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Empty Calories

Empty Calories (photo)

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Director Guy Ritchie’s talent for stirring violence and barely concealed homoeroticism remain very much on display in “Sherlock Holmes,” his first period piece and most flagrant effort to start a new franchise. But for all the film’s wit and zing, there’s no momentum — we get a series of stirring, entertaining scenes, but they never add up to a complete story. It’s a series of desserts with no main course.

Robert Downey Jr. stars as an eccentric, cerebral Holmes whose fighting style reminds us why some call boxing “the sweet science.” (One of Ritchie’s coolest moves is to break down the sequence of blows with which Holmes plans to subdue his opponent before the sleuth actually does so.) Holmes’ longtime companion… make that bosom buddy… make that close friend, Dr. Watson (Jude Law), is getting married and moving out of their Baker Street digs, but Holmes barely has time to pout, since it appears that Lord Blackwood (Mark Strong), a sinister practitioner of the occult, has somehow resurrected himself following his recent execution and is once again terrorizing London.

“Sherlock Holmes” doesn’t expect you to solve the case — there are tons of throwaway moments that wind up being important clues that the movie doesn’t explain until Holmes’ big summation speech at the end — and besides, the real mystery here is how a movie can be so exciting and so inert at the same time.

12232009_SherlockHolmes2.jpgThe presence of Rachel McAdams as a notorious woman from Holmes’ past is also puzzling; she’s an interesting young actress, but completely miscast. For a 19th century dark lady, she’s too much the spunky girl. (Eddie Marsan of “Happy-Go-Lucky” fares better as the bumbling Inspector Lestrade.)

Holmes’ legendary nemesis Professor Moriarty is threaded throughout the film in an obvious set-up for a sequel, and while the chemistry between Downey and Law makes such a prospect promising — Law gives one of his most relaxed and engaging performances ever — whoever’s responsible for “Sherlock Holmes 2: The Quickening” needs to let the characters breathe and the story build in what will, with any luck, be a less frenetic movie than this one.

Some critics are savaging Nancy Meyers’ “It’s Complicated” for being wealth porn in an era of economic downturn, but that hardly seems fair — would you have denied Depression-era audiences such love-among-the-mega-rich spectacles as “Midnight” (1939) or “My Man Godfrey” (1936)?

The movie has a bigger elephant in the room, but more on that in a moment. The farcical plot centers around Jane (Meryl Streep), who kicked out her husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) years earlier for cheating on her. Now, she owns a successful bakery while he has a hot young trophy wife (Lake Bell) and a rambunctious stepson. On a trip to New York for their son’s college graduation, Jane and Jake have a few drinks, get nostalgic and wind up engaging in a mutually satisfying one-night stand.

12232009_ItsComplicated8.jpgSuddenly, these friendly exes are sneaking around having an affair, and while Jake considers leaving Wife #2 for the original model, Jane finds herself being courted by Adam (Steve Martin), the nice-guy architect who’s renovating her kitchen. (And this isn’t a “Brothers”-style renovation, where the kitchen goes from non-existent to functional; in Meyers-land, a phenomenal kitchen must be turned into a gargantuan one.)

Here’s the elephant that the movie never addresses: What Jake obviously loves more than either wife is the cheating. He did it to Jane before, and now he’s doing it to the second wife (who has a name, but the movie dehumanizes her so much there’s no point in looking it up). Jane even gets a tacit thumbs-up for the affair from her therapist, but it should be obvious to her that what’s really stoking their liaisons is the fact that they’re on the sly. And the character, as presented (and certainly as portrayed by Streep), should be smart enough to figure that out, especially when Jake starts talking about remarriage.

Streep and Baldwin have tremendous chemistry, while poor Martin does what he can with what amounts to the Ralph Bellamy role, and the three of them make this bit of inconsequential fluff far more fun than it has any right to be. Students of corporate synergy will love the fact that the Universal release features two of NBC’s biggest stars — Baldwin and John Krasinski — blowing pot smoke into each other’s mouths; top that, Disney.

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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.

via GIPHY

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…

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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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