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NYFF: Drunk on Cinema

NYFF: Drunk on Cinema (photo)

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Being unfamiliar with “The Incident,” the novel by Christian Gailly on which “Wild Grass” is based, I like to imagine it this fine-boned, New Yorkeresque tale of lonely Parisians brought together by coincidence. If that’s the case, Alain Resnais’ high-strung film is something like happens when you get that story drunk and it lurches around the house, knocking things over and hitting on your host’s wife. In the New York Film Festival’s opening night selection, mad flourishes are daubed all over moments that don’t seem like they demand any particular emphasis, peculiarities abound and characters ramp up to and back away from emotional heights at perilous speeds.

The incident in question is a minor one that brings into contact two strangers, but the connection catches and holds, leading to a bemusing love affair. Marguerite Muir (Sabine Azéma), a dentist whose passion is aviation, has her purse stolen when out shoe shopping, and George Palet (André Dussollier) finds her discarded wallet in a parking garage and is intrigued by the photo on her pilot’s license. Despite being long-married and a grandfather, he fixates on her, writing letters, calling and cruising by her apartment in a mite unstable fashion. She asks him to stop, he slashes her tires, the police (led by a charmingly oddball Mathieu Amalric) are called upon, and he seems out of her life — which, once accomplished, doesn’t turn out to be what she actually wants at all. Also in the mix are George’s patient wife (Anne Consigny), Marguerite’s co-worker and best friend Josephine (Emmanuelle Devos) and a deliberately histrionic score by “X-Files” alum Mark Snow that promises drama, romance and smooth jazz around every corner.

The title and the recurring pan through a verdant field are both a nod to the uncontrollable nature of the heart, and the free-spirited Marguerite and the buttoned-up George seem as alternately surprised, pleased and perturbed at what they’re doing as we are, generating a low-voltage turbulence that runs throughout the film. I can’t possibly do justice to “Wild Grasses”‘s dizzy eccentricity, to which there are certainly charms — I particularly liked the pushy narrator who comes and goes, prone to running off topic or dropping into a character’s stream-of-consciousness, and the two unexpected intrusions by 20th Century Fox’s trumpet theme. But there’s also a capricious quality to it all that’s as often irritating as it is appealing, culminating in a non sequitur of an ending that seems to suggest everything before was just sound and fury, and that makes me wonder, were the film not in French and the creation of a New Wave legend, if it’d be looked at less fondly as quirk.

09292009_kanikosen1.jpg“Kanikosen,” the latest feature from Japanese director Sabu (aka Hiroyuki Tanaka — “Sabu” was a character he played in an early acting role), takes its own sideways run at its source material, a 1920s proletarian novel/allegory about a worker uprising on a combination crab boat and cannery that on the surface sounds about as topical as a debate on the corrupting influence of amateur theatricals on the local aristocracy. But politics aren’t the reason for the book’s resurgence on Japan’s bestseller charts. When one man chides another for complaining about the hellishness of their working conditions, he says “You should feel lucky, work is scarce,” an admonition that sounds terribly current.

“Kanikosen”‘s urgings to reject victimhood and seize back control of the life you’re living (which I’ve just made sound awfully new age, but which are in practice both fustily heavy handed and sort of stirring) may be once again relevant in these economically downtrodden times, but Sabu’s efforts to have his adaptation reflect the fact don’t work half as well. The tone is stylized and half-joking — conversations are often broken by a smash cut to an exaggerated vision of what a character is talking about, a la “30 Rock.” The bowels of the ship, where the men sleep, bare a vague but intriguing resemblance to a capsule hotel, but the factory above reinforces the coglike nature of the workers in the eyes of their employers by having… a lot of cogs lying around. The film undercuts itself with flippancy — an early attempt at escape (of a sort) by mass suicide is played for laughs, which makes the later shift to deadly earnest speechifying hard to buy into. There’s obviously something to the story that still speaks to audiences, but “Kanikosen”‘s attempts at updating come across more often as unnecessary apologizing.

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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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