Coming to you from the 2010 SXSW Film Festival, this week’s IFC News podcast tackles such pressing topics as: Does “Kick-Ass” indeed kick ass? Can “Cyrus” bring new life to classic rom-com ideas? How do the members of the close-knit Austin filmmaking community manage to act in and crew each other’s projects while also finishing their own? Do “Cold Weather” and “NY Export: Opus Jazz” make the case that indie films can look amazing even on a budget? And when is Matt going to drink that bowl of queso?
There’s a movie for every holiday (well, maybe not Arbor Day), but Thanksgiving has more than its share. There’s something about a family coming together around an overloaded table that makes for gripping drama and hilarious comedy. Before you tuck into IFC’s Sweatsgiving marathon weekend, take a look at our picks for the best Turkey Day movies of all time. They’re far tastier than Aunt Bertha’s leftover three-bean casserole.
This ultra low-budget horror comedy about a killer Turkey is the perfect NSFW antidote to heartwarming holiday treacle. Fans of the film’s so-bad-its-good charms helped Kickstart a sequel, ThanksKilling 3. What happened to ThanksKilling 2? Guess the killer turkey ate the print.
9. The Ice Storm
Key parties, family secrets and Nixon masks all converge in one particularly eventful Thanksgiving weekend in Ang Lee’s searing look at dysfunctional families in the turbulent days of the early ’70s. And you thought your post-dinner family games of Trivial Pursuit were tense.
8. Pieces of April
Katie Holmes broke free from her teen drama roots with this indie flick about a young urban misfit who invites her straight-laced suburban family to a big city Thanksgiving dinner. An underrated comedy about the importance of families (be they urban or biological) that also answers the age-old holiday question: canned or fresh cranberry sauce?
What is it with Thanksgiving and quasi-incest comedies? 2002’s Tadpole tells the tale of Oscar Grubman, a hyper-intelligent high school boy who has a crippling crush on his stepmother. When he goes home for Thanksgiving, this Oedipal nightmare gets transferred onto a horny cougar chiropractor, and things rapidly spin out of control. A general rule of thumb for the holidays: keep it in your pants, particularly when family is involved.
6. Scent Of A Woman
Al Pacino comes dangerously close to the edge of self-parody in his iconic role as blind ex-Army Ranger Frank Slade, but also scored a Best Actor win in the process. Chris O’Donnell plays the college student who is hired to take care of Slade over Thanksgiving break and finds himself dragged along on an adventure that includes a stop by his brother’s house for a Turkey Day dinner that goes wildly out of control. Hoo-hah! Pass the gravy.
5. The House Of Yes
This psychologically twisted 1997 black comedy helped make Parker Posey a star. She plays “Jackie-O” Pascal, a mentally disturbed young woman who joins her family at their ritzy Virginia estate for Thanksgiving. As a hurricane bears down on the area, Jackie proceeds to go further and further off the rails, capped off by an incestuous encounter with her own brother while they role-play the JFK assassination. With a strong cast and a wickedly sharp script, The House of Yes goes down like a slice of pumpkin pie with a whiskey chaser.
4. The War At Home
This underrated 1996 drama tackled some pretty tough subjects. Jeremy Collier (played by Emilio Estevez, who also directed) is a Vietnam vet back home and dealing with PTSD. Martin Sheen plays his dad, who doesn’t understand that his son came back a little changed. It all comes to a head at the family’s Thanksgiving dinner, where Jeremy pulls a gun on his dad because he wouldn’t loan him the cash he needed to flee the draft. The fact that Estevez and Sheen are father and son in real life only adds to the film’s dramatic tension.
3. Home for the Holidays
Few films capture the mix of dysfunction and warmth that comes with Thanksgiving better than Jodie Foster’s 1995 comedy. Holly Hunter and Robert Downey, Jr. are perfectly cast as a brother and sister weathering uptight siblings, kooky aunts and other family drama with sharp humor and lump-in-your throat tearful moments. We’re not crying. Mom must be cooking her famous onion soup.
2. Hannah and Her Sisters
Widely considered one of the best films in Woody Allen’s vast filmography, Hannah and Her Sisters charts the lives of three very different sisters over the course of three separate Thanksgivings. The holiday serves as a backdrop that reminds us of the ties that bind and also tear us down.
