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Something’s Got a Hold on Me, And I Don’t Know What: “Somewhere,” Reviewed

Something’s Got a Hold on Me, And I Don’t Know What: “Somewhere,” Reviewed (photo)

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As we left our screening of “Somewhere,” a colleague observed that he’d never been to the Chateau Marmont, where much of the movie is set, but that he “couldn’t believe how crappy it looked.” I’ve never been there either, and while I’m not sure that that’s the description I’d choose, as it’s sketched out in the film the famous West Hollywood hotel doesn’t conform to any of the expected trappings of luxury — the grounds look rambling and overgrown, the eclectic furniture comfortably broken in, the overall air studiedly unpretentious. It’s a very high-end version of what George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air” deemed “fauxmey” — a shabby chic, sun-dappled aerie filled with beautiful, sometimes famous playmates, where everyone knows your name and room service is available 24 hours a day.

That sense of coddled coziness is important to Johnny Marco (Stephen Dorff), because the Marmont is the hotel he lives in when not off staying at other hotels, on shoots, press days and Italian award shows. Johnny is a movie star and, as far as we can divine, a very famous one, enjoying an easy, debauched break between features. So rudderless is his lifestyle that his days are shaped by the people who show up at his doorstep or call him on the phone — his agent rings to tell him a car will be out front in 15 minutes to take him to a junket; he comes home to find his best friend presiding over a party in his suite; he wakes up to find his daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) signing the cast he has on the arm he broke taking a boozy accidental dive down some stairs. Cleo lives most of the time with her mom and Johnny’s ex Layla (Lala Sloatman), but she comes to stay with her father twice — the first time as a regular instance of a partial custody agreement, the unscheduled second because her mother needs some space.

12222010_somewhere3.jpg“Somewhere” has obviously echoes of Sofia Coppola’s earlier melancholy movie star story “Lost in Translation,” playing out like a minor B-side to that better film, though one with its own petite pleasures. While “Lost in Translation” focused on a relationship enabled by the impermanent jetlagged bubble of displacement of a Tokyo hotel, that bubble is where Johnny has chosen to spend his life, the only abiding aspect of which, the only permanent mark he’s left on the world beyond a string of the more forgettable type of multiplex movie, is his 11-year-old child.

He’s a charming, unreliable bastard, a noncommittal man so sedated by indulgence that he’s arrived on the cusp of middle age without a moment of self-reflection. Women are always either throwing themselves at him or throwing a tantrum at him when he fails to return their calls or treat them with respect. Even Cleo is enchanted by him but wary — there’s no doubt that he loves her, but also that he’s made no larger place for her in his life. On a trip to Rome, for instance, they spend an evening watching TV and ordering in gelato, but after she’s gone to sleep he summons a former lover he ran into in the lobby, the three taking an awkward breakfast together in the morning.

Johnny and Cleo’s time together is everything of substance in this wisp of a movie, and Fanning is touchingly good as a little girl whose still takes delight in the giddy perks of A-list existence, but no longer really finds them enough to make up for her only semi-present dad. When her breakdown happens, it is, like most of the emotional moments in the film, all the more powerful for being underplayed — a child weeping with worry that her parents are too busy with their own needs to pay attention to hers. Johnny’s own comeuppance, on the other hand, is artless and heavy-handed, a bald stating out loud of what had been delicately left understood before. Or maybe it’s that Johnny’s more an absence of a main character than any active force (something that is, admittedly, part of the point of the movie), and so whatever change happens in him over “Somewhere”‘s course seems more like a new impulse to be indulged rather than any growth.

12222010_somewhere4.jpgIt’s a seductive thought, that the most beloved and pampered of stars can find their lives empty and emptied of meaning, and “Somewhere” seems aware of and plays into our desire for celebrity schadenfreude a bit. Coppola’s unmoving camera observes from a wry remove the pole-dancing pair of strippers Johnny orders to his room, or his race car circling a track, zipping in and out of the frame but never going anywhere. And yet, through the unaffected gaze of Cleo, these things seem magical again, for Johnny, of course, but also for us in the audience. Sure, it’s a shallow existence, but it can also be pretty sweet — providing you have someone to remind you of the fact.

“Somewhere” opens in limited release today.

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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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