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Tones of Home

Tones of Home (photo)

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Despite filmgoers’ general lack of ticket-buying interest, the omnibus film — thematically contiguous shorts or semi-shorts by various filmmakers, packaged together as a feature — is enjoying an unlikely resurgence akin to its Euro heyday in the ’60s. What’s rousing about the phenom, then and especially now, is that its thriving fecundity is largely fed by the creative yens of directors and producers, not by the entertainment demands of a mass audience. To a certain degree, you get the sense that no one involved in, say, “Paris, Je T’Aime” (2006) (Van Sant, Assayas, Coen, Cuaron, etc.), or “To Each His Own Cinema” (2007) (Angelopoulos, Kiarostami, Kitano, Egoyan, Campion, Loach, Dardennes, de Oliveira, Wong, Lynch, etc.), or “New York, I Love You” (2009) (Akin, Ratner, Iwai, Nair, etc.), cared much if filmgoers queue up or not, so long as they get a chance to explore the short form and then assemble a larger fugue out of the disparate powerhouse voices assembled. As it is, the collections are almost always interesting, if not often satisfying, but the Japanese-produced, digitally-shot “Tokyo!” (2009) is a thorny, dyspeptic joy, less an outright “city symphony” love letter like several of the other recent genre shots than an idiosyncratic prism-view of one of the world’s most pop culture-disoriented urban cultures.

Not that Tokyo itself is the material protagonist; the three sections, by foreigners Michel Gondry, Leos Carax and Bong Joon-ho, are obsessive meta-tales characteristic of their auteurs, and the city is plumbed mostly for its cramped sense of the surreal. Gondry’s “Interior Design” begins prosaically enough, as a young woman and her filmmaker boyfriend crash on a friend’s apartment floor, bicker and lose their car to impoundment as the debut of his new interactive film (at a porn theater) approaches. But then Gondry’s distinctive sense emerges: feeling like little more than a byproduct and facilitator of her boyfriend’s ambition, the girl begins to slowly transform into a chair, a process that’s indisputably physical just as it is subjective, in the typical Gondry way — it depends on how you look at it, and her.

Bong’s “Shaking Tokyo” is a lovely, resonant and oddly critic-dumped ode to dense urban life and its contingent loneliness — a catastrophically insulated shut-in, whose apartment is a labyrinth of meticulously stacked books, household goods and used cardboard, has his decade-long routine (at one point, he closes his eyes, opens them, and suddenly another year has passed) disrupted by earthquakes and a pizza delivery girl with tattoo buttons (to push in case of “sadness,” “hysteria,” “headache” and so on). The anal-retentive apocalypse that follows is delicate and inspiring, and Bong’s attention to details (a goosebump-risen hair, a plume of dust from a never-used shoe) is dazzling.

07072009_tokyo2.jpgBut Carax’s lunatic entry, “Merde,” is an unfettered cataract of reckless, psychosocial id, coming at us in the form of a monster movie (Godzilla’s theme and roar figure in the soundtrack), with its society-threatening creature, rising out of the sewer, played by Carax vet-acrobat-homunculus Denis Lavant. A smelly, unwashed, outrageously dressed (green velvet suit and cartoonishly twisted orange beard), palsy-gnarled homicidal Frenchman, limping through the streets hurling war-surplus hand grenades and terrorizing the often-terrorized Japanese, in a film made in Japan by an eccentric Frenchman, is one thing — but Carax pushes all of the buttons, bringing the titular goon to trial (where he only speaks gibberish with a renegade defense lawyer who has the same beard and dead eye, the two looking like mutant variations of Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible), where the translations (and multiple screens) mix and match between French, Japanese and nonsense, the Japanese authorities talk about “tougher immigration regulations” against “white foreigners with red beards,” and Merde himself becomes a pop star, complete with followers, figurine collectibles and a TV-news logo. That Carax has Lavant continually looking up into the light in a Christ-like pose may be the final affront, for the French at least if not the Japanese, whose famed isolationist homogeneity/xenophobia otherwise takes it in the throat.

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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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