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Your Holiday Indie Film Preview

Your Holiday Indie Film Preview (photo)

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2009 is about to end with a bang, though probably not the apocalyptic kind predicted in the long-awaited adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” or Chris Smith’s terrifying doc “Collapse,” though those will both be playing at your local arthouse. Instead, audiences will be able to enjoy a winter of wildly different indie film offerings to reflect the wildly different tastes of moviegoers as we leave one decade and move into another. (There are also many different ways to watch them, as you can tell from our Anywhere But a Movie Theater section.)

From November through January, there will be musicals (“Nine”), comedies (Broken Lizard’s “The Slammin’ Salmon”) and stop-motion animated wonderments (“A Town Called Panic”) to entertain and new films from Michael Haneke, Pedro Almodóvar, Richard Linklater, Terry Gilliam and Werner Herzog to ponder. And if new movies aren’t necessarily doing the trick, you can always cozy up in your local repertory theater during the cold winter. Either way, there will be plenty of cinema to light up this holiday season.

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Week Ending November 6

Precious

“Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ By Sapphire”

The Cast: Gabourey Sidibe, Paula Patton, Mo’Nique, Mariah Carey, Sherri Shepherd, Lenny Kravitz
Director: Lee Daniels
Fest Cred: Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, Deauville, San Sebastián, New York
The Gist: It’s been a long road for Lee Daniels, but after producing such films as “Monster’s Ball” and making his directorial debut on the much-maligned “Shadowboxer,” the multihyphenate is enjoying the best reviews of his career for this searing drama about an overweight teen who attempts to change the course of her life after getting pregnant with a second child by her father. Besides the endorsement of executive producers Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey, the film picked up audience awards at Sundance and Toronto and if Matt Singer is to be believed, co-star Mo’Nique, who plays Precious’ abusive mother, is a “mortal lock for an Oscar nomination.”

“Collapse”
Director: Chris Smith
Fest Cred: Toronto
The Gist: Billed as a bit of a breakthrough since it was picked up for a concurrent theatrical and VOD release so soon after its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, Chris Smith’s latest doc is far scarier than anything in his making-of-a-horror-film chronicle “American Movie.” Smith sits down with a former police officer named Michael Ruppert, who spends the next 82 minutes detailing the interconnected breakdown of the world’s economy and destruction of the environment, the product of a lifelong pursuit that may have resulted in collateral damage to his own life.

“La Danse: The Paris Ballet Opera”
Director: Frederick Wiseman
Fest Cred: Toronto, London
The Gist: Legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman (“Titicut Follies”) turns his camera towards the Paris Opera Ballet, taking as much pleasure in documenting the artistry of the dancers as the delicate dance the Ballet’s administration must do in fundraising to finance their season. The film gives an insider’s peek at the production of seven ballets including Wayne McGregor’s “Genus,” Angelin Preljocaj’s “Le Songe de Medée,” Mats Ek’s “La Maison de Bernarda,” Pierre Lacotte’s “Paquita,” Rudolph Noureev’s “Casse Noisette,” Pina Bausch’s “Orphée and Eurydice,” and Sasha Waltz’s “Romeo and Juliette.”

“Endgame”
The Cast: William Hurt, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Jonny Lee Miller, Mark Strong, Derek Jacobi
Director: Pete Travis
Fest Cred: Sundance
The Gist: Based on Robert Harvey’s “The Fall of Apartheid,” this true-life drama stars Ejiofor as African National Congress leader Thabo Mbeki and Hurt as philosophy professor Willie Esterhuyse, two men whose unexpected bond helped forge a truce during secret talks that led to the end of apartheid in South Africa.

“French Gigolo”
The Cast: Nathalie Baye, Eric Caravaca, Isabelle Carré, Josiane Balasko
Writer/Director: Josiane Balasko
Fest Cred: Sundance, Rome, Seattle
The Gist: “French Twist” director Balasko continues her fascination with relationships between men and women with this comedy about a middle-aged woman (Baye) who hires gigolos to satisfy her carnal needs, but develops a different kind of relationship with her new escort Patrick (Caravaca), a part-timer whose wife gets jealous when she discovers how exactly he’s supporting her new hair salon endeavor.

