This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


Why “The Hurt Locker” isn’t hurting for awards.

Why “The Hurt Locker” isn’t hurting for awards. (photo)

Posted by on

Our long, slow death march through awards season continues with this morning’s Golden Globe nominations, which delivered nothing unexpected. All our familiar friends — “Precious,” “Up In The Air,” Jeff Bridges, Christoph Waltz et al. — are present and accounted for.

Notable “snubs” (I suppose) include not nominating Lee Daniels, Carey Milligan for her much-praised turn in “An Education,” and, uh, Abbie Cornish for “Bright Star” (that last one’s kind of a stretch, but I guess some people believe anything).

The biggest snub, though, is Jeremy Renner for “The Hurt Locker,” which otherwise got the three big nominations it needs to keep it moving through trophy season: Best Picture/Director/Screenplay. Odd, since it was agreed upon in pretty much every review that Renner gave a break-out turn as Sergeant First Class William James, expert bomb defuser and rock star of the battlefield. And Renner is, indeed, excellent: innocuous-looking but freakishly relaxed in the tensest of situations, taut when it’s unnecessary.

But what is it with this movie and its near-universal critical acclaim? (Check out this awards scoreboard, in which its status as critics’ circle darling is fleshed out.) It’s one compulsively entertaining and watchable film, but — at least from where I’m sitting — it has some serious, far from negligible missteps, most notably (MAJOR SPOILERS) a willingness to not just kill kids for gut-level impact but to do so in the most graphic way possible, not to mention Renner’s abysmal, unsalvagable final monologue — delivered to a baby, no less — where he explains exactly what he’s about, making the perfectly obvious explicit. He likes adrenaline! He likes thrills!

Admittedly, I’m way in the critical minority here, and “Hurt Locker”‘s highbrow/middlebrow critical consensus has been remarkable and overwhelming. It’s striking that many of the high-profile reviews — David Denby, Scott Foundas, Lisa Schwarzbaum, A.O. Scott, Kenneth Turan — all insisted rather over-loudly on two key points:

One: This is a kick-ass action movie you should see for the visceral thrills as much as anything else (“If ‘The Hurt Locker’ is not the best action movie of the summer, I’ll blow up my car.” — A.O. Scott).

Two: This is the best film about the war in Iraq yet (“will be studied twenty years from now when people want to understand something of what happened to American soldiers in Iraq” —David Denby), which means it’s the first good one of the bunch, so you shouldn’t be wary of seeing it.

12152009_hurtlocker6.jpgThere was also an insistence that the film was both non-ideological while somehow giving the “truth” about the war and — more compellingly — many, many commendations of Bigelow for delivering a spatially coherent action movie that didn’t go all cubist-blender-Michael Bay and stuff.

My thinking isn’t that the impeccable action groove validated endorsing an Iraq film, finally, but rather the other way around: grave subject matter elevated the lowly action movie to critical godhood. Critics love to give lip service to well-crafted action movies, but they can rarely place them at the top of their lists: there’s a mental block there leftover from the ’50s or something.

“The Hurt Locker” is action par excellence, but it’s Iraq action, which has safely brought it to the critical forefront. Personally, I think “Near Dark” is better, but it’s about vampires. This is about The War We’re In — it’s an action movie you don’t have to feel guilty for thinking is the best of the year. Whatever. If this is what awards bait looks like in 2009, I can totally live with that.

[Photos: “The Hurt Locker,” Summit Entertainment, 2009]

Watch More

A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

Posted by on
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.

Watch More

WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

Posted by on

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

Watch More

Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

Posted by on
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.


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.

Watch More