High Fidelity John Cusack Jack Black

Shopping List

10 Fictional Stores We Want To Shop In

Visit Portlandia's Femimart Thursday at 10P on IFC.

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Warner Bros.

Have you ever wished you could hang out in a magical toy store? Or maybe score some records from the surliest music store clerks of all time? We spend so much of our lives with characters from our favorite shows and movies, it’s only natural to want to take that relationship to the next level. To get you ready for Portlandia‘s new Femimart, check out a few fake stores we wish we could visit in real life. No coupon clipping necessary.

10. Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium

Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Sometimes movies don’t need to be perfect to create a perfect place. Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium sits at 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, and yet we’ve never been able to shake the shop that Mr. Magorium runs in the movie. Anything can happen there. Want any toy in the world? Just write it in the ledger and it will appear. Turn a doorknob and rooms will magically transform. The store — one part Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and one part Pee-Wee’s Playhouse — is a living thing, willing to fulfill your wildest fantasies, or throw a massive tempter tantrum. Plus, the checkout girl looks remarkably like Natalie Portman.


9. Championship Vinyl

Working Title Films
Working Title Films

Championship Vinyl is in a Chicago neighborhood that attracts the bare minimum of window shoppers. It caters to young men looking for The Smiths singles and rare Frank Zappa albums. If you want crap like “I Just Called To Say I Love You,” you can cart your butt back out to the mall. Shop owner Rob Gordon (John Cusack) compares the records he sells, which he calls fetish properties, to porn. The employees here are true blue, dyed-in-the-wool music snobs just like in the good ol’ days when people actually left the house to buy music. This is a store where opinions are as good as facts and mix tapes are a reason to get out of bed in the morning. (Well, in the afternoon.)


8. The Magic Box

20th Century Fox Television
20th Century Fox Television

Life in Sunnydale isn’t the easiest. Demons and vampires are constantly trying to kill you, and all the cute boys are either attached or have decomposing, unattached limbs. But there is one place of refuge, and that’s The Magic Box. Whether you’re a layman looking for a love potion, or an experienced Wiccan looking for that hard-to-find spell, The Magic Box is a one-stop shop for all your occult needs. And if you have some free time between sales, feel free to crack wise with Xander, train with Giles or make out with Spike. Just be careful with the musical spells.


7. Mr. Hooper’s Store

What kid didn’t want to hang out with Big Bird and the gang at Mr. Hooper’s Store, Sesame Street’s premiere supplier of cookies and whatever it was that Mr. Snuffleupagus eats. Whatever you need, kindly old Mr. Hooper could supply it. Oh no. We just remembered the episode where Big Bird finds out Mr. Hooper died. Can’t talk…curling into fetal position and crying for mommy…


6. Bill’s Candy Shop

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures

If you’re a kid, a kid at heart, or just have a horrible diet, there’s no place you’d rather while away the hours than inside Bill’s Candy Shop. Whether you’re in the mood for a piece of Fickelgruber’s hard candy, some Slugworth’s Sizzlers, or a Wonka Scrumdiddlyumptious Chocolate Bar, there’s only one place to satiate your sweet tooth. No matter your craving, Bill has it, and he knows to save it just for you. See, Bill isn’t some new school candy slinger, who just sells his wares to anyone with a dime and a dream. Bill knows his customers by name, and has just the right bit of sugary goodness ready for them when they walk in the door. He isn’t afraid to just start tossing candy in the air, as he sings little ditties about “The Candy Man.” Come on behind the counter, kids. Help yourself. Come to think of it, Bill really needs to start charging or he’s going to go out of business.


5. The Leftorium

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

For the left-handed among us, there’s one store that’s always held a certain allure. The Leftorium is a business as simple as it is brilliant. Why not have a shop for left-handed folks? Give the rest of the world a taste of what it’s like to have everything backwards. Thanks to Ned Flanders, this is just the store for all your leftie shopping needs, whether its a left-handed ruler, poster or Statue of Liberty figurine. Just try and remember not to mention the Southpaw Superstore that opened up nearby.


4. Empire Records

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

While the snobbishness may be dialed down at Empire Records, at least compared to Championship Vinyl, the staff is no less a family. They stick together through thick and thin, especially when their store is on the verge of being sold to a conglomerate and turned into a bland franchise outpost. But that’s not what bumps this shop so high up on the list. And no, it’s not the morality plays the staff puts on to make sure none of them get hooked on drugs, as fun as those seem. What makes this shop stand out is simple. It’s filled with gorgeous, young people who seem very down to have sex and/or break into song and dance. Sure beats browsing iTunes in our underwear.


