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DID YOU READ

Highlights from Michael Madsen’s magical 2009.

Highlights from Michael Madsen’s magical 2009. (photo)

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There’s a hilarious account in the Guardian of everything went wrong during the shooting of “The Big I Am,” an upcoming British gangster drama.

The best parts involve one of its big name stars, Michael Madsen, who arrived “insisting all costume department mannequins be turned to the wall lest he be spooked by the wigs,” then refused to do his big death scene properly. Instead, he “made up a poem… about the nature of true love,” sang “Green, Green Grass of Home” on the next take, and on the final take screamed into the camera “Am I fucking dead enough for you now?”

Ever wonder what happened to Madsen since his critically acclaimed comeback turn in the “Kill Bill”? Well, a man can’t collect too many paychecks, especially if he’s not picky about where the funds are coming from — IMDb lists a staggering 18 credits from this year alone. Here are seven of my favorites from Madsen’s 2009.

12092009_lostinthewoods4.jpg“Lost In The Woods”
Michael Madsen is… Stuart Bunka
Tagline: “Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Back In The Forest!”
Plot: Seemingly inspired by Barry Levinson’s 1992 flop “Toys,” this family film stars Madsen as the self-proclaimed “greatest toymaker in the world.” His key invention: “The Facilitator,” which apparently includes miniature grenade launchers and little UFOs that place exploding cigars in the mouths of your opponents. When his daughter is kidnapped and the criminals demand two million dollars for her release, some kids wage war against the “Home Alone”-dumb criminals, presumably using Bunka toys. Also, laxatives lead a kidnapper looking for relief to get bit in the ass by a snake. And they put fireworks in the bad guy’s pants.
Key Madsen Line: “No matter who your enemies are or what the odds against you, with the Facilitator you’re gonna win or I’m not Stuart Bunka. Bunka Toys.”

12092009_mightaswelllive4.jpg“You Might As Well Live”
Michael Madsen is… Clinton Manitoba
Tagline: “Robert Mutt is not a douche bag.”
Plot: Robert Mutt (Joshua Peace) has tried to kill himself multiple times and leaves the mental asylum after beating his doctor at air hockey. The community thinks he’s a pedophile and loser, so he sets out to prove himself with help from his hallucinated friend, Clinton Manitoba, former farm-league baseball great. A Canadian comedy that was well-reviewed in Canada, this one seems to drink heavily from the “Napoleon Dynamite” well.
Key Madsen Line: “Fuck the internet.” Response: “Right in the face.”

12092009_thekillingjar4.jpg“The Killing Jar”
Michael Madsen is… Doe
Tagline: N/A
Plot: Sheriff, ominously: “There’s been some murders over in Union County.” Waitress: “What kind of person kills a child?” Enter Madsen, who takes the diner’s occupants hostage and begins getting some seriously violent action going, shooting folks point blank with deer-killing-caliber bullets. His hostages, incidentally, include some serious direct-to-video bait: Danny Trejo (who deserves better) and Jake “son of Gary” Busey (who doesn’t). This is one of like 30 movies starring Madsen as a raspy-voiced psychopath, and certainly not the last on this list; it’s what he does best.
Key Madsen Line: “You’ve got to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

12092009_theportal4.jpg“The Portal”
Michael Madsen is… Dr. Azirra
Tagline: “Dare to face your inner child…”
Plot: A super-evil painting isn’t just bad abstract art but the portal to another world, where couples make out against floaty blue-screened cosmoses and from which emerge spooky, flaxen-haired children who giggle innocently before turning into cheap-looking, gray-skinned demons. This generic horror trailer could pass for just another J-horror rip-off until the minute mark, at which point screaming zombie types emerge, blood flows down toilet-stall walls and amputations ensue. It’s kind of unbelievable how much blood is just casually flowing around; this is worth a NSFW look. Madsen seems to be playing the skeptical doctor investigating.
Key Madsen Line: “A portal. You really expect me to believe that?”

12092009_outrage4.jpg“Outrage”
Michael Madsen is… Farragute
Tagline: N/A
Plot: A Christian woman and her puddle-jumper plane either crash or are taken down (unclear) by a group of redneck hillbillies (including one deliberately Ted Kaczynski-looking dude) who proceed to get all “The Most Dangerous Game” on them, chasing them through the woods. Madsen isn’t the centerpiece here — that would be the part of the trailer where a dude’s struck by lightening, then there’s a shot of his soul exiting his body. Also, everyone runs around on glorified sit-down lawnmowers, someone gets chopped up by a plane propeller and someone else loses a foot to a bear-trap. Co-starring Natasha Lyonne.
Key Madsen Line: “In this life, you’re either the hunter or the hunted.”

12092009_brazelbull4.jpg“The Brazen Bull”
Michael Madsen is… “The Man”
Tagline: N/A
Plot: You know you’re in good hands from the trailer’s second shot, of Madsen walking up to the camera, cigarette in hand, with someone strapped-down to a rather-unpleasant-looking surgical table in the background. In this slasher-type movie (which Madsen saw fit to produce), folks checking out a property for development quickly realize there’s something wrong (“This wasn’t locked when we came in!”). Yeah it is — for whatever reason, Madsen wants to capture everyone and torture them while lighting his smokes with a blowtorch. Fair enough.
Key Madsen Line: “Pain. Is truth.”

12092009_thebleeding4.jpg“The Bleeding”
Michael Madsen is… Father Roy
Tagline: N/A
Plot: Somehing about evil vampires who want to destroy the world; Shawn Black (Matthew Matthias) isn’t going to let that happen. Getting his spiritual/tactical back is Madsen as the kind of priest who seems a bit more fixated on firearms and booze than your average clergymen. Co-stars: Vinnie Jones, Armand Assante, DMX, Kat von D.
Key Madsen Line: “What I do think [takes a sip of beer] is that you’re the kind of guy who only shows up when the shit’s about to hit the fan.”

[Top photo: Madsen in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” Miramax, 2004]

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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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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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GIFs via Giphy

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.

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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.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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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 IFC.com 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….

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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.

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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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