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All we are is barley in the wind.

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"I hope this Ireland we’re fighting for is worth it."
After a lukewarm critical reception at Cannes, an out-of-the-blue Palme d’Or win, and knee-jerk accusations that the film is anti-patriotic and pro-IRA, Ken Loach‘s "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" opened in the UK on Friday to both praise and a caveat-encumbered dance around what is indisputably a highly unflattering view of the British at that time.

Sukhdev Sandhu in the Telegraph places the film in "a noble and very English tradition of dissent that
reaches back past Cobbett and Defoe right through to William Langland." Jonathan Romney at the Independent is more measured, allowing that:

While few of Loach’s regular viewers would have problems accepting his views on the Spanish Civil War or Nicaragua, it’s harder for the average liberal broadsheet reader to accept unquestioningly this film’s presentation of the heroism of the early IRA and the brutality of British forces in Ireland in 1920. And whether or not the portrayal of British violence is accurate, the question that a critic must ask – at the risk of seeming a bourgeois aesthete – is whether this portrayal is dramatically effective.

Romney, attempting to approach "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" purely from a cinematic perspective (and coming up with a strange and apologetic review), finally concludes that "This is Loach’s most provocative film in ages, and it’s also among his most dramatically compelling. And it is so for reasons that transcend the strict limits of its argument: Loach might question the terms of this analysis, but if ‘The Wind That Shakes the Barley’ demands to be seen, it’s as much for its poetics as for its politics."

Mark Kermode in the Observer takes a similar approach, first noting Barry Ackroyd‘s lovely cinematography, then going on to commend the film (which he calls "more melancholic than defiant") while noting that "one can and, indeed, should argue about the politics." Peter Bradshaw at the Guardian gives the film three stars out of five, and writes that "[t]he film’s final cadences are ones of misery and bitterness and rage, and all this, coupled with what is sometimes a slightly inert dramatic language, do not make for an easy watch. But it is a finely made, finely acted piece of work."

At the London Times, James Christopher is ecstatic:

This is Loach at his creative and inflammatory best. The scale of his historical thriller about the armed struggle to get the British out of Ireland in the early decades of the 20th century dwarfs anything the veteran director has attempted before. The budget barely extends beyond brown tweeds and flat-caps, but the ambition is awesome. If anger fuels Loach’s best work, he exceeds himself here. His view of the colonial Brits as greedy, swaggering sadists is unhindered by a single complimentary frame. The controversy is as ripe as rotten stilton, and Loach’s critics are up in arms.

Still no word on a US distributor for the film, alas.

+ Powerful – but never preachy (Telegraph)
+ The Wind That Shakes the Barley (15) (Independent)
+ Another cry for freedom (Observer)
+ The Wind That Shakes the Barley (Guardian)
+ The Wind that Shakes the Barley (London 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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