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Going the Distance

Going the Distance (photo)

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The only authoritative voice of Israeli filmmaking prior to the recent influx of micro-masterpieces — let’s see if it constitutes a “wave” — Amos Gitai has had a rocky time of it. He’s dared to iron-maiden his audience with hyper-long one-shot sequences and elaborate camera roamings, he’s seduced Natalie Portman into doing an Israeli film right after “Closer” and the second “Star Wars” prequel, he’s made “Kippur” (2000), an indisputable home run that explored the soldier’s experience of the Yom Kippur War. On the other hand, and at the same time, many of his films have been broad, goonish and didactic, and for the most part, his approach toward the Palestinian question has been to not have one. His new film, “One Day You’ll Understand,” is an all-French probing of the Euro-legacy of the Holocaust, so Gitai has again avoided his own nation’s actions in a post-Holocaust world. But it is at the same time his best movie — it’s as if hanging with all of these French heavyweights (stars Jeanne Moreau, Hippolyte Girardot, Emmanuelle Devos, cinematographer Caroline Champetier) slowed him down and sobered him up. The movie is something of a haunting itself, deliberately as elusive and elliptical as the past, slipping away as it is with the last survivors of the ’40s.

The first shot is symptomatic: we track along with a raincoated businessman (Girardot) across a small urban square, a wall passes between us, then another, and this one is covered in carved names, too many to read, and then we meet him again in what is the new Holocaust Memorial in Paris, commemorating the Jews deported to the Nazi camps with the French government’s collusion. This sense of lingering guilt and rot pervades the film, and Gitai keeps his camera moving, constantly following characters but being separated from them by walls and partitions of all kinds. Girardot’s visit to the Parisian wall to touch a name is, we figure out much later, a flash-forward; next, we see it is 1987, the Klaus Barbie trial is enveloping the news in France, and Girardot’s brooding lawyer is trying to decipher a mystery: what exactly had happened to his maternal grandparents, Russian émigrés who disappeared into the camps, while all his life his mother has said nothing about it, and had in fact raised him and his sister (Dominique Blanc) Catholic.

07142009_OneDayYou'llUnderstand2.jpgThe mystery eventually gives way to consideration of the last days of Moreau’s elderly, evasive, cosmopolitan mother, and in the meantime, Gitai fashions a series of breathtaking one-shot set-pieces: a tour of a village hotel that harbored the lost grandparents, floor to floor, room to room, given by a local man who remembers the war; a wake gathering in which Girardot’s benumbed son paces and rehearses his eulogy with considerable ambivalence; a late patrol around an office in which Girardot distractedly explores with two Holocaust-compensation lawyers how much his dead family was worth materially; and so on.

The mise-en-scène is never ostentatious or unnecessary; the movement and framing provides a kind of ongoing color-commentary to the action. Gitai’s film (the French title of which translates simply to “Afterwards”) treats time like a dream — years pass in a cut, 1987 gives way to 1995 to 2005 — and though the characters’ lives are not divulged to us in detail, the acting is mesmerizing. Nobody explodes, which makes the pressurized control of Girardot and Blanc all the more affecting. Moreau, of course, is in an iconic class by herself, not acting so much as simply defining her place in the last half-century of international culture. Gitai’s expressive, restless camera all but steals the show, though, even in the final shot, a declarative j’accuse aimed at the heart of France that is undoubtedly justified but also suggests that Gitai has some homeward-looking work to do about the reality of his native land.

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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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