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DID YOU READ

Odds: Thursday – An auteur argument, 151 combined years, animated animals.

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"So here's something for you to argue with: Screenwriters regularly get screwed."
At the Onion AV Club, Keith Phipps and Scott Tobias discuss whether screenwriters get enough credit for their work. The film the debate centers on is, naturally, "Babel," since that very issue is what caused director Alejandro González Iñárritu and screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga to testily end their filmmaking partnership. Tobian writes (and we think many are with him here):

In Arriaga’s case, I think the "auteurs" label is appropriate, because he’s one of the few screenwriters with a distinctive voice and a continuity to his work. Yet along with credit comes blame, too. I’d argue that much of what is good about the Iñárritu/Arriaga collaborations—and everything that’s good about Babel—is Iñárritu’s dynamic, texturally rich direction and not so much the humorless machinations of Arriaga’s scripts. The best passages by far in Babel are the wordless sequences, like the disorienting pulse of sound and image in the Japanese discotheque, or the plaintive guitar that strums as an entire Moroccan village takes a wounded Cate Blanchett into its collective care. With a lesser director, I think you’ve got Crash 2, an inelegant, deeply contrived narrative about the ripple effects of violence across the globe, or some such pretentious nonsense. Noel Murray‘s review of the film declared "Hallelujah" at the news that the two were parting ways, and to that I can only add an "Amen, brother," though I’m not entirely convinced that the prudish Iñárritu will choose material best-suited to his undeniable skills as a pure filmmaker.

It’s an interesting exchange, and one that nicely illustrates one can discuss theory without losing the interest of anyone who’s a non-academic.

At The House Next Door, Matt Zoller Seitz dismantles "Harsh Times," a film that should  only intrigue those of you dying with curiosity as to what Christian Bale playing a thug is like:

Playing a white underclass hardcase who’s internalized Chicano street posturing (and learned to speak decent Spanish), he instead suggests a member of Max Fischer’s repertory company stumbling through a high school stage version of Bound by Honor – pronouncing “bullshit” as “boo-shit,” and crowing keepers like “I got a bone, Gracie!” and “Roll dat shit up!”

At the Telegraph, Tara Winter Wilson sighs over seeing Paul Newman and Robert Redford together again in photos, and then gets a little dramatic:

It’s men like Newman and Redford who make women want to give up the rat race – even, dare I say it, the desperation for equality. Why?

Because they are exceptional beings: they have morals made of steel, hearts made of gold, talent made of intelligence, and beauty made of angels. Perhaps I’m getting carried away.

Ian Johns at the London Times inspects this year’s "The Wild Barnyard Ant Bully who went Over the Hedge during Open Season":

“The similarity of some cartoons this year is undeniable,” says the director George Miller, whose eclectic career includes Mad Max, everyone’s favourite talking pig Babe, and now the Warner Bros cartoon Happy Feet. He admits that when his animators began work on the film, they tended to do low-rent imitations of hits from DreamWorks and Pixar, the CG brand leader behind Toy Story, Finding Nemo and The Incredibles.

What would Walt do? At the Guardian, Jonathan Jones makes the claim that Disney was "one of the great American artists of the 20th century."

Disney’s supreme achievement was to give visual reality to the fairytales of the Europe that Americans growing up in the 1930s and 40s no longer knew, as their immigrant parents had. Of course, we can buy the original transcripts of peasant tales by the Grimms or Charles Perrault, or read retellings by Angela Carter. Yet Disney reached into folklore, grasped its essentials, and represented it for the modern child. When it comes to Snow White, can anyone separate the folk story from Disney’s version?

This strikes us a bit as forceful retroactive celebration of something that inextricable from modern culture whether it’s good or not, but it’s an interesting read regardless. And over at the Independent, Andrew Roberts reexamines another monolithic cultural icon: James Bond. Roberts looks at the first round of Bond casting, and the earlier actors who’d been considered for the role:

A few years earlier, the rights to Moonraker were owned by the Rank Organisation, which was scrutinising Fleming‘s work with a view to providing a vehicle for Dirk Bogarde, and in 1958 James Mason was even scheduled to star in a television adaptation of From Russia with Love. EON Productions founded in 1961, started by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, also considered Mason, for the first Bond movie, Dr No. Cary Grant was in the running too, but was reluctant to commit to a sequel.

+ Crosstalk: Do screenwriters really matter? (Onion AV Club)
+ On safari: Christian Bale in Harsh Times (The House Next Door)
+  Why we love them the way they were – and still are (Telegraph)
+ Toontown heads for double trouble (London Times)
+ ‘One of the 20th century’s great artists’ (Guardian)
+ The Bond bunch: the failed contenders for coveted role (Independent)

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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.

via GIPHY

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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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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