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“Gone Baby Gone”

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By Matt Singer

IFC News

[Photo: “Gone Baby Gone,” Miramax, 2007]

We hear Patrick Kenzie before we see him, as he narrates images of his blue-collar neighborhood. “This city is haaaahd,” he says, and if the visuals don’t give away the setting, that thick Boston accent sure as hell does. Patrick tells us he believes that the things we don’t choose — where we grow up, who our friends are — are the things that really make us who we are. “Gone Baby Gone” is about the process by which Patrick discovers he is wrong.

The film is actor Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, as well as his first return to screenwriting since his Academy Award winning script for 1997’s “Good Will Hunting,” and it is an impressive one. There are similarities to “Good Will Hunting” and other movies — most notably “Mystic River,” which is also based on a Dennis Lehane novel set in working-class Boston — but the movie stands on its own, as a thriller that, like the recent “Michael Clayton,” is more concerned with the morality behind its thrills.

Affleck doesn’t appear in the film, but his brother Casey plays Kenzie, a tough private investigator with a deceivingly youthful exterior. Kenzie has a reputation around his neighborhood for his connections to people who won’t speak with the cops; he’s hired, along with his partner and girlfriend Angie (Michelle Monaghan) by the family of a missing girl to augment a police investigation led by Captain Jack Doyle (Morgan Freeman) and Detective Remy Bressant (Ed Harris). The cops often underestimate Kenzie — when Bressant first meets him and Angie he snickers, “I was expecting an older couple” — and it’s easy to see why. He’s 31 and looks at least five years younger and Affleck’s fragile voice (which is higher than Monaghan’s) cracks in a way that suggests a state of suspended pubescence. But Kenzie knows this place, has access to its secrets, and hints, occasionally, at a past that was probably as dark as the men he’s chasing.

Most of “Gone Baby Gone” is about character rather than action, but there are two bravura sequences, and in each Affleck (working with veteran cinematographer John Toll) distinguishes himself with a knack for building, sustaining and then releasing tension. Instead of relying on a noisy soundtrack to provide emotional cues, Affleck conveys excitement and suspense through silence. In the midst of a terrifyingly bloody siege of a drug den, Affleck turns down all the sound until all we hear is Kenzie’s frantic breathing. The camerawork is often handheld in a way that recalls “Children of Men” — long takes that never sacrifice clarity for the easy intensity that comes with shaky shots. And the screenplay is littered with brilliant little nuggets of hardboiled morality (“Murder’s a sin.” “Depends on who you do it to.”).

When Doyle and his cronies dismiss Kenzie for his youth they also assume his innocence equals naïveté. “You don’t know what the world is made of yet,” they warn. They may be right; Kenzie has a much different understanding of morality after he follows the kidnapping plot through to the end. The movie is littered with tough choices but the worst comes at the end of the movie, when Kenzie has to make a decision in which neither option is right or wrong. We watch as he weighs the alternatives and then we watch further as the repercussions of his actions begin to ripple through his life. The film’s film shot lingers long enough on its subjects to remind us that it’s the choices we make — and how we live with our choices — that define us. That great last shot shows Kenzie finally understands. He’s made his choice and he’s prepared to do what he must to see it right.

“Gone Baby Gone” opens in limited release October 19th (official site).

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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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