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Opening This Week

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03172008_boardinggate.jpgBy Neil Pedley

SXSW recently concluded a week-long unveiling of some of the best and brightest new talent that indie film has to offer, but that didn’t deter established players from forging ahead with the fine traditions that have this week brought us an Owen Wilson kiddie comedy, a poker mockumentary and an imitation of whatever Asian cinema was doing four years ago.

“Boarding Gate”
Three-time Palme D’Or nominee Olivier Assayas delivers a sleek and sexually charged thriller that stars the irresistible Asia Argento as a gal on the run from Europe to Asia as she indulges in affairs with both Michael Madsen’s high-flying financier and the hit man sent to target him. If you can take your eyes off of Argento, keep one eye open for a supporting turn by Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon.
Opens in limited release.

“Drillbit Taylor”
Judd Apatow tries to appeal to the kiddie crowd with this slapstick comedy co-written by Apatow associate Seth Rogen about a troupe of high school nerds who hire Owen Wilson’s bungling bodyguard to protect them from bullies. While Wilson’s apparent suicide attempt in August 2007 has made this a hard sell for Paramount, the film is filled with funny faces including Leslie Mann, Danny McBride and Lisa Lampanelli. Indie film fans should take note of the casting of Alex Frost as one of said bullies — he played a bullying victim turned assassin in Gus Van Sant’s controversial 2003 film “Elephant.”
Opens wide.

“The Grand”
We’ve been spared a Will Ferrell jai alai satire (so far), but there are few sports that have yet to become the basis of a sports comedy. In this most recent example, “The Grand” lampoons poker’s newfound image as the coolest game in town with a variety of numbskulls and deluded wannabes competing for the grand prize in a tournament at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. In addition to a galaxy of poker’s finest players dealing themselves into the action, the film boasts a cast including the likes of Woody Harrelson, Ray Romano, Cheryl Hines and (yes!) Werner Herzog.
Opens in limited release.

“The Hammer”
Perhaps it’s fitting that the reunion of “Kissing Jessica Stein” writer/actress Heather Juergensen and director Charles Herman-Wurmfeld is for this bizarre but affectionate comedy about second chances. Did we mention it stars “The Man Show”‘s Adam Carolla? The radio host reportedly drew from his own life experience to pen the story and to star as Jerry Ferro, an ex-amateur boxer turned construction worker who decides to put the gloves back on and launch a bid for Olympic glory as he approaches 40.
Opens in limited release.

“Love Songs”
Novelist, playwright and children’s author Christophe Honoré continues the renaissance of the modern day musical with this tale of young love in Paris starring Louis Garrel and Ludivine Sagnier as a couple who attempt to kick start their stalled romance with a ménage-a-trois that only succeeds in complicating matters further.
Opens in New York.

“Meet the Browns”
Tyler Perry may not be earning cred with the critics, but he has snagged his first Oscar-nominated lead in Angela Bassett, who stars in Perry’s latest parable as a woman struggling to hold her family together following the death of her father, who she never knew. Audiences might already know about “the Browns” from its run as a play in 2004, but after a two-film absence, Lionsgate is hoping an appearance by Perry’s signature character, Madea, will be cause for celebration.
Opens wide.

“Planet B-Boy”
Filmmaker Benson Lee makes his debut with this colorful documentary looking to shed some light on what he feels is the criminally misunderstood phenomenon of break dancing. Lee takes us around the world, charting the history of the dance, its relationship to martial arts, its courtship by pop culture and its free-flowing, improvisational nature as a form of self-empowerment and free expression. Frankly, we’re in favor of anything that makes us feel less ashamed of loving “Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.”
Opens in limited release.

Jonah Markowitz writes and directs this melancholic tale of self-sacrifice and forbidden love that was an acclaimed staple of the gay and lesbian film festival circuit last year. Trevor Wright stars as Zach, a young man forced to put his life on hold to care for his younger brother. When love blossoms between himself and his best friend’s brother, Shaun (Brad Rowe), Zach is torn between his obligations to his family and the hopes and dreams he still harbors for himself. If nothing else, the art direction should look great — Markowitz cut his teeth in the art department on films ranging from “Saw” to “House of Sand and Fog.”
Opens in limited release.

Now that Hollywood has exhausted the Japanese horror genre, the producers behind “The Ring” and “The Grudge” have turned their attention to Thailand with this remake of Banjong Pisanthanakun’s 2004 thriller of the same name. A young couple (Joshua Jackson & Rachael Taylor) honeymooning in Tokyo discovers ghostly images lingering in their vacation photographs. Incidentally, the U.S. is not the first country to remake “Shutter” — last year, the Tamil film industry adapted a version of their own, entitled “Sivi.”
Opens wide.

“Under the Same Moon”
While the immigration debate rages on all around us, filmmaker Patricia Riggen’s tender family portrait focuses on the loving bond between mother and child that even thousands of miles of separation cannot break. After his grandmother passes away, a young boy has no choice but to risk the treacherous journey across the U.S. border in the hope that he and his mother can be reunited. This is Riggen’s first dramatic feature, following her debut documentary that received a short filmmaking award at Sundance 2005.
Opens in limited release.

[Photo: “Boarding Gate,” Magnolia, 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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