This browser is supported only in Windows 10 and above.


“At The Movies” about as good as it could be.

“At The Movies” about as good as it could be. (photo)

Posted by on

We’re a long way from Siskel & Ebert, but the new “At The Movies” — featuring The New York Times‘ A.O. Scott and The Chicago Tribune‘s Michael Phillips — is on the air. They are, of course, the replacements for the short-lived, universally reviled duo of the Bens (Lyons and Mankiewicz); Mankiewicz himself didn’t seem to get people too fired up, but Lyons was such an aggressively stupid guy that a site specifically devoted to relentlessly dogging him (a Web site that’s the first result to pop up when you Google him no less) was the least of the protests.

There were some suggestions that Scott and Phillips were perhaps not the most naturally telegenic of hosts — two middle-aged dudes talking calmly and dispassionately about film? Filmed NPR? (A special “shut up” goes to Defamer’s Richard Rushfield for using “erudite” as if it were a pejorative and whining that the preview video suggested a kind of “The Grad School Profs Still Talking Hours After the Dinner Has Been Cleared And Not Noticing Their Wives Have Passed Out in Their Seats.” The John Hughes fan club will be here for the next decade, dude.) The early segments are in though — reviews of “9,” “Big Fan,” “The Burning Plain” and “All About Steve” — and everything looks fine.

Let’s be clear: I’m not the target audience for a show whose maximum review time for a movie is around 3:30, which is apparently all that’s allowed. Also, by the very nature of a show designed to engage a mainstream audience, Scott and Phillips aren’t going to sit around and chat about Apichatpong Weerasethakul; “Big Fan” is about as far into the arthouse they’re going to go. Which is fine, but those are the show’s terms. And, by those standards, the show is not bad at all.

There are some things that are stupid, like the intro and outro music, which sound, respectively, like some horrendously misplaced Super Nintendo cue and some tragic ’80s local news leftover. But I enjoyed the briskness of Scott’s diving into the program — “Let’s get to it and do what we came here to do” — and his predictably elegant phrasing, such as dubbing Mike Judge “our poet laureate of stupid.” Not that Scott and Phillips point out anything about “Extract” that hasn’t been noted in every single intelligent review of the film already, but how could they? There’s no time, and the point is that Scott and Phillips are perfectly capable of boiling their respectable taste into a kind of brief primer on the main talking points for mainstream releases.

I also immensely enjoyed watching Scott mock “The Burning Plain”‘s stupid jumbled chronology by delivering his review out of order: “Is her name Sylvia or Mariana? Skip it! Birds fly through the air.” I hear Phillips and Scott can be quite funny, and hopefully they’ll have more chances to loosen up and show that erudition and humor aren’t mutually exclusive. And they know how to keep it in check: talking about “9,” Scott namechecks “Eastern European animation” as a reference point, which I presume is code for “Jan Švankmajer,” which would admittedly confuse 99% of viewers. So it’s all good. While this isn’t the kind of show I’ll be watching on a regular basis, it is certainly a good thing for the overall TV landscape, and perhaps it will encourage non-cinephiles to not dismiss critics who don’t like “Transformers 2” as whiny egghead elitists. But don’t hold your breath. Here’s Scott torching “The Burning Plain”:

[Photo: “The Critic,” Columbia Pictures Television, 1995]

Watch More

Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

Posted by on
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…

Watch More

A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

Posted by on
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.

Watch More

WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

Posted by on

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

Watch More