/director Eva J. Aridjis brings us a quiet tale of angst and alienation starring former New York subway busker Ryan Donowho as Johnny, a high school loner who’s taken in by Lawrence (Frank Wood), a quiet pet photographer, after his mother (Paige Turco) is killed in an accident. In order to be the father he needs, Lawrence must fight through Johnny’s rebellious behavior and enlist the help of the one person he responds to — Marianna (Isidra Vega), a gentle neighborhood girl.
Opens in limited release.

“Fugitive Pieces”
Premiering at last year’s Toronto Film Festival, this adaptation of Anne Michaels’s novel was written and directed by Jeremy Podeswa, who last made a splash with the Mary-Louise Parker drama “The Five Senses.” Robbie Kay stars as the young Jakob, a boy rescued and smuggled out of occupied Poland after his parents die at the hands of a Greek archeologist (Rade Serbedzija). Jakob is played later in life by Stephen Dillane as a man still haunted by his memories and hiding behind his writing as he struggles to reconnect with his humanity and the woman who loves him (Ayelet Zurer).
Opens in limited release.

“Iron Man”
It just wouldn’t be summer without superheroesm and “Iron Man” is turning on his jet pack and taking the maiden voyage of this year’s blockbuster season. Robert Downey Jr. stars as the other man of steel by night and by day, rogue billionaire and military industrialist Tony Stark, a man who constructs an armored suit for himself after realizing the potential devastation his weapons could cause in the wrong hands. Director Jon Favreau, whose own alter ego was the host of IFC’s “Dinner for Five,” was entrusted to make sure this flagship Marvel franchise turns out more like “Spider-Man” than “Ghost Rider.”
Opens wide.

“Made of Honor”
Brit Paul Weiland, who directed more made-for-TV “Mr. Bean” movies than is probably healthy, helms this big screen adventure that continues the current fad of romantic comedies told from the male perspective. Patrick Dempsey fills in for Rowan Atkinson as a confirmed bachelor who feels he will never find a woman as good as his best friend Hannah (Michelle Monaghan), but when he finally realizes that she’s indeed the one, he has a small problem — she’s gotten engaged to someone else. We don’t want to give spoilers, but we think we know how this ends if the former “Can’t Buy Me Love” star pulls out that seductive riding lawn mower of his.
Opens wide.

“Mister Lonely”
Harmony Korine, who rose to prominence with shockingly provocative films like “Julien Donkey-Boy” and “Gummo,” shows his softer side in this whimsical story of love and identity, co-scripted by his brother Avi. Diego Luna stars as a Michael Jackson impersonator who meets a Marilyn Monroe impersonator (Samantha Morton) while in Paris and leaves with her for a self-contained commune in Scotland populated exclusively by look-a-likes. Denis Lavant and Werner Herzog are also part of the film’s eclectic supporting cast.
Opens in limited release.

“Redbelt”
As surprised as we were to see a David Mamet film without William H. Macy, we might have been a little bit more shocking to see UFC titans Randy Couture and Enson Ionue in one. Regardless, the acclaimed playwright once again makes the world safe for the F-word while classing-up what would otherwise a lowbrow martial arts vehicle starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as a self-defense instructor forced to approach the world of pay-per-view fighting after his training regimen is stolen and employed as a gimmick by an unscrupulous promoter. But Mamet’s mixed martial arts film is no joke — the writer/director holds a purple belt in jujitsu and is said to be an ardent fan of MMA.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Son of Rambow”
Hammer & Tongs (a.k.a. director Garth Jennings and producer Nick Goldsmith) revisit their intended first production, which was put on hold while they brought us the brave but flawed adaptation of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy.” Pint-sized debutants Bill Milner and Will Poulter star as two boys — one raised in a puritanical community, the other spawned from the local black sheep — who form an unlikely friendship as they decide to make their own version of “Rambo: First Blood.” Already a hit with critics in the U.K., it remains to be seen if ’80s nostalgia and the unmistakable backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain will translate as well for an American audience.
Opens in limited release.

“XXY”
A hit on the international festival circuit last year, this offbeat drama tells of a family’s struggle to cope with their child’s intersexuality once she turns 15. Inés Efron stars as Alex, the young hermaphrodite who is trying to reconcile an identity in the face of a turbulent sexual awakening due to a family friend, Alvaro (Martín Piroyanski), and their families’ mutual fears and prejudices. At last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the film secured a Critic’s Week prize for its director, Lucía Puenzo.
Opens in New York.

[Photo: “The Favor,” Seventh Art Releasing, 2006]

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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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