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Critic wrangle: “Chicago 10”

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“Chicago 10,” Brett Morgen’s doc about the eight anti-war protesters put on trial after the explosive 1968 Democratic National Convention, was the opening night film at Sundance last year, and finally makes it to theaters today. The doc is noteworthy for its mixing of archival footage with reenacted courtroom segments depicted in motion capture animation (à la Robert Zemeckis’ “The Polar Express”) with actors like Hank Azaria and Liev Schreiber reading the words of Abbie Hoffman and William Kunstler.

It works for Andrew O’Hehir, who, in a Sundance-dated review at Salon, lauds the way Morgen goes about “ignoring or breaking all the rules of documentary film, and by smashing the historical vitrine that has long contained these events and dragging them out into the light.” “In its best moments, and they are considerable,” he adds, “‘Chicago 10’ makes you see 1968, that near-apocalyptic year, with fresh eyes, as an extraordinary turning point in history now at least partly set free from boomer nostalgia and regret.” But most who like the film find some trouble with the animated sections. Tasha Robinson at the Onion AV Club dislikes that “Morgen can’t resist using the animation to add a surreal flair: Allen Ginsberg floats everywhere he goes, in full meditative position, and when Hoffman throws a kiss to the jury, the “camera” follows it, Roger Rabbit style… Chicago 10 is a lot of fun, but it could stand to take its subjects a little more seriously, if only because they themselves are so frequently goofy that mocking them is complete overkill.” For EW‘s Owen Gleiberman, the vocals are the issue: “Every line is spoken with a stagy rim-shot vitality, as if Morgen had to keep reminding us that the trial wasn’t just a trial — it was theater, man! What you miss is how the defendants, in that dull bureaucratic courtroom, became bound, in spirit, to the world they were attacking.” The animation “looks rather cruder than your average PS3 game,” notes Glenn Kenny at Premiere. “But never mind. The material is incredibly compelling.”

Andrew Sarris at the New York Observer notes that he turned a comfy 40 in 1968 and remembers the year all too well. And, in fact, most of the review is about that, until he eventually allows that “Still, it wouldn’t hurt anyone, young or old, to catch up on the fascinating history lesson.”

J. Hoberman at the Village Voice notes the film is a “deliberately ahistorical treatment,” and finds it doesn’t quite grasp its era: “However authentically chaotic, Chicago 10 is insufficiently frenzied.” And A.O, Scott at the New York Times is less charmed: “The problem is that ‘Chicago 10’ seems wholly unwilling to examine the limits of its view of history, or indeed to engage any sense of history beyond the superficialities of rhetoric and image… If you really want to know what the ’60s were about, you’ll do better to look elsewhere.”

[Photo: Brett Morgen’s “Chicago 10,” Roadside Attractions, 2007]

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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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