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Five classic chick (action) flicks

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The term “chick flick” calls certain images to mind: moonlit kisses in the rain; awkward yet adorable first meetings between lovers; Katherine Heigl. If you’re calling something a “chick flick,” odds are you’re doing it dismissively, as in “My wife is dragging me to that new chick flick.” (NOTE: No one tell my wife I wrote that.) But “chick flick” is such a nice turn of phrase — it’s short, it’s memorable, it rhymes — that I think we ought to take it back. It should apply to all kinds of movies starring women, not just the ones featuring makeover montages or sassy best friends (or Katherine Heigl).

A perfect example is Steven Soderbergh‘s new movie, which opens in theaters this Friday. It’s called “Haywire,” but a more accurate title would be “MMA Fighter Gina Carano Beats the Shit Out of All of Hollywood’s Hottest Young Male Stars.” Carano (official MMA record: 7-1) plays Mallory, a secret agent for hire on a quest for revenge against her former employers. Getting that revenge means wiping the floor with Ewan McGregor, Channing Tatum, and Michael Fassbender, among others. It’s not a “chick flick” as we’ve come to know it — it’s closer to a Chuck Norris vehicle than a Sarah Jessica Parker vehicle — but maybe it should be. We could call it something like a “chick (action) flick.”

Whatever you want to call it, “Haywire” belongs to a fine tradition of action films centered around strong, sexy women. Here are five of our favorites.


“Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” (1965)
Directed by Russ Meyer

Russ Meyer’s camp classic features a trio of busty, deadly woman on a go-go dancing, hot-rod racing rampage through the American Southwest. Meyer’s vixens — Haji, Lori Williams, and especially the voluptuous, karate-chopping Tura Santana — square off against a male cast that is clearly outmatched, both mentally and physically, by their female counterparts. The film’s opening narration, which accompanies images of bouncing sound waves (followed immediately by images of bouncing breasts) sets the tone as well as the connection between the pussycats’ power and their sexuality (“Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to violence!”). No wonder John Waters called it the best movie ever made and “possibly better than any movie that will ever be made.” Forty-five years later, I’m not sure any filmmaker has conclusively proven him wrong.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqnRok1Fvk0


“Coffy” (1973)
Directed by Jack Hill

Male superheroes have utility belts. Coffy has an afro. She uses it to hide all sorts of useful things, mostly famously razor blades, which come quite in handy — no pun intended — when she finds herself in the middle of a catfight with some grabby prostitutes. Coffy, as played by the charming and stunningly gorgeous Pam Grier, is like the prototype of the woman Gina Carano plays in “Haywire” — beautiful, deadly, kicked around by men, and on a righteous quest for revenge. Though Grier spends a fair amount of the film nude and/or in bed with an assortment of male co-stars, director Jack Hill is actually using the framework of an exploitation film to tell a story of feminine empowerment, of a woman who uses her sexuality to her advantage, and whose enemies are all symbols of patriarchal power: pimps, cops, and, politicians.


“La Femme Nikita” (1990)
Directed by Luc Besson

A secret government agency trains a junkie and convicted cop killer (Anne Parillaud) how to be an assassin — and how to be a lady. Their classes include marksmanship, computer hacking, and grooming. “There are two things that are infinite,” Nikita’s etiquette teacher instructs her. “Femininity and means to take advantage of it.” After her training is complete, Nikita tries to balance her secret life as a deadly spy and her domestic life with a simple grocery clerk with mixed results, a nifty metaphor for the dilemma facing modern working women everywhere. Keeping the personal and the professional apart proves just as difficult as kidnapping an ambassador and stealing his secret files. The film is episodic and almost feels like the pilot of an ongoing television series, so it’s no surprise that there have already been two different “Nikita” television series.


“The Heroic Trio” (1993)
Directed by Johnnie To

This Hong Kong superhero flick gets major demerits for dodgy wirework and a laughable plot (the version available on Netflix Watch Instantly also sports some absolutely horrendous English language dubbing). But that doesn’t change the fact that it also boasts one of the greatest assemblages of woman warriors in movie history. Super-powered Shadow Fox (Anita Mui), and shotgun-toting biker chick Mercy (Maggie Cheung) team up to rescue a bunch of kidnapped babies from the hands of an evil sorcerer who wants to use them to bring about the resurrection of who the hell knows. Eventually, Shadow Fox and Mercy combine forces with the sorcerer’s right hand lady, The Invisible Woman (Michelle Yeoh) and then all three have some absolutely spectacular fight scenes with the movie’s heavy, a flying guillotine toting nutjob played by Anthony Wong. The Trio represent both beauty and brawn; after they win their climactic battle, they grab some flowing robes and do a slow-motion catwalk strut into the closing credits.


“Kill Bill: Volumes 1 and 2” (2003 and 2004)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino

The movie with so much asskickery it had to be split in two parts, first released in the fall of 2003 and the spring of 2004, respectively. Uma Thurman’s The Bride is betrayed and left to die on her wedding day by the rest of her squad of professional assassins; over the course of Quentin Tarantino’s two-part revenge saga, she ferociously repays the favor. “Kill Bill” is, in some ways, the apotheosis of Tarantino’s film quotation aesthetic — the movie’s IMDb movie connections page is almost as long as its screenplay. It combines themes, visuals, and motifs from all these other wonderful female action films — including “Thriller: A Cruel Picture,” “Switchblade Sisters,” and “The Doll Squad” — to create an experience that is arguably more fun than all of its influences combined.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekSwtVAXBsc


What’s your favorite chick (action) flick? Tell us in the comments below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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