“Humble Pie”
The Cast: Hubbel Palmer, William Baldwin, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kathleen Quinlan, Bruce McGill, Vincent Caso, Rae Ritke
Director: Chris Bowman
Fest Cred: Slamdance, U.S. Comedy Arts, AFI Dallas, Starz Denver, Bend
The Gist: After kicking around the festival circuit since 2007 under the title “American Fork,” first-time feature director Bowman takes the reins of this comedy that features writer/star Hubbel Palmer as an overweight Midwesterner who divides his free time between writing poetry and studying acting with an arrogant has-been (Baldwin) when he isn’t working at the local supermarket. The latest from “Napoleon Dynamite” producer Jeremy Coon will open in Portland, Oregon before a December 4th release in Denver.

“The Men Who Stare At Goats”
The Cast: George Clooney, Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Spacey, Stephen Lang
Director: Grant Heslov
Fest Cred: Venice, Toronto, Fantastic Fest
The Gist: Those who have been waiting to see the return of Jeff Bridges in a “Big Lebowski”-esque free spirit vein won’t be disappointed (though others might be) by this “more true than you’d like to believe” story about a U.S. military unit dedicated to the research of paranormal and psychic powers. McGregor anchors Grant Heslov’s directorial debut as a journalist who accompanies one of the unit’s former members (Clooney) in a drive across Kuwait.

“Splinterheads”
The Cast: Thomas Middleditch, Rachael Taylor, Christopher McDonald, Lea Thompson, Dean Winters, Frankie Faison
Writer/Director: Brant Sersen
Fest Cred: SXSW, Oxford, Woodstock, New Hampshire
The Gist: The title of “Blackballed: The Bobby Dukes Story” director Sersen’s second feature refers to a small-time con artist (Taylor) who ensnares the affections of a aimless twentysomething (Middleditch) when her carnival comes to town, though he’s the one who is forced to get crafty when her aggressive ex-boyfriend (Winters) and the local policeman (McDonald) get in the way of their burgeoning romance.

“That Evening Sun”
The Cast: Hal Holbrook, Ray McKinnon, Walton Goggins, Mia Wasikowska, Carrie Preston, Barry Corbin, Dixie Carter
Writer/Director: Scott Teems
Fest Cred: SXSW, Nashville, Little Rock, Sarasota, Atlanta
The Gist: Teems’ directorial debut was the hit of SXSW when it premiered in Austin, with many buzzing about the performance of 82-year-old Hal Holbrook as a Tennessee farmer who returns from an unpleasant stay at a nursing home to his farm and finds that his so (Goggins) has leased the land to a ne’er do well (McKinnon) who is trying to get his life together.

“Turning Green”
The Cast: Timothy Hutton, Alessandro Nivola, Colm Meaney, Donal Gallery
Writer/Directors: Michael Aimette & John G. Hofmann
Fest Cred: CineVegas, Newport Beach
The Gist: Why distributor New Films International ditched this dramedy’s original tagline — “The story of a boy, a country, and a box of porn” — for a much more solemn ad campaign fronted by a desperate looking Hutton and a concerned Fiennes and Nivola is a mystery, but not nearly as much as why it took four years for first-time writer/directors Aimette and Hofmann to find a distributor for their film about a 16-year-old American ex-pat who seeks to finance his escape from Ireland by selling adult mags, though the local hoods (Hutton and Nivola) take notice and want in on the action.

“Victory Day”
The Cast: Sean Ramsay, Natalie Shiyanova, Milan Kolik,
Director: Sean Ramsay
The Gist: A triple threat as a writer, director and star, Sean Ramsay puts his dukes up to play a “firebrand journalist with a short fuse” who travels to Prague to take down a Russian oligarch (Kolik), accompanied by a prostitute he rescues from sex slave traffickers (Shiyanova).

“You Cannot Start Without Me”
Director: Allan Miller
The Gist: Appropriately enough, Symphony Space in New York will give a theatrical run to this doc that follows a year in the life of conductor Valery Gergiev, the current director of the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg as he jumps around the globe to London and New York, preparing for concerts from the rehearsal process to performance.

Continue to November 13th »

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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.

via GIPHY

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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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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