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The Fantastic and the Apocalyptic

The Fantastic and the Apocalyptic (photo)

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Richard Curtis sets out to the high seas to rock our world, Roland Emmerich just obliterates it and Wes Anderson reenvisions it in stop-motion animation, while as a group of documentaries ponder real world issues of war, God, poverty and Glenn Gould.

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On behalf of moviegoers everywhere, we here at IFC would like to thank that schoolyard bully who must have so traumatized a young Roland Emmerich that he has spent his recent career ritualistically laying waste to our world one famous landmark at a time. Having previous employed such excuses for mass destruction as alien invasions and global warming, this time cinema’s most destructive director turns to an ancient Mayan prophecy that foretells the end of all mankind, and once again batters humanity — specifically John Cusack and assorted stragglers — like the fist of an angry god through a barrage of CGI natural disasters that rapidly consume our planet.
Opens wide.

Stretching their 2005 short of the same name into a feature, writer David Brind and director Adam Salky offer up a multi-strand narrative about a trio of romantically confused teenagers in their last semester of high school that impressed at its Sundance unveiling earlier this year. Emmy Rossum stars as Alexa, an overachiever and aspiring actress chasing validation, alongside Ashley Springer, who plays Ben, a closeted homosexual struggling for self-acceptance. “Friday Night Lights”‘ Zach Gilford rounds out the trio as Johnny, a privileged bad boy whose anti-social antics mask deep personal insecurities.
Opens in limited release.

“The End of Poverty?”
Employing the anti-capitalist theories and writings of historian Clifford Cobb (on board as an exec producer) for a foundation, activist filmmaker Philippe Diaz delivers a broad view of recent economic history as it relates to the developing world, positing that capitalism is merely the extension of colonialism by other means. With interviews with experts like Joseph Stiglitz and Chalmers Johnson, the left-leaning director points his finger firmly at the West, arguing that the wealth gap has become so severe that the only viable solution is nothing less than the total abolition of privatization.
Opens in New York.

“Fantastic Mr. Fox”
Having got his animation feet wet orchestrating those whimsical underwater sequences that decorated “The Life Aquatic,” Wes Anderson dives right in for this stop-motion adaptation of the classic Roald Dahl kiddie fable. But do not be fooled, we’ve been here before. From the familiar voices of Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson to the preoccupation with wardrobe choices, Anderson’s latest is another tale of a pompous parental figure reconnecting with bruised, neglected offspring, full of deadpan moments of introspection. George Clooney voices the eponymous forest dweller whose ego-stroking, chicken-stealing ways put his wife (Meryl Streep) and children in the crosshairs of a trio of furious farmers.
Opens wide.

“Four Seasons Lodge”
Directed by New York Times journalist Andrew Jacobs, this documentary follows a group of Auschwitz survivors who’ve gathered at the same Catskills resort for the past 26 years to mourn the dead and celebrate the fortune of their lives through shared memories, fellowship and dancing. (No one puts these gals in a corner.) But with their numbers gradually dwindling year after year, group president Hymie Abramowitz, a man who left his own faith back behind the barbed-wire fences, proposes the dissolution of the colony and marks it with one more coming together for a final hurrah.
Opens in New York.

“Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould”
A study of the most celebrated and documented classical musicians of our time, this intimate character piece from French-Canadian filmmakers Michèle Hozer and Peter Raymont attempts to unravel the myriad of contradictions between Gould’s buttoned-down public persona and his hedonistic private life. Laced with telling interviews from key people in his life, the film touches on the pianist’s drug use and his long-standing affair with artist Cornelia Foss in an attempt to form a full portrait of a man many saw, but that few really knew.
Opens in Los Angeles.

“The Good Soldier”
Taking firsthand accounts from five combat veterans from different conflicts, the husband and wife filmmaking team of Michael Uys and Lexy Lovell deliver a pointed anti-war message from men profoundly affected by their experience that pierces the veil of political rhetoric that so enshrouds our military. Uys and Lovell chart the way in which war alters the perception of ideology through a mix of frank interviews with current and future veterans and archival war footage from the wars they fought.
Opens in New York.

“The Hand of Fatima”
More than three decades after the celebrated music journalist and author Robert Palmer traveled the deserts of Morocco on a Rolling Stone assignment to interview the Master Musicians of Jajouka, a band of performers whose music predates recorded history, his daughter Augusta Palmer sets out to retrace his steps. Timed to coincide with the publication of a new anthology of Robert Palmer’s writing, Augusta’s odyssey of self-discovery blends vérité footage captured during her father’s original journey, her visits to the Ahl-Srif mountains and animated interludes together to form a travelogue for musical transcendence.
Opens in New York.

“Love Hurts”
Richard E. Grant, one of the great unsung comedy actors of our age, injects this sophomore effort from TV writer-turned-director Barra Grant with his singular brand of intellectualized mania as Ben Bingham, a newly separated father who throws himself back into the dating game at the behest of his son Justin (Johnny Pacar). But when the younger Bingham zeroes in on becoming a one-woman man himself, Ben realizes that his series of dates with the likes of his personal trainer (Janeane Garafalo) and a local nurse (Jenna Elfman) are just a way of treading water until he can figure out a way to recapture the love of his former wife (Carrie-Anne Moss).
Opens in Los Angeles.

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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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