3.”Be Kind Rewind” VHS Rental

Focus Features
Focus Features
There was a time when an outing to the video store was a full evening. You’d peruse the aisles, digging through the new releases until finally settling on renting City Slickers II: The Legend of Curly’s Gold for the 15th time. Sadly, those days have passed. But what if there was a shop where you could still riffle through your favorite titles? And what if all the movies were homemade remakes starring Jack Black and Mos Def that possessed the raw, unadulterated love of cinema that made you fall in love with the medium in the first place? Well, there is such a place in Be Kind Rewind, and all you have to do is remember the title before bringing the video back. Sounds like a fair deal to us.


2. The Chinatown Antique Shop From Gremlins

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

When you’ve searched high and low for a birthday gift for your son only to come up empty handed, it’s time to start thinking outside the box. That’s how Randall “Rand” Peltzer found himself digging through the ancient trinkets and cobwebs of a nameless Chinese antique store, and finding a Mogwai that he would pay any price for. Just imagine what other treats must lay behind the tattered curtains and hazy candlelight of this mysterious shop. As long as you bring cash (and the owner isn’t looking), you may walk out with something truly one of a kind. Just remember not to feed it after midnight.


1. TRAX Record Store

If we had a time machine, we’d forgo the whole killing Hitler thing and just go back to in time and hang out with Iona, Duckie and Andie at the record store in Pretty in Pink. Oh also our time machine can go to fictional eras.

Visit Portlandia’s Femimart!

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Rocky IV Paulie Robot

Mr. Roboto

5 Reasons Rocky IV Is Too Rotten to Miss

Catch Rocky IV Friday at 8P during IFC's Rotten Fridays.

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Photo Credit: MGM/UA/YouTube

When Rocky IV was released in 1985, the critics were not kind. (While it wasn’t around back then, the film’s 39% ranking on Rotten Tomatoes speaks for itself.) Less of a movie than a jingoistic music video starring a robot and a steroid-addled, monosyllabic Russian baddie, Rocky IV is a far cry from the Italian Stallion’s humble origins.

Still, more than any movie ever made, it exemplifies the whole “so bad its good” genre. This movie was made for us, the great-unwashed masses of the 1980s, who loved the band Survivor and hated those Commie bastards. Before you catch Rocky IV on IFC’s Rotten Fridays, let’s take a look at some moments that make this flick a “too rotten to miss” classic.

5. That Opening Shot

Rocky IV
United Artists

It takes all of 30 seconds for the audience to know they’re in for one ridiculous rollercoaster ride through a Cold War conniption fit of good vs. evil. Gone is the subtle tone and grounded reality of the first Rocky. In its place we see two gloves, one emblazoned with the American flag, the other with the Soviets’, hurtling toward each other. When they collide, sparks fly, and we witness an explosion decades in the making.

In case the symbolism is too subtle for you, director/writer/star Sylvester Stallone is trying to hint that this movie will be the clash of civilizations we’d all been waiting for, but instead of nuclear bombs, a humble palooka from the streets would be duking it out in the ring with the ultimate representation of coldhearted Communism. If it were up to us, this opening shot would’ve won Best Picture all by itself.


4. So Many Montages

Rocky IV has a running time of 91 minutes and 20 seconds. Its eight montages (yes, EIGHT) run a total of 29 minutes and 10 seconds. That is one third of the movie solely dedicated to montages. (Considering Stallone’s contempt for all things Soviet, we have to wonder if he knows it was a dirty Ruskie who invented the montage.)

During one of the many, many montages, director Stallone actually flashes back to a scene that had happened a minute and half prior, creating the impression that he might actually flashback to the montage we were just watching in the same montage. Stallone clearly loves a good montage set to an inspirational ’80s song, and so do we. Which brings us to…


3. A Soundtrack Full of Pumped Up ’80s Jams

Speaking of montages, they are set to the score of some of the cheesiest hits from the mid-’80s. For once, we’re spared tracks from Frank Stallone, with Stallone replacing his rocker brother with synth-y singles from Survivor, John Cafferty and Kenny Loggins. And of course, Robert Tepper, possessor of an ’80s mullet that could topple empires, crooning “No Easy Way Out.” The music in this movie is one step away from being a parody of the music in this movie. If you ever want to know what cocaine can do to the human mind, just listen to this soundtrack.


2. Rocky Ends the Cold War

Rocky IV speech
United Artists

In one of the most misguided, self-congratulatory, and immediately dated moments in cinema history, good ol’ galoot Rocky Balboa single-handedly ended the Cold War four years before the Berlin Wall came down.

