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DID YOU READ

Opening This Week: Bollywood kung fu, Biggie Smalls and 3-D slashers

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01122009_chandnichowk.jpgBy Neil Pedley

Anyone not waiting on a ski lift (or screening) with bated breath in Utah can spend their time picking through a hodgepodge of some of the finest examples of genre excess you’re likely to find. Bollywood goes to China, the slasher film goes 3D and the people behind “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” make zero effort not to telegraph what will likely end up the lamest rhyming gag ever.

“Chandni Chowk to China”
Warner Bros looks to establish a foothold in Bollywood with this action comedy, the first of a three-picture deal with Indian outfit People Tree Films. Directed by Nikhil Advani, “Chandni Chowk to China” is billed as the first Bollywood kung-fu comedy, a marriage of the traditional song-and-dance set-pieces with the underdog saga of a short order cook-turned-kung-fu master that owes that owes more than a nod to Stephen Chow. Akshay Kumar stars as Sidhu, a lowly chef in Chandni Chowk in Delhi who sets off to Shanghai after a pair of tourists convince him he’s the reincarnation of a legendary war hero. But rather than being treated like royalty when he arrives in China, Sidhu unwittingly finds himself facing off with a vicious local smuggler (Gordon Liu). In Hindi with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Cherry Blossoms”
German novelist-turned-writer/director Doris Dörrie continues her career-long fascination with Japan, which has yielded “Enlightenment Guaranteed” and “The Fisherman and His Wife,” with this somber tale of generational disconnect, loosely inspired by Yasujiro Ozu’s masterpiece “Tokyo Story.” With their grown children in Berlin too busy to welcome them, Rudi (Elmar Wepper) and his wife Trudi (Hannelore Eisner) tiptoe around Germany to visit their to visit their other son, Karl (Maximilian Brückner) in Japan. However, when Trudi’s health takes a turn for the worse, the trip becomes a period of mourning and introspection for
Rudi, who journeys to her beloved Mount Fuji to find peace of mind. In English, German, and Japanese with subtitles.
Opens in New York and San Francisco.

“Hotel for Dogs”
Last year’s impressive resurgence of the protagonist pooch brought the dog movie out of the Hollywood pound and back as kibble for the pre-teen pack. Director Thor Freudenthal’s family-friendly canine caper drafts Nickelodeon alumnus Emma Roberts along with Jake T. Austin, Troy Gentile and Kyla Pratt as a group of wily kids getting one over on mean-spirited guardians Lois (a Cruella-esque Lisa Kudrow) and Carl (a Grinch-like Kevin Dillon) by turning an abandoned hotel into a penthouse paradise for local strays. Cue the hijinks, “Home Alone”-style slapstick, and enough improvised gizmos and gadgets to embarrass MacGyver and expect a sequel somewhere exotic this time next year — “Hotel for Dogs 2: Kahlua Beach Kennels” or the like. You’re welcome, Hollywood.
Opens wide.

“My Bloody Valentine 3-D”
Helmer Patrick Lussier learned his trade dutifully cutting together the bumps and jumps for Wes Craven on the likes of the “Scream” franchise. Here he retools this ’80s cult classic with Jensen Ackles (of TV’s “Supernatural”) starring as Tom Hanniger, a former coal miner returning to his hometown to lay some ghosts to rest on the anniversary of a tragic accident, only to find himself the chief suspect in a series of gruesome slayings. Though it’s hardly James Cameron’s “Avatar,” those curious as to what this Real D Cinema fuss is all about could do worse than pop along. All the terrible acting, appalling plot contrivance and hokey dialogue will feel like it’s mere inches from your face.
Opens wide.

“Notorious”
We all know the Academy likes a music biopic like little kids like ice cream and George Lucas likes money, but the story of a character as, well, notorious as the late Biggie Smalls (played here by Brooklyn rapper Jamal Woolard) was unlikely to ever really feature in their plans — hence, this long-touted movie version of his life land amidst the January dead zone. “Soul Food” director George Tillman Jr. details Biggie’s rise from small-time hustler to one of the most prominent rap artists of all time, pioneering a style that weaved street life into a compelling lyrical narrative. Angela Bassett co-stars as Smalls’ mother, Derek Luke shows up as Sean “Puffy” Combs and Anthony Mackie does his best as Biggie’s rival and former friend Tupac Shakur.
Opens wide.

“Paul Blart: Mall Cop”
If the painfully unfunny viral video — which features the titular Blart hassling skateboarders making, get this, a viral video — is anything to go by, the best thing this latest offering from “Daddy Day Care” director Steve Carr and the guys at Happy Madison has going for it is that it doesn’t star Larry the Cable Guy. Instead, we get Kevin James (star of TV’s hit comedy “Fat Guy Married to Hot Chick Who Catches Him in a Lie Every Single Week — a.k.a. “The King of Queens”) as a police academy washout doing the little Hitler routine at a strip mall who suddenly finds himself the last line of defense against a gang of teenage criminals who holds everyone inside hostage.
Opens wide.

“The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema”
Written by Slavoj Žižek, “The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema” is a guide through 43 films via the filter of the famed philosopher and cultural critic, who narrates from amidst the recreated sets of “Psycho” and “Blue Velvet,” or actual adjoining rooms in what was once the Jack Tar Hotel, setting of key scenes in “The Conversation.” Sophie Fiennes, sister of Ralph and Joseph, directs.
Opens in New York.

“The Sublet”
Urban loneliness may be a myth, according to certain New York magazine features, but that doesn’t mean it can’t fuel an indie comedy. “The Sublet” focuses on Walter, a solitary 71-year-old man who decides the easiest path to meeting new people is to place a fake ad to sublet his apartment, but the applicants he gets — a hit man and a teenage runaway — offer him more adventure than he could have planned.
Opens in New York.

[Photo: “Chandni Chowk to China,” Warner Bros, 2009]

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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.

via GIPHY

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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