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Cardboard lightning bolts of the gods.

Cardboard lightning bolts of the gods.  (photo)

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As we’ve been told again and again in the run up to “Avatar,” it took James Cameron 15 years to make his movie because he had to wait for the technology to catch up to what he saw inside his head. So it stands to reason that he’s not the only filmmaker who’s been thinking about what was impossible to film even ten years ago and is now rifling through the archives for ways to take advantage of the technology that’s finally here. And maybe that’s why everyone’s decided it’s finally time to get Greek mythology right.

That’s the gist of Geoff Boucher’s LA Times trend piece. The movies in question themselves aren’t much to think about: there’s the stupid upcoming “Clash of the Titans” remake and the even more tepid “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” in which a young boy meets the gods in Manhattan, becomes a hero, etc. (a summary that reminds me of “Hercules in New York”).

After that, Boucher has to stretch for examples — “Battlestar Galactica” “had plenty of references […] and planets named after the Greek zodiac” — but that’s okay, because his key point is solid: mythological fantasies with gods and lightning bolts are coming back because of “their potential in this digital-effects era.” In other words, the opportunity to employ hundreds of diligent f/x laborers to conjure up centaurs and various fantastical happenings.

I can see the pragmatic appeal here for Hollywood execs, but I wonder what’s to be gained even in terms of pure impressive technology. We’re approaching a zero hour for CGI, which can do a lot of amazing things now in creating the illusion of real tactility and sense of weight in its fabricated fantastical creatures. That has the potential downside of making the fantastical mundane.

12142009_clashofthetitanas.jpgWe’re a long ways from the swords-and-sandals cheesefests of the ’50s and ’60s, but I think there are still things to be gained from lo-fi f/x. I don’t just say that out of the usual kneejerk fanboy preference for old-fashioned dated stop-motion so beloved of “Clash of the Titans” fetishists. As (sometime IFC guest critic) Mike D’Angelo pointed out recently writing about the “Large Marge” sequence in “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure,” “We’re accustomed by now to seeing apparently real objects undergo a convincing metamorphosis–it’s easily shrugged off, no matter how impressive. Stop-motion’s jerky frame-by-frame process remains oddly unsettling.” True, so when you’re portraying the uncanny, wouldn’t you want to do it in an uncanny way?

I’m not rooting for all stop-motion all the time — the original “Clash of the Titans” isn’t that great either — but something along those lines would be exciting. Debased Kabuki theater? Doing it “Dogville” style, with the set suddenly morphing into CGI terrain at odd moments? Having all the gods played by people and the people played by CGI?

That gap between the familiarity of the source and the oddness of how it ends up being represented on screen would be interesting. Instead, we just get a villainous Steve Coogan running around New York and random lightning bolts. Not nearly as cool.

[Photos: “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” Fox 2000, 2010; “Clash of the Titans,” Warner Bros. Pictures, 2010]

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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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