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Opening This Week

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03102008_blindmountain.jpgBy Neil Pedley

This week, our cup runneth over with a “Karate Kid” knockoff, a shot-for-shot remake and more documentaries than Michael Moore can shake an overpriced hot dog at.

“Blind Mountain”
The recipient of plenty of acclaim at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, director Li Yang has a casual yet immediate style that’s been touted as something of a Chinese answer to Ken Loach. “Blind Mountain” offers an uncomfortable but powerful indictment of China’s one child policy and the sex trade that has flourished under it. The film follows the desperate struggle of a young woman who accepts a job in a remote mountain village, only to discover that she has unwittingly been sold into marriage as a slave.
Opens in New York.

Before anyone had heard of Angelina Jolie, model-turned-actress Rhona Mitra was the original face of “Tomb Raider”‘s Lara Croft. Ten years later, she’s traded in pixels for pictures as the lead in director Neil Marshall’s post-apocalyptic fusion of “Mad Max” and “Escape From New York,” playing the head of an elite commando unit tasked with finding a cure for a deadly virus plaguing Scotland.
Opens wide.

“Flash Point”
Director Wilson Yip teams up with Donnie Yen to retool the tried and tested Hong Kong cop thriller formula with the “Iron Monkey” star playing an undercover cop looking to bring down a deadly Vietnamese crime syndicate headed by three dangerous brothers. In addition to his acting duties, Yen choreographed the film’s innovative fight sequences, which combine six different fighting disciplines into what the action veteran hopes is the dawn of a new breed of martial arts film.
Opens in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“Dr Seuss’s Horton Hears A Who”
After the very adult “The Number 23,” Jim Carrey puts his quest to be taken seriously on hold to voice Horton the Elephant, who protects the tiny Who civilization from the predators of the jungle. Steve Carell and Carol Burnett also lent their voices to this playful animated adventure based on the Dr. Seuss book from Blue Sky Animation, the team behind the “Ice Age” series and “Robots.”
Opens wide.

“Funny Games”
Austrian writer/director Michael Haneke remakes his own 1997 German-language film of the same name, which tells of a vacationing family at a lake house who become the victims of a home invasion by two malevolent teenagers bent on a series of cruel and torturous games. Tim Roth and Naomi Watts face off against Brady Corbet and Michael Pitt in this darkly comic thriller. Despite being a shot-for-shot remake of the original, the U.S. incarnation earned an R rating while the 1997 “Funny Games” was never granted an MPAA rating. Apparently, everything really does sound that much scarier in German.
Opens in limited release.

“Meat Loaf: In Search of Paradise”
An official selection of the Montreal Film Festival, this all-access documentary takes us into the private world of one of rock’s most enduring stars as he takes to the road for his 2007 “Seize the Night” world tour. Director Bruce David Klein captures a frank portrait of the musician’s frequent battle with depression, exhaustion, personal demons and declining health as he’s faced with the prospect of calling time on a 35-year career and countless millions in record sales. In other words, it’s your typical rock doc.
Opens in New York.

“Never Back Down”
With the massive explosion in mainstream popularity being enjoyed by the UFC and mixed martial arts, it’s amazing this movie took so long to arrive. “Never Back Down” seems a Pat Morita cameo away from being “Karate Kid V: The Octagon”: Sean Faris stars as Jake Tyler, the new teen in town who gets his head handed to him by the local badass when he tries to chat up a girl. Tired of the endless beat downs, Jake seeks the sage advice of a retired fighter (Djimon Honsou) who trains Jake to get his revenge at the upcoming local tournament.
Opens wide.

“On Broadway”
Premiering at the Independent Film Festival of Boston to rave reviews before working its way down the New England coastline, “On Broadway” is writer Dave McLaughlin’s directorial debut. The film follows Boston carpenter Jack O’Toole (Joey McIntyre) as he attempts to reach out to his estranged father by writing a play inspired by the death of his beloved uncle. “On Broadway” boasts a strong supporting cast that includes the likes of Eliza Dushku, Robert Wahlberg (brother of Mark & Donnie) and “Saturday Night Live”‘s Amy Poehler.
Opens in Boston.

Visual effects wrangler Bill Maher (“Mars Attacks,” “Batman & Robin”) makes his directorial bow with this drama about a family struggling to reconnect. Nick Stahl stars as James, a man forced to confront his long-buried demons regarding his father (Dennis Hopper) after his older sister, Joleen (Charlize Theron), abandons her 12-year-old daughter (Anna Sophia Robb), leaving her in his care.
Opens in limited release.

“Sputnik Mania”
On the heels of the well-received “In the Shadow of the Moon” comes another doc about the space race, this time about the American reaction to the launch of Sputnik, the former USSR’s first Earth orbiting satellite. Liev Schreiber narrates David Hoffman’s elegant, detailed story of how new technology inevitably leads to new terror and how that technological innovation impacted our entire way of life, then and for the 50 years that have followed. “Sputnik Mania” was the recipient of an International Documentary Association Award for best use of news footage in a documentary.
Opens in New York.

“Towards Darkness”
A slick and intricate abduction thriller, “Towards Darkness” is a non-linear chronicle of the events of 90 minutes in the life of a kidnap victim from a multitude of different perspectives. Roberto Urbina stars as Jose, the terrified victim who contemplates his life and seemingly imminent death while his father Carlos (Tony Plana) tries to secure his release with the aide of some covert American mercenaries. Director José Antonio Negret draws on the numerous personal tragedies of his own family for his directorial debut, which also stars and was executive produced by “Ugly Betty” herself, America Ferrera.
Opens in New York.

“War Made Easy: How Presidents & Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death”
Filmmaker Jeremy Earp joins forces with Loretta Alper to continue his exploration of the media’s symbiotic relationship to politics and their complicit role in selling war to the American people. Sean Penn narrates what is Earp’s third film on the subject, which employs archival news footage spanning 50 years of American foreign policy, illustrating the parallels between Vietnam and the Iraq war as they argue that the more things change…
Opens in New York.

“Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Nightclub”
For over 12 years, the Tribeca-based Wetlands Preserve Rock Club provided a venue for a unique fusion of music, environmentalism and political activism that brought people together in celebration of free spirit and independence. The club helped birth such classic acts as the Dave Mathews Band, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, and many more, all the while funneling their profits into environmental and humanitarian causes all over the world. Filmmaker Dean Budnick makes his debut bringing us the untold inside story of this legendary establishment and the people who helped to make it so.
Opens in New York; Opens in Los Angeles on March 28th.

[Photo: “Blind Mountain,” Kino, 2007]

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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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