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Midweek review round-up: Dear Wendy, Koji Wakamatsu, Chaos.

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Jamie BellThomas Vinterberg is the reason the Dogme 95 movement amounted to anything — 1998’s "The Celebration" remains fresh long after the novelty of cinematic vows of chastity was gone, a gothic excursion into the dark secrets of an upper-crust Danish family, unexpectedly lovely in golden natural light and luscious shadowed hallways. But since his international hit he’s bobbled around with an experimental live improvised film for Danish television, an admittedly lovely music video for Blur in which he used night vision to film the band sleeping, and 2003’s complete departure from anything Dogme-ish, "It’s All About Love," which has been sitting on our DVR for weeks and which we just can’t seem to motivate ourselves to watch, despite the fact that it’s partially about ice dancing.

Either way, we’ve always thought Vinterberg was worth watching out for, and were particularly distressed to see that for his latest, "Dear Wendy," which premiered to unexceptional reviews at Sundance this year, he seems to have thrown himself in front of the derailed train that is Lars von Trier, taking a script by his fellow Dogme-founder and making one of the anvil-obvious parables set in small-town American town von Trier is so fond of recently. "Wendy" opens here on September 23, but it’s in UK theaters this week, and the reviews are less than stellar. The most positive one is from Sukhdev Sandhu at the Telegraph, who finds it lovely and bewildering, "a fascinating anti-masterclass in the always fraught dynamics of the writer-director relationship." Philip French in the Observer is equally ambivalent, James Christopher, in the Times, a little harsher, because he’s such a fan of "The Celebration" and "Dogville," "283 minutes of the best cinema I have ever seen." Anthony Quinn at the Independent sees Vinterberg as having lost his way, while Peter Bradshaw is the hardest on the film, largely because of the participation of Jamie Bell, Britain’s great post-child hope, who danced en pointe into harmless arthouse success as "Billy Elliot," and who now, grown into an awkward, less photogenic teen, has moved into playing disaffected American outcast youths.

Over at the Japan Times, Mark Schilling reviews "17-Sai no Fukei — Shonen wa Nani o Mita no ka (Scenery of Seventeen — What Did the Boy See?)," from radical filmmaker-turned-pink film maker Koji Wakamatsu. Based on the true story of a teenage boy who killed his mother with a baseball bat and fled north on his bike for 17 days until he was caught by the police. The film recreates the boy’s journey, supplying his thoughts in captions and narration. Schilling also interview the director ("I want people who see the film to go out afterward with their friends to a coffee shop or bar and argue with each other about what Wakamatsu was trying to say.").

And, over at the New York Times, Laura Kern reviews "Chaos," a film we also got to see not to long ago. When a film’s ambition is to be "the most brutal film ever made," judging it on normal standards of quality is profligate — nevertheless, as Kern points out, the most shocking thing about the film is ultimately how painfully it denies that its anything more than a clumsy remake of "The Last House on the Left" (which is, of course, itself a remake of sorts of Ingmar Bergman’s "The Virgin Spring"). The filmmakers’ chutzpah seems to the most noteworthy thing here — by loudly disparaging the exploitation classic they’ve copied, they’ve angered many fans into furiously bashing their own film, getting it more attention than most not-particularly-well-done low-budget grindhouse flicks even see.

+ Beautifully shot (Telegraph)
+ Dear Wendy (Observer)
+ Dear Wendy (Times of London)
+ Dear Wendy (15) (Independent)
+ Dear Wendy (Guardian)
+ Troubled youth on a road to nowhere (Japan Times)
+ No easy answers (Japan Times)
+ Looking a Lot Like ‘Last House on the Left’ (NY Times)

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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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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