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Yo ho, yo ho, a critic’s life for me.

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"It's the greatest movie I’ve ever seen..."
At his blog, Dave Kehr writes about the New York Daily News’ decision not to renew the contract of film critic Jami Bernard, and then rants about the paper in general:

During my tenure at the news – seven years that I keep hoping will
disappear down an Ambien hole and never disturb my troubled sleep again
– Jami and I suffered unbelievable interference from the editorial
higher-ups, all of whom seemed to believe that they were vastly more
capable of registering the “populist” perspective on a given film (in
DN speak, “populist” is a term of art meaning “barely sentient”) than
the people they’d somehow (and clearly, mistakenly) hired as experts on
the subject. I recall one managing editor flying off the handle because
Jami had failed to recognize the cultural and aesthetic importance of
“Sudden Death,” a 1995 Jean-Claude Van Damme film about terrorists
taking hostages during an NHL game (if only we had listened then!).
“It’s the greatest movie I’ve ever seen,” the editor announced,
betraying not a hint of irony. One editor-in-chief became notorious in
our small department for rejecting any review of a Disney film that
suggested something less than complete enthusiasm, on the ground that
the DN was a family newspaper and Disney – an indisputable fact – made
family movies. Hence, no possible grounds for criticism.

Awesome! We’re not particularly a fan of Ms. Bernard’s work, but we loathe this trend of moving away from staff critics — a key part of the pleasure of reading reviews is coming back to someone’s writing again and again.

At The House Next Door, Jeremiah Kipp interviews Film Freak Central‘s acid-tongued (Er, penned? Er, keyboarded? Curse you, metaphors!) and very smart Walter Chaw:

JK: How would you respond to the perception of you as a “bomb-thrower”, or a guy who employs hyperbole to get a rise out of people?

WC: Is that the perception of me? I think that’s the easy way out of assessing what it is that I actually write about in my work. Maybe I don’t succeed—I certainly don’t for those folks. Let me say that in my mind the “guys who employ hyperbole to get a rise out of people” are the Earl Dittmans and Jeffrey Lyons and Larry fucking Kings of the world who call every neo-Stanley Kramer piece of leaden dreck that floats down the bilge the “best film of the year” or “a masterpiece” or “the first great. . . of the year”. When I look at what I write (and I seldom have to, thank god), I hope that what I’m seeing there is a real, throbbing outrage at films that are out to do harm and, on the other side, a real live joy at films that feed me. Stuff that’s just out to make money off of easy stereotypes and nakedly shilling to robotically-demarcated demographics of imaginary people – and looping back around, here, offering up all this feckless garbage to the blind eyes of the vast majority of the critics in lofty positions that I (if no one else) hope are manning the gates—makes me exhausted.

This is older, but we missed it the first go-round: at, Aaron Aradillas interviews Entertainment Weekly‘s Lisa Schwarzbaum:

[W]hat I don’t get is this:
years after Kael’s death, why are we still talking about Kael vs.
Sarris as if choosing a team color is Topic A? As if, indeed, any
serious movie critic must declare a team in order to play? Why does the
mention of Kael, in particular–and the declaration for or against on
the part of an army of male critics (it’s predominantly men who get het
up about the subject)–still generate so much ink? I’m being a little
provocative here for the sake of, oh, I don’t know, pantsing the
keepers of the flame, but I’m also serious: The humorless orthodoxies
of the competing teams baffle me.

And New York‘s David Edelstein has an immensely entertaining dispatch about serving on a Tribeca Film Festival jury with Rosie Perez and Moby.

+ Another One Bites the Dust (
+ Keep up, or get out of the way: an interview with film critic Walter Chaw (The House Next Door)

+ Entertaining Weekly (
+ Tribeca Jury Duty (New York)

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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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