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Monsters vs. John Cena vs. Cindy Sherman

Monsters vs. John Cena vs. Cindy Sherman (photo)

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A barrage of quality indie fare this week compliments a couple of seriously intriguing docs as well as some less than stellar genre fare as the blockbuster season of summer quietly inches ever closer.

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“12 Rounds”
It’s something of an irony that Renny Harlin, the man who made grown men cry with the abominable “Die Hard 2,” should scratch out a paycheck at the helm of this derivative WWE Studios thriller with a plot that borrows so heavily from the infinitely superior “Die Hard With a Vengeance.” Sporting the customary condom-full-of-bowling-balls physique, WWE grappler John Cena stars as New Orleans detective Danny Fisher, the target of much ham-fisted ire from international terrorist Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen), who blames Fisher for the death of his girlfriend. With his own girlfriend Molly (Ashley Scott) now held hostage by Jackson, Fisher becomes the pawn in a Machiavellian scheme of vengeance comprising 12 elaborate games, each more deadly than the last.
Opens wide.

“American Swing”
As demonstrated by the current economic downturn gifting the movie industry its first billion dollar January in history, troubled times send common folk scurrying for escapist fare, which in the hedonistic wake of the sexual revolution (circa late ’70s New York) more often than not meant sex and drugs. (Rock ‘n’ roll had gotten lost somewhere along the way.) The feature doc debut for co-directors Jon Hart and Mathew Kaufman uses never-before-seen footage to take us inside the infamous Manhattan swingers club Plato’s Retreat, run by self-anointed “King of Swing” Larry Levenson. Splicing together unearthed archive footage with candid testimony from former staff and patrons, “American Swing” is a snapshot of a unique time and place, where simple people came to enjoy simple pleasures, checking their inhibitions (and frequently their clothing) at the door.
Opens in New York.


“The Education of Charlie Banks”
Having debuted last year with what was technically his sophomore feature “The Longshots”, the enigmatic Fred Durst — a man no one could possibly confuse as being warm and fuzzy (though sweaty and hairy, perhaps) — continues to confound expectations with this ’80s-set character-driven morality tale. Jesse Eisenberg, who rivals Michael Cera as the master of the awkward pause, stars as the titular high schooler whose anonymous tip off lands his one-time playground nemesis Mick (Jason Ritter) behind bars for a vicious assault. Fast forward to college and Charlie and his best friend Danny (Chris Marquette) find their perfect world interrupted as Mick inexplicably resurfaces to embed himself into their lives, much to Charlie’s dismay.
Opens in limited release.

“Guest of Cindy Sherman”
The ’80s art boom in New York was both a hunting ground and an unexpected place of acceptance for gonzo public access reporter Paul H-O (short for Hasegawa-Overacker), an art-world commentator who was as quick to point out a no-clothes-emperor as he was to praise genuine artistic triumph. Cutting together several years worth of footage from his constantly running camcorder, H-O’s cathartic documentary debut is a charming, if occasionally creepy, chronicle of his longtime romantic involvement with reclusive art scene titan Cindy Sherman and his (ultimately futile) bid to reconcile his role as an unequal partner (read: less famous) in the relationship.
Opens in limited release.

“The Haunting of Connecticut”
For too long now, the term “based on actual events” has been employed as a bandage for filmmakers who realize “we haven’t really thought this through” and while not limited to the horror genre (hello “Changeling!”), the trend is more prevalent here than anywhere else. In fact, the only thing more perplexing than why we continue to cough up money just to see a film trot out the old Jonsey-the-cat scare is the question of when the clearly quite talented Kyle Gallner is going to land himself a breakout role? Here Gallner wastes away (literally) as the cancer-stricken Matt Campbell at the center of director Peter Cornwell’s debut about a family beset with all manner of spooky goings-on in their storied suburban pad. Virginia Madsen, Elias Koteas and Martin Donovan co-star.
Opens wide.

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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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