1. Planes, Trains And Automobiles
No movie captures the ups and downs of Thanksgiving quite like this John Hughes classic. Steve Martin plays Neal Page, a high-strung marketing suit who gets paired with John Candy’s slobby salesman Del Griffith as they both try to get back to Chicago in time for the holiday. Hughes was a master of tapping into some very American emotions, and the movie’s climax — where (spoiler alert!) Neal realizes Del has nowhere to go and invites him to come to dinner with his family — is a touching moment that in lesser hands would come off as maudlin.
Over the years, the cast of The Sopranos has popped up in a variety of other shows and movies, always bringing some edge. It’s no surprise that even in comedies, Soprano cast cameos come with a lot of NSFW caveats. Even in kids movies, you can tell they’re fighting to keep the F-bombs from rolling. In honor of Steve “Bobby Bacala” Schirripa shaking down the guys on Benders this week, hereare a few of the funniest cameos from The Sopranos cast.
10. Tony Sirico, Family Guy
Paulie Walnuts himself finally got to teach Stewie some respect, as the voice of the Griffin’s new dog on Family Guy.
9. Vincent Pastore, Pepsi Ad
Pastore acts like a big, well, pussycat when he comes face to face with a tough little girl in this spot for Pepsi from his Sopranos heyday.
8. Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Real Housewives of New Jersey Spoof
Sigler was perfectly cast in a Funny or Die spoof of the Bravo show that owes a lot to The Sopranos.
7. Michael Imperioli, The Office
Dwight Schrute finally received his black belt from a new sensei during the last season of The Office. And when you think karate, the first person that always comes to mind is Michael Imperioli.
6. Drea de Matteo, Conan
De Matteo proves even her insecurities can be funny, copping to a whopper of a lie to get out of a guest spot back during Conan’s late night days.
5. Joe Pantoliano, The Simpsons
Joey Pants and Michael Imperioli voiced gangsters in a 2006 episode that spoofed The Sopranos, The Godfather, and pretty much every other aspect of mafia culture.
4. Steven Schirripa, Benders
It’s hardly surprising that Schirripa turns up in comedies from time to time, after years spent on the standup circuit. You can catch him on this week’s brand-new Benders as a tough guy shaking down the Uncle Chubbys boys.
3. Edie Falco, 30 Rock
Falco played Celeste “C.C.” Cunningham, a liberal congresswoman with a dark secret. That secret being she’d fallen for the human avatar of everything she’d spent her life fighting against. But have you seen Jack Donaghy’s hair?
2. James Gandolfini, Letterman Top 10 List
The late, great Gandolfini didn’t make as many cameo appearances as his costars (he was too busy making movies), but he did appear on Letterman with the rest of the Sopranos cast for a fun Top 10 list. Naturally, he came out last to the biggest applause. Tony always gets the number one spot.
1. James Gandolfini Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico and Vincent Curatola, Nicky Deuce
Schirripa actually starred in this kid’s movie, and enlisted a slew of his old Sopranos friends to pop by and put a PG spin on their old act.
A great Halloween episode is like terrific fan fiction. Our beloved characters are thrust into a spooky predicament beyond their normal scope of storylines while wearing garish outfits and fearing for their lives. The annual tradition on-screen is a reflection of the holiday’s appeal in real life: A chance to see the familiar skew towards the garish and macabre.
Fun, scary, and memorable, here are the 10 best Halloween episodes of all time.
10. That ’70s Show, “Halloween”
The siren song of an abandoned building on Halloween lures the That ’70s Show gang to their burned-out grammar school where they discover their old permanent records. Secrets and backstories are revealed, such as Jackie’s middle name, Kelso’s real age, and an act of vandalism committed by a 7-year-old Eric which followed Hyde around his entire life.
9. Freaks and Geeks, “Tricks and Treats”
Expertly capturing the dilemma of kids too old to trick-or-treat but too young for drunken holiday revelry (legally, at least), Freaks and Geeks brings us back to the youthful pursuit of making the most out of Halloween. Wannabe freak Lindsay opts for petty vandalism while Sam and his geeky pals are humiliated by their costumed rounds through the neighborhood. On the plus side, Bill makes a very stately Bionic Woman.
