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Odds: Thursday – Logy.

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We’re running a bit of a fever at the moment and probably shouldn’t be trying to write anything. Fortunately, nothing much is going on today. A few quick links:

The Guardian reports that Sacha Baron Cohen is in talks to star alongside Johnny Depp and the just-added Helena Bonham Carter in Tim Burton‘s upcoming adaptation of "Sweeney Todd." Carter will play the pie-making Mrs. Lovett (natch), Baron Cohen’s rumored to be up to play rival barber Signor Adolfo Pirelli, a role which would offer him yet another chance to flaunt an outsized accent.

Speaking of Mr. Baron Cohen, Gina Serpe at E! reports that Kazakhstan Deputy Foreign Minister Rakhat Aliyev has, in an interview with Kazakhstan Today, invited the comedian to visit the country:

"We must have a sense of humor and respect other people’s freedom of creativity," Aliyez said. "It’s useless to offend an artist and threaten to sue him. It will only further damage the country’s reputation and make Borat even more popular.

"I’d like to invite Cohen here. He can discover a lot of things. Women drive cars, wine is made of grapes and Jews are free to go to synagogue."

And yet, Kazakhstan continues to be inherently funny.

Via Empire, John Cusack is returning to both co-writing a script and playing an assassin: He’ll play a hired killer in the horrendously titled "Brand Hauser: Stuff Happens."

And Gideon Yago, perhaps sensing that MTV News host fame is fleeting, is making a move into indie film. According to Borys Kit at the Hollywood Reporter,  Yago sold his screenplay, entitled "Underdog," to Focus Features.

At the New Yorker, Malcolm Gladwell writes, essentially, about a company called Epagogix and the business of quantifying the potential for success of films in development. Most people have already shrugged and moved on, but David Poland at The Hot Button takes the bait:

Of course, most people object the idea that movies and their success can be turned into a mathematical formula in principle. The world is already filled with people who are anguished about how cookie-cutter studio filmmaking already is. So, suggestions that it should be even more formulaic are fighting words.

Anne Thompson at the Hollywood Reporter surveys the improbably consistent success of Sony Pictures Classics. We’ve always been impressed by the way (for the most part) SPC acquires the same type of films. No other distribution arm knows their niche so well, save maybe Lionsgate.

At the New York Times, Mark Russell reports from Pusan on "Crossing the Line," Daniel Gordon‘s third doc about North Korea. This one centers on James Dresnok, one of four defectors to North Korea from the US Army who because propaganda heroes for the North:

Mr. Dresnok says he is a true believer in the North Korean system. “I wouldn’t trade it for nuthin’,” he states emphatically. He is proud that two of his three sons attend the prestigious Foreign Language School in Pyongyang, saying he could never have afforded such an education in the United States. “I don’t want my sons to be an illiterate old man like me.” But he is a celebrity in North Korea, and although Pyongyang is poor by Western standards, it is the city of the elite for North Koreans. “Anyone living in Pyongyang is privileged,” [the film’s co-producer, Nick] Bonner said. “But the main force behind us was human interest.”

At The House Next Door, Ed Gonzalez is not fond of "Flags of Our Fathers":

The stink of Crash hovers over Flags of Our Fathers. A dramatization of James Bradley and Ron Powers‘s bestseller about the truth behind the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, the film is confirmation of Paul Haggis‘s predilection for exploitation and easy sentimentality. Million Dollar Baby, a good film, suffered from Haggis’s unmistakable lower-class condescension (fans of the film stumble when trying to rationalize the Fitzgerald Family Traveling Circus), and Flags of Our Fathers, adapted for the screen by Haggis and William Broyles Jr., uses a very real, largely unknown controversy as a jumping off point for a trite homily on how wars are sold to the American public. (Some will look for parallels to current events, except that would be giving the film the benefit of the doubt.) If Clint Eastwood‘s personality barely shines through it’s because Haggis’s cartoon politics strongarm the director’s vision.

Finally, thanks to Dennis Lim of (well, at the time) the Village Voice for tossing in a mention of us in his "Best local movie blog" entry (even if the title ultimately goes to in this week’s issue.

+ Baron Cohen lined up for Burton’s Sweeney Todd (Guardian)
+ Kazakhs Beckon Borat (E! Online)
+ John Cusack Is Brand Hauser (Empire)
+ Focus sides with Yago’s ‘Underdog’ (Hollywood Reporter)
+ THE FORMULA (New Yorker)
+ October 18, 2006 (The Hot Button)
+ Moving pictures (Hollywood Reporter)
+ An American in North Korea, Pledging Allegiance to the Great Leader (NY Times)
+ Laying it on Thick: Clint Eastwood’s Flags of Our Fathers (The House Next Door)
+ Best Local Movie Blog (Village Voice)

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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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