To quote the Italian Stallion himself: “In here…there were two guys… killing each other. But I guess that’s better than millions. What I’m trying to say is… if I can change… and you can change…everybody can change!” And just like that the Soviet public, generals and even the Premier himself rose to their feet in applause, realizing what fools they’d been. This guy beat Mr. T for Heaven’s sake. He knows what he’s talking about!


1. Paulie’s Robot

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath and really consider this for a moment. Rocky IV has a robot butler in it. A movie franchise that began back in 1976 exploring the gritty reality of a bum fighter trying to prove himself somehow limped along long enough to turn into a weak Short Circuit rip-off in which an alcoholic mooch with a history of domestic abuse now gets his coffee served to him by a robot. A robot that he has programmed with a “sultry” lady voice!

Stallone was inspired to include the real life robot Sico in Rocky IV because of the work it did to help autistic children like his son Seargeoh. That’s all very moving, but doesn’t explain why he decided to write a scene where Paulie dubs poor Sico “the love of my life.” It’s a testament to Rocky IV‘s “too rotten to miss” status that Paulie’s robot girlfriend/personal servant isn’t even the craziest thing that happens to Rock and the gang.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

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Swimming To Cambodia Spalding Gray

Gray's Anatomy

Everything You Need to Know About the Movie That Inspired “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”

Brand new Documentary Now! airs Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom Pictures

This week Documentary Now! spotlights a master monologist with “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything.” Before you tune in at 10P this Wednesday on IFC, check out our guide to Swimming to Cambodia, the 1987 film that captured writer/performer Spalding Gray’s acclaimed one-person show.

Spalding Gray 101

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures

Actor and renowned monologist Spalding Gray spent two years on stage perfecting his Obie Award-winning “Swimming to Cambodia” monologue. In it, Gray tells the story of his eight weeks in Southeast Asia while shooting the 1984 Academy Award-winning movie The Killing Fields. He had a small role, but the experience gave him several anecdotes about hanging out with the film crew and experiencing the local culture, all while searching for “the perfect moment.”

Directed by the Silence of the Lambs Guy

Hannibal Lecter
Orion Pictures/Everett Collection

Acclaimed filmmaker Jonathan Demme took Gray’s two-night, four hour performance and crafted it down to 85 minutes. His use of dramatic lighting, stylish camerawork and a score by performance artist Laurie Anderson was praised by critics and earned the film a cult following. No stranger to groundbreaking docs, Demme also directed the 1984 Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense, which Documentary Now! pays tribute to in this season’s episode “Final Transmission.”

All about the Voices

While it may have been a one-man show, Gray created a repertoire of characters all with distinctive accents. (He portrayed conversations between himself and others just by turning his head.) Our favorite impressions are of his demanding girlfriend Renee and Ivan Strasberg, the South African director of photography on The Killing Fields who, as depicted by Gray, sounds a bit like a Jamaican surfer.

The Original Cranky New Yorker

In one memorable scene, Gray rants about how his noisy upstairs artist neighbors are driving him and Renee crazy. Even in the mid-’80s, there were New Yorkers complaining that the city wasn’t what it used to be.

Show and Tell

Swimming to Cambodia
Cinecom Pictures/YouTube

A big fan of visual aids, Gray used pull-down maps to illustrate his travels. This helped to bring Swimming to Cambodia to life, since he’s basically sitting at a desk the entire time.

Inspired One-Person Shows

Gray’s groundbreaking performances in Swimming and other documentaries like Monster in a Box and the Steven Soderbergh-directed Gray’s Anatomy (about Gray’s struggle with a rare eye condition) paved the way for future one-person shows. (We wouldn’t have everything from Carrie Fisher’s “Wishful Drinking” to Mike Birbiglia’s “Sleepwalk With Me” without him.) Even Doc Now! star Fred Armisen got into the one-person show act for his recent SNL monologue.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Spalding Gray when “Parker Gail: Location Is Everything” premieres Wednesday, September 28th at 10P on IFC. 

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Rocky IV Stallone Lundgren

Burning Heart

10 Reasons Why Rocky IV Is the Ultimate Rocky Movie

Catch an all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC.

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Photo Credit: United Artists/Everett Collection

Sure, most people love the first Rocky for its heart, gripping boxing scenes and the classic training montage. Or, you might love Creed for being both a return-to-form and a new exploration of the Rocky mythology. Maybe the thrill of seeing Mr. T and Hulk Hogan in the same movie makes Rocky III your top pick. Well, sorry, you’re wrong: Rocky IV is the greatest of all the “Italian Stallion”‘s movies.

