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Review: “Zonad,” a liquor-soaked alien invasion.

Review: “Zonad,” a liquor-soaked alien invasion. (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.

Around midnight in front of the Village East Cinemas, a group of friends in front of me were saying they might be inspired to finish that documentary they’ve been kicking around after seeing something as “half-assed” as “Zonad” get into Tribeca.

It may be the only time “Zonad” will be cited as an inspiration itself, since so much of it is inspired by other films. It surely won’t be the first time somebody is disappointed by it. As director John Carney’s follow-up film to “Once” — as delicate and revered as any romantic drama has been in years, if not decades — “Zonad” (co-directed with his brother Kieran) is certainly a shock to the system, yet it’s also all but assured many midnight screenings to come if the right audience finds it.

Like one of those “Saturday Night Live” sketches that begin with a funny premise before getting weird and slightly uncomfortable and then ultimately funny again because of the commitment to the original premise, one’s love of “Zonad” will depend entirely on how much you commit to its absurdity.

Certainly, the Carney brothers are true believers. They touch down in the Irish town of Ballymoran where the local entertainment consists of gazing up at the stars and drinking at the local pub, so imagine the community’s embrace of Zonad (Simon Delaney), a portly stranger in a red latex spacesuit that is found passed out in front of a liquor cabinet.

No one questions Zonad when he comes to, easily accepting his explanation that he passed through a “rip in the fabric of time.” No one wonders if he’s responsible for those empty gin bottles or if it’s a good idea or not to undress in front of him when he claims he’s hibernating.

05012010_Zonad2.jpgEven when the family that takes him in finds their telly and DVD player in the back of his trunk, they trust him implicitly and soon after, their teenage daughter, as well as the rest of the town’s women, fall at his feet. However, Zonad’s godlike treatment only lasts so long since a rival “alien” Bonad (David Pearse) swoops into town and easily sways the locals’ short attention spans.

All of this may sound genteel enough on paper, but the Carneys paint Ballymoran as a ’50s era community of conformity thrown for a loop by the modernism Zonad represents — policemen are compelled to urinate on those unwise enough to question the aliens’ bona fides and once chaste girls are possessed to paint “fuck me” on their eyebrows.

It could be seen as a parody in the vein of the knowing sci-fi spoof “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra,” but “Zonad” is too crude to be considered a loving homage and too wedded to its movieness to be classified as anything else. The fact that it’s a tweener adds to the general hit-and-miss quality of the comedy, but also burnishes it with an unusual charm that’s often elusive to the parodies that rely on a steady succession of empty sight gags and in-jokes.

Given the importance of music in “Once,” it’s not surprising that the Carneys can’t help but slip in some familiar soundtrack cues as well as Bryan Byrne’s incredibly versatile score to add to the humor, but it’s ultimately their dedication to keeping the plot (and the good townsfolk of Ballymoran) simple while continually raising the stakes of what Zonad and Bonad are capable of. When the film ends in a musical number, it’s all too fitting — it’s ridiculous, out of the blue and hits mostly all the right notes.

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

[Photos: “Zonad,” Element Pictures, 2010]

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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.

via GIPHY

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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