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“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”

“Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” (photo)

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With its title and indie rock soundtrack, “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist” tries to pass itself off as the underground music lover’s dream romantic comedy. But while its characters claim to listen to music and even occasionally play music, they never talk about it in any convincingly intelligent way. Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) have exactly one minor conversation about the thing that allegedly is the source of their magical compatibility. Nick supposedly makes the best mix CDs with clever titles like “Road to Closure: Volume 2”; we don’t hear them. He loves an elusive but supposedly incredible band called Where’s Fluffy; we don’t hear them. The movie is like a kid who likes to wear the T-shirts of cool bands but doesn’t actually listen to their albums.

Nick is the only heterosexual member of a band named The Jerk Offs. According to the press notes, they’re part of a “queercore” movement in New York City — not that the movie uses that term, or any term, to describe their sound. We’ve got to make do with what we hear from their one brief performance at Arlene’s Grocery on the Lower East Side. It’s there that Nick runs into his cruel ex-girlfriend Tris (Alexis Dziena) who also enjoys bagging on her classmate Norah’s single girl status. To deflect Tris’ insults, Norah impetuously drafts Nick as her stand-in boyfriend and one magically spontaneous smooch later, the duo are off in his yellow Yugo for a night of wacky misadventures through Manhattan’s club scene.

“Nick and Norah” is the type of movie that reminds you of other better movies. It keeps forcing you to compare it to other things and none of them work in its favor. The musical elitist milieu reeks of “High Fidelity,” but doesn’t boast that film’s convincingly snarky dialogue or its flair for romantic gesture. The title alludes to the witty repartee of “The Thin Man” series, but Cera and Dennings, attractively likable as they are, can’t hold a candle to William Powell and Myrna Loy’s chemistry or banter. The Jerk Offs open for Bishop Allen, whose lead singer Justin Rice was the star of a far superior movie about New York’s indie music world, “Mutual Appreciation.” There’s a scene in a public toilet that calls to mind “Trainspotting” and a bad parallel parking gag that recalls “Annie Hall.”

With one great performance after another, Michael Cera’s built up an air of infallibility during his relatively short career; “Nick and Norah” proves to be his first true stumble. He’s become quite adept at playing the awkward teenager; maybe a little too good. He’s called upon in “Nick and Norah” to be a bit more of a brooding, artistic type and it doesn’t suit him or his brand of self-deprecating comedy. His Nick isn’t even moody; he’s just disinterested, even when he’s got two beautiful girls fighting over his affections. He hasn’t done any favors by the screenplay either, which offers him few opportunities to be passionate about anything, including his music.

The film’s director, Peter Sollett, has a good feel for the vibe of a certain kind of ironically detached New York nightlife and an empathy for his characters’ teenage desires that’s refreshing in the face of so many high school movies that preach to (or worse, demonize) their audience. There’s one scene on a pier between Nick and Tris so full of unspoken sexual tension and clever visual flourishes (a lipstick kiss on a windshield, a wiper quickly removing it) it makes you wonder where that energy went during the rest of the film. Perhaps it was put into the soundtrack, which features wonderful songs from We Are Scientists, The Dead 60s and Paul Tiernan, amongst others. None of them are discussed, but they’re there, on the Road to Closure.

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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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