This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


Disc Covering: “The Assassin Next Door” Is Smarter Than You Think

Disc Covering: “The Assassin Next Door” Is Smarter Than You Think (photo)

Posted by on

Immediately after she saw the George Clooney film, “The American,” editor Alison Willmore tweeted, “Are there ever any HAPPY assassins? They’re always moping around by themselves. There has to be some upside to it as a career choice.” She had an excellent point: movie after movie portray hitmen as dour, moody depressives. Presumably no one is forcing these people into the profession. The economy’s not that bad, and it’s not one of those jobs that’s passed down from one generation to the next like a cobbler in Victorian England (“You want me to be like you Dad! But I’m not like you! I don’t want to use an M40 rifle to lay down supressive fire!”). Surely their skills — accuracy with guns and knives, making enigmatic conversations seem incredibly charming, doing lots of pushups without a shirt on — would suit them well in other jobs. What about the comfortable and very lucrative field of private security?

The first thing that jumped out at me about this week’s straight-to-video selection, “The Assassin Next Door,” is that it features a sad assassin who has a damn good reason to be depressed. She’s a Russian prostitute stuck in Israel, forced to pay off her debt to her pimp by becoming a killer for hire. Unless she murders who he says, when he says, she’ll never get the money and passport she needs to return to her family in Russia. See, now that’s a good reason to be bummed about being a professional murderer! It may be hard out here for a pump but it’s way harder for the woman he forces at gunpoint to shoot people for him.

“The Assassin Next Door”
Directed by Danny Lerner

09072010_assassin2.jpgTagline: Beware of thy neighbor.

Tweetable Plot Synopsis: Justifiably sad assassin teams up with battered spouse to free themselves from shackles of patriarchal society while looking extremely hot.

Salable Elements: Bond girl Olga Kurylenko as said sad assassin; a
world premiere at the 2009 Toronto International Film festival.

Biggest Success: Kurylenko wasn’t the most believable former Bolivian secret service agent in “Quantum of Solace,” possibly because in real life she’s a former not-Bolivian supermodel. But I have to say: she is very convincing as Russian-prostitute-turned-reluctant-killer Galia in “The Assassin Next Door.” Her accent and her English was never her strong suit, but this film permits her to speak primarily (and much more naturally) in her native Russian.

She just looks and sounds the part (only in a film review can you say that a woman looks and sounds like a hooker and mean it as a compliment). Her performance in “Quantum of Solace” — which made Denise Richards’ nuclear physicist from “The World is Not Enough” look authentic in comparison — made me think she was going to wind up on the Lois Chiles end of post-Bond girl careers. “The Assassin Next Door” suggests otherwise.

09072010_assassin3.jpgBiggest Failure: “The Assassin Next Door” is an accurate but somewhat misleading title. True, Galia lives next door to a woman whom she befriends and assists. But the title suggests wacky shenanigans ahead, possibly involving adorable child actors who help Kurylenko oil her guns or shine her garrote wire. That’s simply not the case.

The film is much more a moody character study about two women learning to stand up to the men that abuse them than a cutesy action-comedy (or even a traditional straight-to-video exploitation action picture). The filmmakers probably should have stuck with the film’s original and far more appropriate Hebrew title, “Kirot,” which literally translates to “Walls.”

Best Moment: An impressive long take that follows Kurylenko, her eyes darting everywhere with barely contained anxiety, as she enters a dance club, seeks out her target, stalks her across the dance floor, and then follows her into a bathroom where she must kill her. Imagine if Ray Liotta walked into the Copa in “Goodfellas” and then immediately shot a guy in the front row, and you’ve got the idea.

I Question: the first meeting between Galia and her next door neighbor Elinor (Ninette Tayeb). “My name’s Elinor,” she says, “like the song,” before proceeding to sing the song, earnestly and very sweetly, on a public bus. Have you ever met anyone who shared a name with a famous song who didn’t hate that song and anyone who brought it up? You think Willmore introduces herself as “Alison, like the song” and then busts out the Elvis Costello? No, never.

Best Line: “I thought we’d celebrate properly, with Hummus and Vodka.” — Kurylenko’s pimp, after she successfully carries out a hit.

09072010_assassin4.jpgWorthy of a Theatrical Release? Surprisingly, yes. Despite the cheesy title, “The Assassin Next Door” is a mature and satisfying variation on the sad assassin genre. It’s a type of character we’ve seen before, in a setting (the Israeli underworld) and a style (female revenge fantasy) that feels unique. I like writer/director Danny Lerner’s unconventional take on the conventions of this genre: for example, instead of going to a priest for the tired scene where the sad assassin confesses their sins and unsuccessfully seeks absolution, Galia convinces Elinor to take her to a mikvah, a ritual Jewish bath for married women. This is one of those movies that does enough things right (good performances, impressive camerawork, clever genre twists) to forgive the things it does wrong.

For Further Viewing: The official trailer for the film, which sells it as exactly the sort of slick, buddy action film it deconstructs:

Watch More

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

Posted by on
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…

Watch More

A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

Posted by on
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.

Watch More

WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

Posted by on

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

Watch More