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Everybody’s (Sorta) Fine

Everybody’s (Sorta) Fine (photo)

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“Everyone’s been asking how we’re doing this week,” film critic-turned-AFI programmer Robert Koehler said, shortly before a screening of Juan José Campanella’s Argentinean murder mystery “The Secret of Their Eyes.” “And the answer is our sponsors.” Indeed, thanks to chief sponsor Audi, AFI has responded to an economy that’s been particularly unkind to film festivals with free tickets that have ensured capacity attendance to most, if not all, of their screenings at the Mann’s Chinese Theaters in Hollywood.

Even the more obscure titles that Koehler and his team have programmed, like Philippe Grandrieux’s “The Lake” or the Spanish Berlinale winner “The Milk of Sorrow,” have seen solid attendance. But the fact that so many have been asking the question is more telling than the answer — with a changing audience profile (a Bugs Bunny impersonator wandered into Tuesday’s screening of “Youth in Revolt” in full costume from entertaining on the Hollywood Walk of Fame right outside) and speculation about what the great turnout might even mean for the future of the festival.

The strange mood was passed on to the festival’s one true world premiere, “Everybody’s Fine,” which could hardly describe the bittersweet nature of the evening. The week before, the film’s distributor Miramax let go of their president, Daniel Battsek, and was reduced to a smaller operation. Shortly after he was appointed, Battsek surprised everyone by coming out swinging when he took over from Miramax founders Bob and Harvey Weinstein with a streak of hits like “The Queen” and “No Country for Old Men.” He seems, strangely, to have come full circle in making a film that Harvey would’ve gladly greenlit in his day as his swan song for the company. In fact, Harvey did distribute the 1990 Giuseppe Tornatore film that “Everybody’s Fine” is based on.

There are worse ways to go out. Without Miramax, there aren’t many places left to put out this kind of cinematic comfort food that the major studios have abandoned in favor of financing would-be blockbusters and that edgier independents have rarely shown an interest in. (For those who still wax nostalgic about Miramax’s days as part of that second category, this has been a tragedy long settled.) And if there was ever a director to handle such material, it’s Kirk Jones, who proved a particularly human touch with 1998’s “Waking Ned Devine” before stumbling with the excesses of food fights and facial boils in the kiddie comedy “Nanny McPhee.”

“Everybody’s Fine” indulges both those impulses, with the former unfortunately giving into the latter in the story of a retired widower (Robert De Niro) who tires of his daily routine of puttering around the house and sets off to surprise each of his four kids who have settled around the country. Contrary to the actual De Niro, who introduced the film in typical brevity by saying, “Well, okay, I have to say something,” Frank is a talkative type, prone to having wistful conversations without everyone around, musing to his fellow train passengers about the PVC coating he applied to the miles of phone line that they pass, wondering about the good news and the bad news that have come across “my wires.”

11112009_EverybodysFine2.jpgLittle does Frank know that there’s plenty of bad news being splashed across those wires by his children, who have a far easier time talking to each other than to their demanding dad. As Frank visits Chicago to see his ad exec daughter Amy (Kate Beckinsale), Denver for his classical musician son Robert (Sam Rockwell) and Las Vegas for his dancer daughter Rosie (Drew Barrymore), he’s unaware that his unsuccessful first visit to see his troubled son David in New York is a major cause for concern to the rest of the family that serves as the film’s throughline.

While Beckinsale, Barrymore and Rockwell all give their characters more definition and vibrancy than they probably deserve, “Everyody’s Fine” is really just a showcase for De Niro to do his best “About Schmidt” impression. Though he tries admirably, he’s stuck with Jones’ obvious allegiance to Tornatore’s original film, which dabbled in dream sequences and flashbacks that weren’t entirely successful in emphasizing the patriarch’s disconnect with his children even in 1990 or from the guy who worked his magic on “Cinema Paradiso.” Interestingly enough, Jones, a Brit, said before the premiere that that it took him a long time to have “the courage to make a film here [in the U.S.],” which makes his strange choice to remake an Italian melodrama something altogether foreign.

As for Bob and Harvey themselves, the brothers Weinstein had three films to present at AFI — “The Road,” “Youth in Revolt” and the Toronto pick-up “A Single Man,” and while I can only speak for the latter two, the films connected in a way that has been rare for the pair’s much-maligned post-Miramax era. However, the success of “Youth in Revolt” didn’t come easy.

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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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