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DID YOU READ

Can We Get a Black Widow Movie?

Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers

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Can we get a Black Widow movie up in this? Most of the Avengers – Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man – are bankable franchises. And fans of those franchises, to be sure, put their butts in seats to the record-breaking tune of a $200 million opening weekend, beating the previous opening record held by Harry Potter’s final installment. So: obviously there are going to be sequels; we are in a golden age of comic book movies.

That having been said, of all the Avengers, the Black Widow – Natasha Romanoff – was, to me and to others, the most interesting. Granted, this blogger has a thing for gorgeous women who can kick ass. And The Black Widow is one of the toughest and most interesting characters ever to come out of comic books. As Karina Longworth noted in her largely unfavorable view of The Avengers in The Village Voice (you can’t win ‘em all), The Black Widow is the true standout character. “The Avengers hints that this former Russian spy with ‘a very specific skill set’ has a complicated backstory—sordid and shameful, perhaps, but also rife with transformative drama, suggesting an arc that’s much more interesting than anything the characters travel here.”

My favorite incarnation of Natasha Romanoff, who’s backstory is indeed shameful and sordid but also quite interesting, is the Frank Miller run. Frank Miller, now famous as a screenwriter (RoboCop2), a co-director (Sin City, with Robert Rodriguez), and producer (300) is also famous for his Noir-ish comic book art and dark stories. Miller inked this gritty, infinitely beautiful series of Daredevil comics in which Widow and The Man Without Fear team up to fight a shadowy underworld cult organization of Ninjas known as “The Hand.” There is black magic and lots of arrows and poisoned throwing stars and martial arts involved. The storyline reached its apex in the iconic Daredevil #188, which, this blogger cannot fail to note, is one of the most breathtakingly cinematically scripted graphic novels.

Few Marvel characters are as ready-made for a film franchise as Natasha Romanoff, who appeared, all too briefly, in Iron Man 2. At various points in her comic book life Black Widow has been a villain – an antagonist of Iron Man – a secret agent on both sides during the Cold War, and, finally, as a superhero. She has been used – as a pawn in a complex geopolitical chess match – by the East and the West. Her motive for being a superhero is redemption.

Like Captain America and Wolverine, Romanoff has lived a longer-than-human-lifespan, getting mixed up in both World War II and the Cold War. One telling of her origin goes back to the 1940s where she, as a child, was rescued from the Nazis by Captain America. Then things go murky, and she is lost – mixed up with the KGB. She was trained as the ultimate spy in “The Red Room” – the former Soviet Union’s answer to the Super Soldier program that gave us the red-white and blue bedecked Captain America. In the 60s, Natasha wore a veil and evening gowns, a sort of cheesy parody of the scarlet-haired Russian spy/ vixen. Now, in her final incarnation — a skin tight black suit and golden wrist bands that fire deadly energy beams — she is an Olympic caliber athlete highly trained in all forms of the martial arts that is seeking redemption for her past sins. Does this not sound like a story made for Hollywood?

Also: Scarlett Johansson would be wildly interested in the role. “I love her origin story,” Johansson told CBS News. “I think it’s just such a riveting one. It’s just steeped in history and the richness to shoot in Russia, perhaps … I hope that the fans’ voice is loud enough and they want to see a Widow origin story, I know Marvel would be happy to entertain that. We’ve spoken a lot about it.”

Clearly, movies based on comic book characters are not going away, not with this kind of money on the table. Even actors – like Patrick Dempsey in the case of a possible Dr. Strange movie – are making sort-of-public appeals, perhaps in the hope of getting a social media groundswell going. I’d like to add my voice to Scarlett Johansson’s sexy rasp in saying that we need to make a Black Widow origin story.

And while we are on the subject of beautiful women who could kick our asses and are former secret agents: Could we get a Spider-Woman movie up in this as well? Just saying, yo.

Would you like to see a Black Widow movie? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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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 IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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