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Surfers, Dancers and Wolverine

Surfers, Dancers and Wolverine (photo)

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With Tribeca well under way, there’s much in the way of art house fare this week for everyone with a rich international flavor. Go crazy!

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“A Wink and a Smile”
Seattle-based documentary filmmaker Deirdre Allen Timmons makes her debut by pulling back the velvet curtain on the world of burlesque, where art and erotica co-exist in the same spectacle. Timmons introduces ten game volunteers, comprised of eager housewives and bored professionals, to Miss Indigo Blue’s House of Burlesque, where the ladies find self-confidence and empowerment as they’re instructed by Miss Blue in the age-old art of theatrical titillation.
Opens in New York.

“Battle For Terra”
Having spent much of the last 15 years honing his skills as a digital artist on the likes of “Hellboy,” effects wizard Aristomenis Tsirbas wields the pixelated megaphone for his feature debut, a futuristic world-at-war saga adapted from his own 2003 short “Terra.” Marooned in deep space, the last remnants of humanity, led by the imperialistic General Hemmer (Brian Cox), set about eradicating the population of the peaceful planet of Terra so as to claim it for themselves. On the planet’s surface, two rebellious teens (Evan Rachel Wood and Justin Long) do whatever they can to prevent their planet’s destruction.
Opens wide and in 3D.

Belgian actor-turned-helmer Bouli Lanners’ follow-up to his 2005 debut “Ultranova” is a darkly comic road trip that served as his country’s official entry to the most recent Academy Awards. Lanners stars as Yven, a disgruntled, middle-aged car dealer who returns home to find a young man (Fabrice Adde) attempting to burgle his house. Rather than calling the police, Yven elects to drive him across country to his parents’ place on the French border. In French with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“Ghosts of Girlfriends Past”
Employing the template of “A Christmas Carol” peppered with a little Valentine’s Day schmaltz, this latest incarnation of the battle of the sexes, courtesy of “Mean Girls” director Mark Waters, arrives in May (obviously!) to once more remind us that women are from Venus and men are from some planet where they embrace commitment like they embrace broadly drawn romantic comedies that patronize them for not embracing commitment. Matthew McConaughey is Connor Mead, a celebrity photographer and playboy who’s visited by three ghosts who lead him on a romantic retrospective of his many conquests on the way to his one true love, Jenny (Jennifer Garner).
Opens wide.

Mother-daughter bonds run deep in this labor of love feature from writer/director Mary Haverstick. Haverstick’s tale of grief and the ravages of disease, laced with her late mother’s poetry, finds Oscar-winner Marcia Gay Harden playing opposite her own daughter, Eulala Scheel, in the latter’s acting debut. Harden stars as Inga, a spectator to her disintegrating marriage to Hermann (Michael Gaston) following a mastectomy.
Opens in limited release.

“I Can See You”
Writer/director Graham Reznick’s no-budget debut is an abstract visceral parody of one of horror’s most noted clichés, which Reznick himself describes as “a psychedelic horror experience.” “You” is about three fledgling advertising executives (Ben Dickenson, Duncan Skiles, Chris Ford) looking to brainstorm the rebranding of a kitchen cleaner, who naturally decide that the best place to do that is in a cabin in the woods in the middle of nowhere. When one of their girlfriends disappears, another suffers a mental breakdown, and the situation quickly begins to unravel.
Opens in New York.

“Ice People”
Having done much in recent years to bring light to the plight of the Rwandan people, French-American documentary filmmaker Anne Aghion paints a less harrowing but equally compelling portrait of the most inhospitable terrain on Earth. Focusing on a quartet of researchers, Aghion charts the vast, outer reaches of human endurance as the group commit to six months of “deep field” isolation in temperatures as low as minus-60° as they search for fossilized evidence of a once lush and verdant Antarctica that might enlighten us as to the history of our planet.
Opens in New York.

“The Limits of Control”
Through his eclectic career, director Jim Jarmusch’s fascination with genre-splicing and casting against type have yielded results good (“Dead Man”), bad (“Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai”) and downright anemic (“Broken Flowers”). This latest effort finds the divisive helmer returning to the theme of the enigmatic stranger operating according to his own mysterious code. Isaach De Bankolé stars as a mysterious loner hired to do a job in Spain, where he encounters a barrage of colorful characters that includes Bill Murray’s shady businessman, Tilda Swinton’s fixer and Paz de la Huerta’s sultry femme fatale. John Hurt, Gael García Bernal and Hiam Abbass round out the supporting cast.
Opens in limited release.

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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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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.


IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.



IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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