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Conquest of Paradise

Conquest of Paradise (photo)

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The cabin of the outdated 757 grew dark as we passed through storm clouds on our descent into Jamaican airspace. Everything on the decrepit air ship began to creak and moan. The cathode ray tube screens from the 80’s anchored to the ceiling shook with either Howie Mandel or colored static, it didn’t make much difference. My stomach dropped into my balls, then tried to leave my body through my throat. I tried to focus on a point on the ceiling that wasn’t in motion and noticed it was so antique it actually had a patina. A woman up in first class screamed. I wondered how many internal parts had patinas too and which ones were chaffed, ready to spark and blow a wing off.

I grabbed the skymall catalogue and began frantically paging through it, looking for frivolous household products to ogle. I find that soothes me during tumultuous landings, and this was the worst. But one can’t help wondering what the hell we need all that for when plummeting toward an island where many people live with little more than love, music and great coffee. Or do they? I thought about that jerkoff Christopher Columbus. Then Ridley Scott’s “1492: Conquest of Paradise” flashed before my eyes. Scored by the great Vangelis (“Chariots of Fire”, “Bladerunner”), it’s my favorite film about genocide. Gerard Depardieu’s Columbus is more enlightened than the facts of history seem to dictate. But even if he was the passionate and relatively tolerant adventurer who treated indigenous nobles with respect, he helped pave the way for those who did not.

The fact is Jamaica, which Columbus landed on after first landing in “San Salvador,” was once an Arawak Indian paradise. The island’s name comes from the Arawak word xaymaca, but not a single Arawak remains on it. Modern day Jamaicans, like most other Caribbean nations, are descendants of former African slaves and European settlers, the original people wiped off the face of the earth for lust of gold, coffee, tobacco and spices.

Vangelis‘ compositions are sometimes too big and showy, sometimes too heavy handed in 1492 – here feel this way now. But in a way, he expertly captures the sound of holier than thou gold farmers setting out with bad breath to subjugate those they deem inferior (while pilfering their superior resources). The hymnal humming warms up the main theme while adding to the manifest destiny vibe, without which the score may sound too synthetic. Vangelis relies heavily on electronics, and while that’s perfect for hunting down “skin jobs” in flying cars it would be detrimental to a late medieval period piece.The soundtrack was more successful than the long winded film, which I suspect played to blind eyes. We do still celebrate Christopher Columbus, which is nothing short of baffling. If you thought the holocaust was bad, read up on the total genocide of these people whose island homes provided the cash crops that funded European expansion and the conquest of the “New World.”

A few feet from the ground, when it was clear to the pilot that we would crash, my plane rocketed back into the exploding sky. Landing aborted, accompanied by a soundtrack of gasps and children wailing, no Vangelis. During the ensuing 30 minutes of circling through turbulence for another attempt I had time to ogle every page of the skymall. But I don’t need any of that shit. All I need is music, film, and love. And great coffee. Maybe my laptop.

“Conquest of Paradise” by Vangelis.

Hope you had a thought provoking 4th of July. No more Caribbean, I’m back and moving on…. for now.

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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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