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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (in Woody Allen’s Movies)

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (in Woody Allen’s Movies) (photo)

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As far back as last February, the press began speculating about a supposed lesbian tryst between the stars of Woody Allen’s new film “Vicky Christina Barcelona.” Under a headline reading “Sapphic Steam,” the New York Post’s Page Six announced that they’d learned from an anonymous source that the scene between Scarlett Johansson and Penélope Cruz was “extremely erotic” and that when the film reached theaters audiences would “be blown away and even shocked.” Various news agencies picked up the story. Some even distorted it further; one website assured its readers in no uncertain terms that “Scarlett Johansson and Penélope Cruz will have lesbian sex in Woody Allen’s new film,” as if the actresses were bypassing any notion of dramatic pretense and doing the scene purely for their own sexual gratification.

Even after “Vicky Christina” played the Cannes Film Festival last May, rumors of the combustible chemistry between the stars continued, but audiences seeing the film as it makes its way around the country in limited release will have to be pretty prudish to be “blown away” by what’s on screen — the moment in question is a same sex make-out scene, infinitely less explicit than movies like “Bound” or “Mulholland Drive.” I guess it’s pretty hot by the standards of a Woody Allen movie, but that makes it pretty tame by most other measures. For 40 years, Allen has made movies about sex without ever actually featuring it.

08202008_woodyallen2.jpgConsider, for example, the alluringly titled “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy” (1982). It sure sounds dirty — hell, the word “sex” is right there in the title. If you saw the DVD in a video store and didn’t know anything about the movie or who made it, you’d have to assume it was a Shakespearian-themed porno flick. Not quite; it’s an easygoing comedy, loosely based on an Ingmar Bergman movie, about three couples spending a weekend together at a house in upstate New York circa the turn of the 20th century. Sex is certainly in the air, but it’s not ever really on screen. At the, ahem, climax, one of the characters dies mid-coitus. He enters the country house from the woods, but the camera remains outside. From within, we hear some grunts and the sound of clothes tearing before Allen cuts away. When we finally make our way inside, the character is already dead. His partner describes the act — “We did it all! Violently! Like two savages! He was screaming with pleasure, and at the highest moment of ecstasy he just keeled over!” — but we never caught even a glimpse. If you’re looking for steam, sapphic or otherwise, you can skip this one; unless your idea of eroticism is the sight of Woody Allen in a pair of old timey bloomers.

Allen has one other film with sex in the title: 1972’s “Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask.” And it, at least, comes a little closer to living up to its title. Based on the sex advice book by Dr. David Reuben, it’s a collection of unconnected sketches about all manner of kink and taboo. It is undoubtedly Allen’s most risqué movie, but it’s also one of his silliest, and it only contains nudity if you count the sight of an enormous, disembodied, milk-squirting boob in a chapter about Woody as an author (whose latest book is entitled “Advanced Sexual Positions: How to Achieve Them Without Laughing”) investigating the bizarre experiments of crazy Dr. Bernardo (John Carradine). The sequence also includes a man enthusiastically humping an enormous rye bread and Dr. Bernardo threatening Woody’s female co-star (Heather MacRae) with gang rape by a troop of Cub Scouts. The movie doesn’t have a great reputation, but it’s most famous for the segment entitled “What is Sodomy?” in which Gene Wilder plays a doctor who falls for one of his patient’s sheep; the funniest moment comes when Wilder’s wife snuggles up to him in bed, sniffs, and goes “Why do you smell like lamb chops?”

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

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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