Before you watch the all-day Rocky movie marathon this Friday, September 30th on IFC (with Rocky IV airing at 8P as part of Rotten Fridays), check out a few reasons to appreciate the fourth installment as the king of the series.

1. The Greatest Opening Ever

How many openings are able to sum up the entire conflict of the film in less than a minute and without a single line of dialogue? And how many of those movies have exploding boxing gloves? Just try to watch the opening sequence above and not be completely psyched for the pumped-up flick to come.


2. Montages!

We all know that the best part of any sports movie is the montage, and Rocky IV doesn’t give you one measly montage. There’s a recap of the previous films montage, a getting to Russia Montage, two training montages and an ending fight montage. That’s five montages! There’s probably a montage of montages snuck in there, too.


3. There’s a Full James Brown Musical Number

This movie is so packed with memorable moments, it’s easy to forget one of the first things that happens in the film: Apollo comes out to fight Drago dressed as a shirtless Uncle Sam, while James Brown and a full band play “Living in America.” To drive home the number’s patriotism, there are dancers in tuxedos and top hats, weird unitards and bowler caps, and bedazzled showgirls with headpieces for miles. Oh, and don’t forget the giant tentacled dragon statue on the stage. This is how every boxing match should start. Heck, this is how we always want to enter a room.


4. The Soundtrack

The Rocky IV soundtrack doesn’t just feature James Brown — it has rock anthems galore, all of which make you immediately want to hit the gym. From “Heart’s on Fire” by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band to “Sweetest Victory” by Touch to multiple Survivor jams, you’ll get pumped and stay pumped. Even the instrumental score rocks! Sure, sometimes it sounds like it was made on a kids Casio, but this soundtrack never quits and — to quote Robert Tepper — never takes the easy way out.


5. Abs!

Rocky IV weights

Every Rocky movie shows off Stallone’s incredible physique, but Rocky IV really ups the game. Not only do we get Dolph Lundgren mostly shirtless looking like a man machine, but we get a wide variety of scenes of Stallone doing impossible tasks. Stallone’s crazy dragon fly crunches, aka a thing no human should be able to do, automatically take this movie to the top.


6. Two words: Ivan Drago

Ivan Drago
United Artists

Not only does Rocky IV explore the global conflict between the US and the Soviet Union, but it encapsulates all of our fears of the Cold War in one perfect villain. Ivan Drago only trains with machines and science and looks like he stepped out of an Aryan Nations recruitment poster. He also only responds in short, cold phrases like “If he dies, he dies,” or “I must break you.” There’s never been a villain who we so clearly want to get the crap beat out of than Ivan Drago.


7. Rocky Makes Chores Look Badass

Rocky saw
United Artists

Rocky doesn’t need to be hooked up to machines to become the perfect fighter. All he needs are huge tires and some outdoor chores to do. No one’s ever looked cooler chopping wood and using tractor parts. Half of his training is lifting an old wagon, probably to fix a broken axle. If anything, this film inspires us to take care of that gardening work we’ve been neglecting.


8. Rocky’s Beard

Rocky IV Beard

Stallone’s beard game is truly on point in Rocky IV. And this isn’t some “I forgot to shave, here’s a little stubble” look. No, we get full out, lumberjack-style beard action. Does any other Rocky movie have our hero looking like an old Russian aristocrat? Another point for Rocky IV.


9. There’s a robot!

Again, there’s so much to Rocky IV, you probably forgot about the robot. Well, Rocky has some money now and he’s not going to spend it on frivolous things for himself. He’s going to buy Paulie a robot! The best part of this scene is how truly disturbed Paulie is by this new technology until he gives it a sexy lady voice.


10. Rocky Ends the Cold War

If you’re still not convinced that Rocky IV is the greatest, answer this question: Does any other Rocky movie bring peace between the US and Russia?

By the end of the film, Rocky rises up to beat the seemingly undefeatable Drago. He fights so well, that even the Russians begin to appreciate his skills. Then, instead of using his victory to prove America’s superiority, he gives a rousing speech of “If I can change and you can change, everybody can change!” The whole crowd goes wild, including all of the Russian government, who we assume give up Communism immediately based solely on Rocky’s words. Stallone’s call for international reconciliation through brutal fighting and a variety of montages makes this if not one of the greatest films of all time, certainly the greatest Rocky of them all.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” movie Rocky IV this Friday at 8P on IFC. 

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