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Three Must-See Movies at the 2011 New York Asian Film Festival

Three Must-See Movies at the 2011 New York Asian Film Festival (photo)

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Get ready New Yorkers: the 2011 New York Asian Film Festival, two weeks of amazing (and sometimes amazingly weird) cinema, starts today at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater. This year’s lineup is massive, so here are a few recommendations to get you started. There are lots of other good films at the fest, but you absolutely cannot miss these three.

“Sell Out!”
Directed by Yeo Joon Han, 2008

If “Dr. Strangelove” and “Office Space” had a baby, and then that baby was raised in a karaoke bar, it might look something like “Sell Out!” a hilarious, demented, and wildly creative comic musical from Malaysia. The film opens with TV host Rafflesia Pong (Jerrica Lai) interviewing a totally nude man named “Yeo Joon Han” — a.k.a. the director of the movie we’re watching — in honor of his being named the Kryzhindangzhongbushaus Village Far Easter Film Festival’s Young Oversea-Chinese Women New Director’s Honorary Mention Award in the category of Films Suitable for Audiences Age 70 and Above. After pretentious Asian art films get brutally and brilliantly parodied (“Why are your movies so slow?” “…”), “Sell Out!” moves on to skewer even bigger targets: braindead corporate culture, shitty customer service, and lowest common denominator reality television. Unfairly buried for three years by its Malaysian distributors, “Sell Out!” might be the most perfect satire of our cynical, celebrity- and money-obsessed times ever made. And it has musical numbers!

Playing Friday July 1 and Monday July 4 at Walter Reade.

Directed by Kwok Hyeok-Jae, 2010

This movie is somewhat mislabeled as part of NYAFF 2011’s sidebar of Korean revenge thrillers. Only half right: there’s not much revenge going in “Troubleshooter” but there are plenty of thrills in the mold of Hitchcockian wrong man adventures like “The 39 Steps.” Sol Kyung-gu stars as Tae-sik, a private investigator who makes his living catching adulterers in the act. He cockily shows up at his latest gig, happily snapping away with his automatic camera, until he realizes he’s been set up: there’s a dead body where a couple of lovebirds should be and blood all over the floor. With the police hot on his trail, Tae-sik’s got to prove his innocence and figure out who’s framed him, all while also performing the tasks his mysterious blackmailer keeps sending him via cell phone in exchange for the only proof of his innocence. Luckily Tae-sik is a bad ass private eye, a master of technology and disguises who’s also not bad at kicking the crap out of bad guys either. From start to finish, this is just an immensely satisfying chase movie. Winner of the NYAFF 2011 award for the film most likely to get remade as a Jason Statham vehicle.

Playing Tuesday July 12 and Thursday July 14 at Walter Reade.

BKO: Bangkok Knockout
Directed by Panna Rittikrai, 2010

From the title alone, you might want to confuse this one with a crummy Nicolas Cage flick. But once the movie starts there will be no confusion: “BKO: Bangkok Knockout” is the apogee of the Thai martial arts flick, an exploitation extravaganza against which all future Thai martial arts flicks will be measured. From Panna Rittikrai, mentor and frequent collaborator of “Ong Bak”‘s Tony Jaa, comes the endearingly dopey story of a movie stunt team convinced they’ve been hired by big-time movie producer Mr. Sneed (!!!) to make a movie in Hollywood. They celebrate their new job with a big fancy dinner, too confident in their impending success to notice the caterers are acting a wee bit funny. Cut to the next day, and the whole stunt team finds themselves in a martial arts remake of “The Hangover,” drugged, confused, and lost in a giant abandoned construction site where they’re forced to battle an army of kung-fu caterers while evil millionaires wager on their lives with the mighty Mr. Sneed (!!!!!!!). There’s a lot of exposition to wade through in the early going, but from about the half-hour mark on “BKO” becomes an onslaught of amazing action sequences piled one on top of the other. There are fights in cages, fights in the air, fights on dirt bikes, even fights between dudes hanging underneath speeding tractor trailers. The good news here is this movie has already been picked up for U.S. distribution by Magnet Releasing, so even if you can’t make it to the New York Asian Film Festival, you’ll still be able to see this one in a few months. Lucky you.

Playing Saturday July 2 and Saturday July 9 at Walter Reade.

Also recommended at NYAFF 2011: “Bedevilled” (bleak and beautiful Korean revenge thriller); “Machete Maidens Unleashed!” (Poppy documentary on the history of Filipino exploitation cinema); “Horny House of Horror” (Troma-style horror/comedy set in brutal Japanese brothel); “Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky” (cartoonishly bloody future kung-fu campfest).

What do you want to see at NYAFF 2011? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!

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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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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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