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The Unbearable Rambo-ness of Being

The Unbearable Rambo-ness of Being (photo)

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     God didn’t make Rambo; I made him!

In the ’80s, Americans found a new brand of movie hero that corresponded precisely with Reagan-era conservative values. Ripped, vengeful and violent, action stars like Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mel Gibson and a beefed-up Bruce Willis helped reestablish myths of rugged individualism, militarism and machismo through an awesome display of fire power and pectoral muscles.

The bang-bang decade that saw the releases of “First Blood,” “Die Hard,” “Lethal Weapon,” “The Terminator,” “Robocop,” “Top Gun,” “Batman,” “Predator” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” may seem like a distant memory in these leaner Obama days. But the superheroic display of tough guys wreaking havoc continues to have resonance — particularly for the legions of boys whose impressionable minds were shaped by the time, and who are now, some 25 years later, playing out those fantasies once again on screens (with a limited budget).

01072010_SonofRambow.jpgThe story of “Rambo” alone has spawned two recent indie film retellings. In 37-year-old UK director Garth Jennings’ 2007 “Son of Rambow,” two British lads attempt to remake “First Blood” in their neighborhood with a home video camera. And while “Son of Rambow” largely plays its action movie references for laughs, New York theater maven-turned-filmmaker Zachary Oberzan’s no-budget “Flooding with Love for the Kid” (playing at New York’s Anthology Film Archives this week) seems more emblematic of fan fiction. Made by himself in his 220 square foot New York apartment, the movie is a fascinating, self-serious, artisanal reclamation of its source material.

While many fan films are parodies, others pay homage to the original texts — as was the case with “Raiders: The Adaptation,” the shot-for-shot remake of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” made, over the course of several years, by two Mississippi kids in the ’80s. The video-clerk-homemade films in Michel Gondry’s 2008 “Be Kind Rewind” — “sweded” takes on such era hits as “Ghostbusters,” “RoboCop” and “Back to the Future” — draw laughter, but not because Gondry is making fun of them. The film’s protagonist, a movie-mad Jack Black, never takes his amateur filmmaking less than seriously. For him, and his community, remaking the movies is a deeply personal act of re-appropriation.

Most of the time, this process of video-made reverence goes hand in hand with reliving the filmmakers’ youthful obsessions. Jack Marshall, a director and executive producer on the fan-series “Star Trek: New Voyages,” explained during a 2005 podcast about their productions, “For people who grew up with that series, the overwhelming sense of childhood that washes over you when you walk onto that set, it’s amazing. It’s like going to the home that you grew up in,” he continued. “Everything is familiar; everything is in its place.”

01072010_FloodedWithLove4.jpgZachary Oberzan’s return to Rambo as a 35-year-old man also stems from childhood first impressions and a sense of nostalgia. “I was 9 or 10 years old,” recalls Oberzan, about the first time he saw “First Blood,” Ted Kotcheff’s 1982 adaptation of David Morrell’s novel about a mistreated Vietnam vet. “I remember staying up late at night to watch it, and I was very taken by the film, as many young boys were, for a variety of reasons: it’s about being falsely accused, rebelling against authority and the incredible resourcefulness and this superhuman ability to survive.”

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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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