8. Quantum Leap, “The Boogieman”
Leaping into a horror writer’s life in 1964, Sam plays detective as the people around him start dying, Al’s not quite himself, and a goat keeps appearing. The grisly plot culminates to a legitimately unsettling climax that’s as scary as it is funny (seriously, it’s hard to describe) and we find out the neighborhood boy goes on to become somebody very familiar.
7. Cheers, “Bar Wars V: The Final Judgement”
On Halloween, the bar’s longtime rivalry with Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern is curiously called off when Gary reveals his heart can’t take it — literally. But Sam, not buying the medical diagnosis, stages an elaborate (and in reality, logistically impossible) prank involving Carla’s holographic head that may have caused Gary to kick the bucket. (There’s a humorous callback to this episode in the following season’s “Bar Wars” episode.)
6. Amazing Stories, “Mummy Daddy”
Over a decade before Wes Craven upended horror movie tropes with Scream, this episode of the tragically short-lived Steven Spielberg-produced anthology series blurs the line between myth and Hollywood when an actor playing a mummy is pursued by (and mistaken for) an actual mummy. Pure pulp fun if only for the image of a mummy riding horseback.
5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Fear, Itself”
Mixing a little Scarecrow villainry into the Whedonverse, this episode has Buffy and the gang attending a Halloween frat party where a demon that feeds on fear subjects everyone to their greatest nightmares. A delightful writing exercise that exposes each character’s weaknesses and doubts, “Fear, Itself” is prime Buffy entertainment.
4. MacGyver, “Halloween Knights”
Less of an episode of television than a convergence of all things great, MacGyver is coerced into joining forces with longtime nemesis and super-assassin Murdoc when his former hitman employers kidnap his sister and threaten to execute her at a posh Halloween party. Complete with a booby-trapped funhouse and thinly veiled references to Raiders of the Lost Ark, this is hands down one of the greatest episodes from the series.
3. Roseanne, “BOO!”
Kicking off an annual tradition of Halloween with the Conners, “BOO!” from season two of Roseanne showcases the family’s obsession with the holiday and the lengths to which they celebrate it. For a family just scraping by and the viewers who watch them, it’s a cathartic outlet and an excuse to let freak flags fly. And from the first holiday go-around, it’s instantly clear the show will do it again and again.
2. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, “Who Got Dee Pregnant?”
Narrowly edging out season eight’s stellar, McPoyle-infested “Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre,” season six’s “Who Got Dee Pregnant?” represents the very best of the Paddy’s Pub crew. Dee reveals she’s pregnant and the gang engage in drunken flashbacks Rashomon-style to determine who the father could be. Featuring the sexual exploits of the always-awesome Artemis, as well as Frank dressed as the canon-busting Man-Spider, “Who Got Dee Pregnant?” is top-notch.
1. The Simpsons, “Treehouse of Horror V”
Picking your favorite child would be far easier than picking your favorite Simpsons Halloween special — though they tend to be earlier seasons, don’t they? However, “Treehouse of Horror V” from season six is simply too fantastic to be topped. Between the classic Shining parody, Homer’s time-traveling advice from his father on his wedding night, and Groundskeeper Willie constantly getting an axe in the back, you can’t find a better way to ring in October 31st than this half hour.
Coming down off this weekend’s Pixy Stix sugar high? Well, rather than raid your grandkids’ candy sacks for some stray Charleston Chews, tune in to tonight’s all new Gigi Does It at 10:30P ET/PT for enough sweet sass to send you into a diabetic coma. But before you fire up the ol’ Life Alert, here are five ways to get ready for tonight’s episode that will also improve your moves in the boudoir.
1. Relive your crazy Halloween.
Sure, you’ve already rung in All Hallows’ Eve with some petty vandalism and your best Taylor Swift getup. But it’s never too late to break out the spooky ghoul costume and do like Gigi and put that TP in the trees to good, practical use.
2. Try something new in the bedroom.
Every healthy relationship ought to include some variety in the intimacy department, which is why it’s always smart to brush up on what those wild kids are doing in the bedroom these days. (If you’re confused with any of the terms, consult your male nurse.)