This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


What’s worrying about the upcoming MLK biopic.

What’s worrying about the upcoming MLK biopic. (photo)

Posted by on

If you ignore Massachusetts and focus on film, today is a-buzz with the news that “(500) Days of Summer” director Marc Webb has been hired to direct three films in the rebooted “Spider-Man” franchise. Also in the works — a quieter announcement that Ronald Harwood is stepping up to write the long-gestating MLK biopic — “the first theatrical feature to be authorised by The King Estate to use the intellectual property of the late Civil Rights leader.”

According to Mark Sourian and Holly Bario of DreamWorks, Harwood is “particularly suited to portraying this deeply personal story.” But what the hell does that mean? What specifically qualifies a Jewish immigrant from South Africa who’s spent most of his life in the United Kingdom to write a film about Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Looking at his resume, certain patterns emerge. From 1981 onwards, Harwood’s screenwriting work (I’m unqualified to evaluate his ongoing stage output) is a perfect storm of movies that attract adjectives like “important” and “powerful” the way a magnet attracts iron filings.

In the ’60s, Harwood started with frothy adaptations like 1966’s “Drop Dead Darling” (starring Tony Curtis and Zsa Zsa Gabor!). In the less prolific ’70s, you could see Important Movie danger signs in a little-loved adaptation of “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” but it wasn’t until 1981 that Harwood truly hit his stride. It was that year that someone decided Faye Dunaway would make a perfect Evita Peron; Harwood did the mini-series honors, and ever since then — with very few exceptions — he’s been grinding out titles that assume important subject matter makes for important movies.

01202010_evita.jpgThere are the films about Great Men (Danny Glover as Mandela, the sterile “The Pianist”), Serious Subjects (apartheid in “Cry, The Beloved Country,” hunting Nazi war criminals in “The Statement”) and Classic Literature (adaptations of “Oliver Twist” and “Love In The Time of Cholera”). Many of these movies were tepidly reviewed and forgotten, but a few — “The Pianist” (which had the boost of Polanski’s autobiographical involvement), “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” — bamboozled a lot of people into thinking they were any good, maybe even great. I’d argue they’re not — they’re stodgy and unimaginative, filled with expository dialogue and heavy-handed thematics.

You may disagree, you may think I’m a total snob, but the question still stands. Who is this man who’s made a career of flatten history into tales of Good vs. Evil or a Triumph of the Human Spirit? When Harwood took on Mandela in 1987, he valorized the controversial Winnie Mandela. That’s not just a failure of research; it shows that Harwood’s approach to the world is fundamentally inadequate, the most basic kind of biopic blandness.

Here’s the first part of Harwood’s take on Evita Peron, with Dunaway in full carnivore mood.

[Photos: MLK via Library of Congress; “Evita Peron,” NBC, 1981]

Watch More

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

Posted by on
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…

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