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Not Another Teen Movie

Not Another Teen Movie (photo)

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It’s tough being a teenage girl. Especially when enduring and hopefully, when you can, enjoying, that breakthrough age of 15. A lot happens when you’re 15. Though some girls float through adolescence with a winsome (or conceited) confidence — soaking in and gaining assurance from their protected status as daddy’s little princesses; or benefiting from strong, supportive mothers, those not blessed with such luxuries — and having two parents like that is a luxury; it shouldn’t be, but it is — find themselves stomping and scraping and screaming through youth with a special kind of Napoleon complex that only female teens and Joe Pesci possess.

Teenage girls, from intelligent young lasses rolling their eyes through AP English to those rampaging their way through baby burlesque episodes of Maury Povich, are constantly enduring life’s “Get your shine-box” indignities — even if they can’t properly articulate what those indignities are. They just know they don’t like them. As in, they don’t like how you’re eye-balling them. They don’t like your passive-aggressive insulting missives. They don’t like your aggressive-aggressive insulting missives. And they especially don’t like your fucking tone. “You don’t know me! You don’t know me!” they proclaim, pugnaciously echoing the query: “Am I here to amuse you?”

Such is the case with 15-year-old Mia (Katie Jarvis) in Andrea Arnold’s “Fish Tank” (her second picture after the impressive “Red Road”) — a rough, yet sensitive kitchen sink drama that finds our young heroine stuck in the British projects, clomping through its ugliness with a touching mixture of righteous indignation and moist-eyed vulnerability.

01212010_FishTank5.jpgShe’s 15, so playing tough girl is still a form of playing. She and her little sister exchange pleasantries like “fuck face” and “cunt bucket” (which actually made me laugh out loud from its easy honesty — a pre-teen girl casually declaring her sister the c-word, my goodness), and yet she’s not playing: Mia’s surroundings are making her grow up, harder and faster and with an enormous chip on her shoulder. She has little power in the world save for her youth and vigor and spunk and, as is often the case with teenage girls, her blossoming sexuality — a beautiful thing and yet something that will cause confusion and pain. When a group of guys roughhouse Mia, grabbing and holding her with the intent of possible violation, she kicks and screams and valiantly runs away. It’s a wonderful scene watching Mia refuse to be victimized, but then the shot of her fleeing so quickly and breathing so hard reveals her fear — and that’s both sad and supremely touching. She’s still a kid. And again, it’s damn hard for a teenage girl.

A lone wolf, Mia is clearly intelligent, but probably doesn’t know just how smart she is. When watching a small group of scantily clad teen girls engaging in an overtly sexual dance routine, she looks at their attempts to emulate the Beyoncé, Britney, Christina, Pussycat Doll ideal with bemused disgust. To Mia, this isn’t dancing and she informs the belly-pierced clan flat-out: they suck. It’s a telling moment that Mia, who loves to dance, would not only hold some standards regarding their rehearsal, but be both threatened and repulsed by the girl’s sexual movements. This kind of overt sexuality is going to serve an important, thrilling, but frequently annoying role in her life, and especially with her dreams of dancing (as a later scene in a strip club will show). You get the sense that this is all washing over her as she observes the girls, and so after they charge back at her with that patent and tired insult between girls (she’s ugly), Mia pulls out the Pesci and head-butts one of them.

In another movie, this moment might inspire an “Oh, hell yes!” with the audience. But Arnold isn’t that simplistic. It’s a funny and scary moment, but also a little tragic — especially when we see where some of this aggression and abuse has come from — her terrible mother.

01212010_FishTank3.jpgThat’s blonde sexpot and perpetual loser Joanne (Kierston Wareing), a young mother who drinks too much, screams at her little girls too much, and leaves them to their own devices. They imbibe, they smoke, they swear – she seems oblivious to it all. Home is one long bitchfest, with mom and little sis, Tyler (an impressive Rebecca Griffiths), so Mia finds escape in a lonely apartment building, drinking and hip hop dancing to rap music.

The household dynamic changes significantly when Mom gets a new boyfriend. That’s the handsome, charming Connor (an extraordinary Michael Fassbender), who cares more about the girls than Mom does. He takes them fishing, he carries them to bed, and he encourages Mia’s dancing, even introducing her to the sounds of James Brown and most especially Bobby Womack’s gorgeously heart-rending version of “California Dreamin'” (he has good taste), and letting her borrow a video camera to record one of her routines. He also finds himself attracted to her, but you’re not certain at first. Mia is clearly smitten with Connor, and as she watches him make love to her mother through a half-open door, she’s curious and probably jealous. This guy may be the only positive paternal influence she’s had, but it’s mixed up in heated sexual desire. She wants him. And, in a shocking, but bravely erotic scene, he wants her — and they do something about it.

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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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