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Seven hit foreign films that aren’t getting nominated for an Oscar.

Seven hit foreign films that aren’t getting nominated for an Oscar. (photo)

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In a few hours, the final five nominations for Best Foreign Film are going to be announced. But none of those five — or the nine shortlisted — were submitted on the basis of great success in their home country.

That’s no secret: if box office determined distribution of foreign films in America, we’d all be watching, say, “Vicky the Viking,” a German family comedy about the adorable lil’est Viking and his pals instead of “The White Ribbon.” (Don’t tempt me, really.)

Nonethless, it bears examining seven movies that conquered their domestic box-offices without making a dent here, with the Academy or otherwise.

02022010_fossevoce.jpg“Se Eu Fosse Você 2,” Brazil

This translates as “If I Were You 2,” a sequel to a hit comedy about a squabbling husband and wife who switch bodies. It was subsequently outgrossed by “Avatar” and the inevitable “Ice Age 3,” which meant Fox — also a distributor on this — had a very good year. In this movie, the husband and wife switch bodies again, which apparently leads to hilarious jokes about the guy having to sit down when he goes to the bathroom. Say what you want about mainstream American film comedy: at least our big hits no longer milk the old straight-man-acting-flamboyantly-gay gag.

02022010_rooperi.jpg“Rööperi,” Finland

Coming in behind “Avatar,” “Ice Age 3” and “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,” “Rööperi” is described by one IMDB user as the Finnish equivalent of “Goodfellas” (back of the line, behind all the other contenders), which kind of makes me want to see it. You have to wonder what nearly two-and-half-hours of garish evocations of the ’60s Finnish hard liquor market is like, domestic soundtrack and all. As IMDB user “aku_rouhiainen” notes, “the Movie started to feel boring after 30-60 minutes, but it was still ‘watchable’ and the actors didn’t grown up while the movie ANY!!! They looked just same all the time.” Sold.

02022010_madeinhungary.jpg“Made in Hungária,” Hungary

Here, we know Hungary best as the home of Béla Tarr and similarly severe auteurs. This, of course, is not what the Hungarian audience watches. The highest-grossing Hungarian film of 2009 was this peppy musical about a Hungarian youth returning from abroad with his Jerry Lee Lewis records, who promptly introduces the kids to duck’s-ass haircuts vaguely anti-Communist sentiments. I have no idea why this hasn’t been released here: the older component Landmark Theatres crowd would probably love to see early ’60s rock, youth and innocence in a foreign tongue.

02022010_youchanged.jpg“You Changed My Life,” Philippines

“You Changed My Life” is the sequel to “A Very Special Love” by the prolific Cathy Garcia-Molina, who’s apparently conquered the Filipino rom-com market with a slew of indelibly titled movies: “Bcuz of U,” “Close To You,” “You Are The One,” “You Got Me!,” “One More Chance,” “My Only U.” The trailer before is for “A Very Special Love,” which looks incredibly generic but is kind of funny. I’m mostly including this because in reading up on the film, I discovered the useful Filipino term “kilig,” a neat, two-syllable encapsulation of all that giddy, butterflies-in-stomach mythology romcoms sweat so much to produce naturally. I’m glad I learned it and would like to invite you to introduce it into our vernacular.

02022010_inhabited.jpg“The Inhabited Island,” Russia

The Strugatsky brothers are arguably Russia’s best-known science-fiction writers: Tarkosvky filmed one of their novels as “Stalker,” Alexander Sokurov made a typically impenetrable movie “inspired” by them, and James Cameron was accused of plagiarizing them for Avatar. An adaptation of their “The Inhabited Island” was the most expensive Russian production yet at $36.6 but failed to make back the budget; still, it made more money than any Russian film last year (though Part II only grossed less than a third of the first installment, so audiences apparently caught on). The plot is some kind of gibberish about a heroic 20something on an alien planet leading a revolt against tyrants; summary is here.

02022010_bangkoktraffic.jpg“Bangkok Traffic Love Story,” Thailand

According to its valiant struggle of a Wikipedia summary, “Bangkok Traffic Love Story” is apparently less schizoid than the trailer below, which veers from frantic farce about a woman drinking too much to recapping pretty much all the film save the final reconciliation. Thailand’s film industry is in good shape at the domestic box office; “Bangkok” came in 4th for the year and decimated “This Is It” during an opening-weekend stand-off. I’m intrigued by Wikipedia’s suggestion it’s the first Thai movie to really cater to the young single female urbanite crowd so frequently targeted here; apparently it struck quite a nerve.

02022010_recep.jpg“Recep Ivedik 2,” Turkey

According to IMDB user “skipper65,” the character Recep Ivedik “represents a typical opportunist, selfish, arrogant, insensitive, annoying urban character. In an ordinary day in Istanbul you see such characters in the form of a lady driving a jeep while using her cell phone and violating traffic rules and putting others in danger.” The movie made a great deal of money, but 2/3 of the IMDb comments are virulently negative: “sinekritik” says “early all jokes are based on swearing and the movie has no storyline.” Based on the trailer, this really is some “Borat” type territory, only a lot, lot ruder: in the first 30 seconds, Recep pants a guy on the street, beats a grocery store manager with leeks and throws a pizza in someone’s face. It looks at least as good as “Step Brothers.”

[Photos: “Wickie und die starken Männer,” Constantin Film Verleih, 2009; “Se Eu Fosse Você 2,” Fox Filmes do Brasil, 2009; “Rööperi,” Nordisk Film Theatrical Distribution, 2009; “Made in Hungária,” Budapest Film, 2009; “You Changed My Life,” Star Cinema Productions, 2009; “The Inhabited Island,” Art Pictures Studio/Non-Stop Productions/STS, 2009; “Bangkok Traffic Love Story,” GTH, 2009; “Recep Ivedik 2,” Özen Film, 2009.]

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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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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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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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.

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