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Opening This Week

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04142008_anamorph.jpgBy Neil Pedley

With such variety this week, we could be tempted to go nuts and combine them into one super movie. Osama Bin Laden would have 88 minutes to paint an anamorphic picture that disproved Darwinism while riding the winner of the Kentucky Derby through ancient China with his gay lover who is also an Oscar nominated composer moonlighting as a zombie stripper…we smell a Golden Globe!

Utilizing the painting technique of anamorphosis, whereby the nature of an image changes depending on the viewer’s vantage point, filmmaker Henry Miller marks his directorial debut with this intricate and cerebral thriller that reads like “Saw” by way of “The Da Vinci Code.” Willem Dafoe stars as the dogged but haunted Detective Aubray, on the trail of carefully placed clues and elaborate puzzles, trying to catch a serial killer whose crimes bare a striking resemblance to an old case he is desperate to forget.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on May 2nd.

“88 Minutes”
Producer and occasional director Jon Avnet helms his first feature for 10 years — a ticking-clock thriller starring Mr. Shouty himself, Al Pacino, as a forensic psychiatrist with a checkered past who’s targeted by a copycat serial killer and told he has just 88 minutes to live. Though Pacino’s character may not have long to live, the film itself has actually sat on the shelf since 2005, but after pirate copies of the international release found their way into the U.S., Sony, along with the film’s — are you ready? — 19 producers, had to rethink the release date and spare Al the indignity of going straight to DVD.
Opens wide.

“Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”
Veteran character actor (“Bueller? Bueller?”) and recently christened New York Times op-ed columnist Ben Stein is turning his outspoken advocacy for intelligent design theory into the backbone of this controversial documentary. Stein, who co-scripted along with Kevin Miller and Walt Ruloff, highlight what they believe to be a relentless campaign of persecution within the scientific community directed against anyone who attempts to contradict Darwinist theory. While they build a case that their claim is far from baseless, the film has already sparked a backlash from some participants and interviewees who claim that they were misled as to the film’s intentions.
Opens wide.

“The First Saturday in May”
Filmmakers Brad and John Hennigan capture the inside track of horse racing’s most prestigious annual event, the Kentucky Derby, through the eyes of six trainers, and document what it takes to breed, train and maintain a thoroughbred that has a chance to win this most coveted prize. The film also explores the colorful galaxy of people that populate the racing world, complete with sporting hats that cost more than most people’s rent.
Opens in limited release.

“The Forbidden Kingdom”
Rob Minkoff, the man behind “The Lion King” and “Stuart Little”, is going PG-13 with this highly anticipated clash between two of martial arts’ greatest icons, which pits the elegant finesse of Jet Li against the circus acrobatics of Jackie Chan as the two rival fighters must escort an American teenager transported back in time to ancient China by a mystical weapon that must be returned to its owner. The film is (very loosely) based on “Journey to the West,” one of the most cherished works of Chinese literature, which makes one wonder even more why it took an American production to finally bring Li and Chan together.
Opens wide.

“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”
Sarah Marshalls around the country won’t soon forget the guerrilla marketing campaign for the latest Judd Apatow-produced romantic comedy, involving posters blaring “You suck, Sarah Marshall.” But even they might need to check out their namesake, played by Kristen Bell, as she ditches her boyfriend for a pop singer, only to discover that her ex is staying at the same hotel in Hawaii. Jason Segel, who stars as the jilted party, wrote the film’s script and based it on real life experiences.
Opens wide.

“Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts”
Scott Hicks, who received an Oscar nomination for “Shine,” returns to music to follow a hectic and eventful year in the life of composer Philip Glass. Shot to commemorate Glass’ 70th birthday, the film looks back at his life and illustrious 40-year career and divides his story into twelve separate chapters, slowly building to a pulsating crescendo that celebrates the work of one of the great composers of our time — but in a way that doesn’t overdo it, of course.
Opens in New York.

“Kiss the Bride”
Tori Spelling rarely makes the pilgrimage from the small screen to the big screen, so imagine our excitement when we saw that the star of “Mother, May I Sleep With Danger” shows off her comedy chops in this low-budget gender reversal rom-com from the pen of first time writer-director Tyler Lieberman. Philip Karner stars as Matt, a man who sets out to crash the wedding of his high school buddy and secret sweetheart, Ryan (James O’Shae) and his bride-to-be Alex (Spelling). Joanna Cassidy and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”‘s Amber Benson are there for the nuptials, even if Spelling finds herself the odd woman out.
Opens in limited release.

“The Life Before Her Eyes”
After his no-frills adaptation of “House of Sand and Fog,” director Vadim Perelman is turning his lens towards Laura Kasischke’s eerie novel, with Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood splitting the lead role as Diana, a once capricious and restless teenager who’s haunted later in life by an event from her past. As the anniversary of the tragedy approaches, Diana’s adult life begins to fall apart and the line between perception and reality becomes more and more illusory.
Opens in limited release.

“Heroes” own Peter Petrelli, Milo Ventimiglia, takes center stage as a promising med student who enters into one of the country’s top pathology programs, and by extension, a competition in which each student proves their expertise by committing the perfect, untraceable crime. Of course, Ventimiglia discovers his fellow classmates, led by Michael Weston and Alyssa Milano, might be one scalpel short of a full operating table in this dark and moody gothic thriller from German director Marc Schoelermann and the producers of “Crank.”
Opens in wide release.

“The Tiger’s Tail”
It’s fitting that this enigmatic tale of guilt and capitalism in the height of Ireland’s economic booms snuck up on us, because otherwise we would have spent weeks obsessing about the reunion of Brendan Gleeson with “The General” director John Boorman. Gleeson stars as Liam O’Leary, a successful Dublin businessman who begins to believe he’s being stalked by a malicious doppelganger with dark intentions in Boorman’s darkly comic portrait of Ireland’s princes and paupers at a time when rich and poor were deeply divided. We expect co-star Kim Cattrall to look fabulous, even if her “Oirish” accent isn’t pitch perfect.
Opens in limited release.

“Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden”
After taking on the evils of McDonald’s, the public education system and…er..Christmas, Morgan Spurlock, goes after his most high profile target yet, Osama Bin Laden. Traveling through Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Palestine, Israel and Pakistan, Spurlock uses his unpretentious approach and trademark humor to hunt for the world’s most wanted man while gaging the climate and engaging the people. Though the film’s cinematographer Daniel Marracino told Variety “we’ve definitely got the Holy Grail,” we may just have to settle for seeing Spurlock rock a full-on chin curtain.
Opens in limited release.

“Zombie Strippers”
Robert Englund (a.k.a. Freddy Krueger) slaps the scenery between two pieces of bread and takes a huge bite in this tongue-in-cheek (at least we certainly hope so) horror comedy that, much like peanut butter cups, combines two of the average twenty-something male’s favorite things. When a secret government virus is accidentally released onto the sleepy town of Satre, Nebraska, the resulting zombie stripper becomes the town’s new sensation, which leaves co-star Jenna Jameson and her cadre of living dead ladies of loose morals to run wild.
Opens in limited release.

[Photo: “Anamorph,” IFC Films, 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.


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…


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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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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