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Chock Full Of Spock

Chock Full Of Spock (photo)

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The arrival of “Star Trek” signals the start of blockbuster season (in our orbit, “Wolverine” doesn’t count), and the indie world wastes no time with responding in kind with a few big name players of its own.

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Atom Egoyan landed himself a Palme d’Or nomination at last year’s Cannes for the latest of his patented multi-stranded narratives of introspection, this one a meditation on the marginalization of truth and the role of technology in the post-9/11 mindset. Devon Bostick stars as Simon, an orphaned student whose class assignment translating a newspaper article about the would-be martyrdom of a pregnant woman has personal ramifications when he writes a fictionalized op-ed from the perspective of the now-grown child that takes on a life of its own once it hits the web.
Opens in New York and Los Angeles.

“Audience of One”
Pastor-turned-director-turned-studio-mogul Richard Gazowsky appealed to his congregation’s generous spirit after receiving what he described as a “prophetic whisper” to make movies for God. Documentarian Mike Jacobs shadows the proceedings, as Gazowsky, having transformed the church into a makeshift movie studio, invites his dedicated team of true believers to hunt the white whale with him in the form of a $50 million biblical science-fiction epic which, he maintains, will reshape the landscape of faith-based filmmaking.
Opens in New York.

“Flower in the Pocket”
True to the style of emerging Malaysian New Wave cinema, first-time filmmaker Liew Seng Tat’s no-frills parable about a trio of plucky prepubescents maintains a strict emotional distance, inviting viewers to dictate their own level of involvement. With their workaholic father too busy tending the mannequins he fixes for a living to pay them mind, spirited brothers Li Ahn and Li Ohm roam the neighborhood with friend Ayu (Amira Nasuha), a fatherless misfit whose mother radiates a warm, nurturing glow that is at once both alien and alluring. In Mandarin with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

Inspired by John Cassavetes’s 1980 thriller “Gloria,” which landed star Gena Rowlands her second Oscar nomination, French arthouse director Erick Zonca makes his English-language debut, transplanting the action from New York to Los Angeles. Tilda Swinton, who could make a car insurance commercial compelling, stars as the titular shambolic drunk who assists in kidnapping the son of a fellow AA member (Kate del Castillo), but finds the ransom hard to come by after her booze-fueled antics run her afoul of some Mexican thugs.
Opens in limited release.

“Kabei – Our Mother”
Prolific Japanese helmer Yoji Yamada marks the awe-inspiring career milestone of an 80th feature film with a traditionalist period piece musing on his nation’s ever-present burden of post-war shame and the all-important role of family. In 1940s Tokyo, professor Shigeru Nogami (Mitsugoro Bando) finds himself imprisoned for transgressions against the official record of the Japanese invasion of China. In the outside world, the sympathetic but silent community rallies to the aid of his wife (Sayuri Yoshinaga), who struggles to raise her two daughters without her husband’s support.
Opens in Hawaii.

“Little Ashes”
Brit director Paul Morrison (“Wondrous Oblivion”) takes the reins of writer Philippa Goslett’s debut script, with the latter taking creative license in depicting the fiercely debated homosexual relationship between the young Salvador Dalí and poet Federico García Lorca (which Dali has always flatly denied) as fact. A pre-“Twilight” Robert Pattinson stars as the renowned Spanish surrealist, who becomes Bella Swan to Lorca’s Edward Cullen as the gay dramatist and poet (played by Javier Beltrán) pursues Dalí with relentless vigor throughout their long friendship.
Opens in limited release.

“Love ‘N Dancing”
Despite its well-intentioned escapist premise, this latest offering from “She’s All That” director Robert Iscove seems the sort of sickly sweet affair where you wonder how people this wholesome and good-looking can pretend to have the type of problems anyone real can relate to. Amy Smart stars as a bored English teacher whose untapped talent on the dance floor catches the eye of a swing dancing champion (Tom Malloy, who also scripts and produces), leading to an invitation to partner with him at the upcoming national championship.
Opens in limited release.

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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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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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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