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Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking Outside the Box (photo)

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A week loaded with oh-so-worthy awards season contenders is offset with the comic relief of Jim Carrey’s performance captured flailing, George Clooney’s self-deluded staring, and the teasing promise of an affordable(!) trip to the ballet.

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“The Box”
You could make the argument that if Richard Kelly could only get the whole world to come over to his house and listen to his record collection, he might not feel the need to make films at all. That said, his fall from grace following the flop of “Southland Tales” was so total that he went from the director anointed as the hipster’s David Lynch to the arthouse M. Night Shyamalan overnight. With much riding on this comeback, Kelly has turned to Richard Matheson’s short story “Button, Button,” previously immortalized as an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” for his source for this story of a mysterious stranger (Frank Langella) who presents a seemingly impossible moral dilemma to a financially troubled suburban couple (Cameron Diaz and James Marsden).
Opens wide.

“A Christmas Carol”
While the eerily artificial presentation of “The Polar Express” ultimately didn’t harm its box office numbers, the much-derided “dead-eye syndrome” that inhibited Tom Hanks ensured that Robert Zemeckis’ first venture into the world of performance capture films could only go up, qualitywise. Zemeckis is back for another crack at a Yuletide tale, this time with Jim Carrey donning the green-screen suit to play more than half a dozen different roles in this adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic. Most prominently, he inhabits the role of unrepentant miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who finds himself visited by ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future (all played by Carrey), imploring him to change his ways.
Opens wide in 3D and IMAX.

Have chronicled both the Yes Men and the enchanting directorial exploits of Wisconsin’s own Mark Borchardt, filmmaker Chris Smith continues to gravitate towards indelible misfits and their attempts to get the world’s attention with this documentary portrait of noted doomsayer and self-described investigative reporter Michael Ruppert. Employing the same stream-of-consciousness confessional format as James Toback’s recent “Tyson,” Smith’s film takes the form of a series of grimly disturbing monologues in which the former Los Angeles police officer makes his case for the camera as to how our misguided energy policy and unregulated financial industry will ultimately bring about the collapse of western civilization.
Opens in New York; opens in Los Angeles on November 13th.

“La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet”
Let’s face it, even in a good economy, the high ticket prices of a ballet performance ensure that the closest most of us will ever get to see some pirouetting is tossing “Billy Elliot” into the DVD player. But now, thanks to legendary documentarian Frederick Wiseman, we don’t just see the stage, but get to peek inside the hallowed halls of the Paris Opera for an intimate look at the world-renowned Ballet de l’Opera National.
Opens in New York.

With awards season in full swing, a quick glance at some of the potential Oscar-baiters confirms that this year apartheid is the new Holocaust. Focusing on the revolution as opposed to the conflict, “Vantage Point” director Pete Travis’ adaptation of journalist Robert Harvey’s book plays out far away from the political turmoil in South Africa in an idyllic country manner in Somerset, England. Brit thesp Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as ANC information director (and future South African president) Thabo Mbeki, who amidst tense negotiations with the National Party discovers a kindred spirit in Will Esterhuyse (William Hurt), a white university professor.
Opens in limited release.

“The Fourth Kind”
You’ve only got to look at the business “Paranormal Activity” is currently doing to understand why filmmakers return time and again to “found footage” and “documentary reenactment” as the medium of choice for their no-frills thrill rides. (It’s bloody cheap, for starters.) This feature debut from director Olatunde Osunsanmi (a Joe Carnahan protégé) announced itself via a meta-movie viral marketing campaign featuring star Milla Jovovich as herself. The Ukranian actress stars as Dr. Abigail Tyler, a psychologist investigating patient reports of alien abduction in the sleepy town of Nome, Alaska. Maybe we’ll get really lucky and they’ll take her husband.
Opens wide.

“A French Gigolo”
Striking a more somber note than her other recent works, this bittersweet romance from French author, actress and filmmaker Josiane Balasko offers a wounded take on the adage that money can’t buy you love, but it does allow you to rent it for a little while. What begins as a simple business attraction between Judith (Nathalie Baye), a wealthy but lonely divorcée, and Marco (Eric Caravaca), a married, working-class gigolo, gradually evolves into a deeper emotional connection, highlighting the many parallels and the hypocrisies that exist between marriage and prostitution. In French with subtitles.
Opens in New York.

“Make The Yuletide Gay”
The latest from queer cinema director Rob Williams, this gay relationship drama once again showcases that, as far as cinema is concerned, Christmas is little more than an excuse to accumulate a few hundred pairs of socks and a naff sweater from Grandma, and engage in a row with your family. Keith Jordan fronts this mug of Christmas cheer as Olaf “Gunn” Gunnunderson, a gay college student who retreats into the closet when he goes home for the holidays, only to be dragged out kicking and screaming by his boyfriend (former “Degrassi: The Next Generation” star Adamo Ruggiero), who shows up unexpectedly on the Gunnundersons’ doorstep.
Opens in Los Angeles.

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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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