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Cannes Review: “Kaboom.”

Cannes Review: “Kaboom.” (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

“It’s nuttier than squirrel shit,” says college student Stella (Haley Bennett) at one point in Gregg Araki’s latest film, “Kaboom,” a back-to-his-roots, candy-colored cult thriller that is best described, in a similar vein, as “totally fucked up.”

Araki’s 1994 movie of that same name as well as the following years’ installments in his “Teen Apocalypse Trilogy” — “The Doom Generation” and “Nowhere” — loom large over “Kaboom,” which follows the sexual exploits and eerie adventures of one perpetually horny film student, the handsome icy blue-eyed gay-inclined Smith (Thomas Dekker).

Set in Southern California’s “College of Creative Arts” — a hyper-stylized campus of black-walled eating halls, blue-lit dorms and postmodern-windowed structures — Smith’s days are filled with pining for his hot, frequently naked and very heterosexual surfer roommate Thor (Chris Zylka) and hanging around with sassy lesbian gal-pal Stella.

One night, they go to a party, where Smith eats some hallucinogenic cookies, and nothing is ever the same: He meets and screws (multiple times) the sprightly London (Juno Temple), and then, while walking back home, is attacked by three men in black wearing animal masks who stab and kill a red-haired female student. Was it just a bad trip, or is something truly horrible going on in Araki-land?

To clear his head, Smith decides to go a nude beach. As narrated in the film, this is actually pretty funny. The story proceeds along lines of alternating scenes of sultry sex and comedy — both gay and straight — and the unfolding of the film’s ominous, though with tongue firmly planted in cheek, conspiracy plot. While Smith tries to track down the real identity of the red-haired victim, Stella finds herself in a heated romance with Lorelei (Roxane Mesquida), a vampy French beauty with supernatural sexual powers.

05142010_ArakiKaboom4.jpgWhen Stella tries to extricate herself from Lorelei, who may be some sort of witch, weirder shit happens — a mix of frights and humor that work sometimes, and even when they don’t, it doesn’t matter much because Araki isn’t taking any of it too seriously. Like some perverse mix of ’30s screwball comedy and po-mo Gen Next webisode, comic zingers and metaphors continuously fly fast out of the character’s mouths: i.e. “as gay as Clay Aiken” and “it’s a vagina, not a bowl of spaghetti.”

So what’s it all about? Araki drops some hints: the Kinsey Scale that suggests sexual definitions are loose; absent fathers; beautiful young bodies having sex; the curious way snacks are let loose from vending machines; the irony of collapsed grand narratives.

For all of “Kaboom”s silliness, it never transcends it. Sure, some of it’s fun, and the way all the plotlines converge in a ludicrous way suggests knowing parody as opposed to contrivance. But there’s something anachronistic, even irreverent, about the film’s end-results.

That’s part of the fun, like we’ve stepped into a time machine or unearthed a ten-year-old Araki movie. But today, this apocalyptic pastiche doesn’t feel as urgent — or as subversive — as it once did. Perhaps the amusement with which we once imagined the end of the world has lost its luster in our post-9-11, post-economic-collapse epoch. Whatever the reason, “Kaboom” may end with a bang, but it feels like a whimper.

“Kaboom” is currently without U.S. distribution.

[Photos: “Kaboom,” Crispy Films, 2010]

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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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