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Judd Apatow’s David Gordon Green

Judd Apatow’s David Gordon Green (photo)

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Though critics may be divided over “Pineapple Express” — at the time of this writing, it weighs in at 57% on Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer — there is a consensus about at least one aspect of the Judd Apatow-produced stoner comedy: surprise over the choice of David Gordon Green as director. As Roger Ebert puts it in his positive review of the film, Green, “that poet of the cinema, is the last person you’d expect to find directing a male-buddy comedy about two potheads who start a drug war.” Based on some of his own past comments, Green might be inclined to agree with him; when promoting his debut film “George Washington” a few years ago, Green told Charlie Rose, “I’m interested in any movie that’s not like other movies. Growing up, I wasn’t so much a ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Raiders’ kind of kid. I was a guy who’d watch ‘Walkabout.'”

“Pineapple Express,” like most Apatow productions, isn’t just like other movies, it’s about other movies. Potheads Dale (Seth Rogen) and Saul (James Franco) belong in the tradition of Cheech & Chong and Harold & Kumar. Their comedic misadventures place “Pineapple” somewhere in the vicinity of “Lethal Weapon” or “Tango & Cash” in the way it satirizes the action genre’s rigorously observed rules and clichés, while its consistent blend of humor and mayhem puts it in a smaller category with Shane Black’s “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” and Edgar Wright’s “Hot Fuzz.” Apatow’s characters speak to one another in a language of pop culture quotations (“Hey Crockett, how’s Tubbs doing?”) and, in keeping with that habit, “Pineapple Express” even has a prominent “Star Wars” rancor gag, regardless of Green’s childhood viewing habits.

In contrast, the pop culture that informs most of Green’s work isn’t particularly popular in the mainstream sense; Nicholas Roeg, of course, and also Terrence Malick, whose lyrical visual style was a major influence even before he became a producer of Green’s third feature, “Undertow” (2004). That film, like its two predecessors, “George Washington” (2000) and “All the Real Girls” (2003), is set amongst the decaying ruins of America’s industrial South (which, as Green himself put it in an interview with The Believer, appears in his trilogy as “a wasteland where man met nature and nature kicked its ass”). Their plots, such as they are, linger in the mind less than the images from that landscape Green deploys in their service: children walking on train tracks that stretch to the horizon, young lovers in a strained embrace in the middle of an empty bowling alley, gold coins drifting down into a watery abyss. Young love is a frequent theme; so are single parents and generational conflicts. So is spitting.

Green’s last feature, “Snow Angels,” was the first to transplant the director north of the Mason-Dixon line. Initially hired to adapt Stewart O’Nan’s novel for another filmmaker, he eventually assumed the director’s chair himself and took the project well outside his established comfort zone: heavier on plot and narrative, and set in the snowy climate of Western Pennsylvania. “Snow Angels” contains more humor than Green’s previous efforts (which wasn’t terribly difficult), but it still ends with a brutal murder-suicide.

So how the hell did Green come to direct a studio comedy with a not-entirely-ironic Huey Lewis & the News theme song? Pragmatically, the credit belongs to Danny McBride, who was Green’s neighbor in college and recommended him for the gig after getting cast in “Pineapple Express” himself. Brought on to the set of last year’s “Knocked Up” to observe how they do things over in Apatown, Green discovered a like-minded production process that bridged the seemingly disparate styles of movies. Both preferred working with friends and longtime collaborators, both aren’t afraid to take chances on unknown or even untrained actors in crucial roles. And both tend to view screenplays as unfinished sketches rather than sacrosanct texts.

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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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