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This week sees an impressive list of heavy-hitters make a late December showing as Clint Eastwood and Peter Jackson deliver their latest, Werner Herzog assembles the unlikely pairing of Udo Kier and Verne Troyer, and Tom Ford unveils his directorial debut.

“According to Greta”
Hilary Duff adds the title of executive producer to her résumé by backing the feature debut of veteran music video director Nancy Bardawil. After demonstrating a dark side on “Gossip Girl” this season, Duff continues to shed her good girl image as a rebellious 17-year-old who proves to be too much of a handful for her mother (Melissa Leo) and is sent off to spend the summer on Jersey Shore with her grandparents (Ellen Burstyn and Michael Murphy), to whom she promises she will kill herself by her 18th birthday. In the midst of plotting her suicide, she begins a romance with a troubled short-order cook (Evan Ross) who leads her to rethink things.
Opens in Los Angeles.

“Invictus”
Oscar season just wouldn’t be complete without a Clint Eastwood drama, and the Old Master shows no signs of slowing down despite being just a few months shy of his 80th birthday. He confounds expectations once more by trading the despair and tragedy of “Changeling” and “Mystic River” for hope and triumph with a drama cooked up from such unpalatable ingredients as racial politics, funny accents and unfathomable foreign sports. Having tried in vain for many years to bring Mandela biography “Long Walk to Freedom” to the screen, Morgan Freeman finally realizes his dream of playing the iconic leader in this adaptation of John Carlin’s account of the 1995 Rugby World Cup, during which time Mandela made the audacious gamble of uniting his fractured nation behind their underdog team, led by captain Francois Pienaar (Matt Damon), on the unlikely chance that they could go all the way.
Opens wide.

“The Lovely Bones”
If any director is capable of infiltrating a big studio Oscar-baiter born out of weighty literature and smuggling out an art film brimming with ideas, then surely Peter Jackson is that man. Marrying the grisly subject matter that first garnered him acclaim with the ethereal, other-worldly spectacle that has come to define his recent work, Jackson, along with co-writers Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh, bring to life Alice Sebold’s somber bestseller about a sadly all-too-literal heavenly creature, embodied here by the young “Atonement” star Saoirse Ronan. The unfortunate victim of a terrible murder, Ronan’s Susie Salmon peers down at her family from a celestial purgatory as her grieving mother and father (Rachel Weisz and Mark Wahlberg) struggle to move on, and her inconspicuous killer (Stanley Tucci) prepares to murder again.
Opens in limited release.

“My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done?”
Not waiting around for a distribution deal after it puzzled some audiences in Toronto, Werner Herzog’s second film of ’09 and his first collaboration with David Lynch (who’s an executive producer) stars Willem Dafoe as a detective who treads lightly onto the murder scene of the matriarch of the McCullum family (Grace Zabriskie). After being implicated in her death, her son (Michael Shannon) locks the doors to his own home across the street and takes hostages, all the while Herzog lingers on supporting players ranging from Udo Kier to Chloe Sevigny to Verne Troyer. Lynch is self-distributing through his Absurda label.
Opens in New York.

“Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year”
Given India’s status as the call-center capitol of the world, it’s somewhat surprising that the workplace comedy isn’t a more prevalent genre in Bollywood cinema, though the gray, soul-sucking cubicle isn’t perhaps the first stop on the quest for escapism. Still, Bollywood powerhouse Yash Raj Films wistfully blends office doldrums with a swaggering, hip-hop sensibility, courtesy of “Chak De! India” director Shimit Amin. Ranbir Kapoor stars as the eponymous desk jockey whose disillusionment with the suit and tie brigade leads him to brainstorm an idea to make the fast-exploding Indian economy work for him for a change (and no doubt sing about it). In Hindi with subtitles.
Opens in limited release.

“A Single Man”
Colin Firth gives what’s being touted as a career best performance as the linchpin of Gucci guru-turned-first-time director Tom Ford’s adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s seminal gay novel where the Hampshire fuddy-duddy portrays a crushingly lonely fellow on the verge of suicide after the loss of his longtime companion (Matthew Goode) in a car accident. In the foreign sands of Santa Monica, Firth’s British ex-pat George quietly goes about putting his affairs in order on what he plans to be his final day, set to culminate with a dinner at the home of his old flame and confidant Charley (Julianne Moore), but before he can execute his carefully laid out plan, his head is abruptly turned by a sultry student (Nicholas Hoult).
Opens in limited release.

12072009_ViciousKind.jpg“The Vicious Kind”
The sophomore effort from Lee Toland Krieger shares executive producer Neil LaBute’s questioning of the delicate dance between genders with a blackly comic tale of Caleb, a construction worker (Adam Scott) who chaperones his brother (Alex Frost) and his brother’s new girlfriend Emma (Brittany Snow) to Thanksgiving eight years after their mother’s death. Things get complicated when Caleb attempts to dissuade his brother from seeing Emma, first because of his distrust of women following a recent break-up and then because he starts to feel attracted to Emma as the holiday wears on. Scott and Krieger recently picked up Spirit Award nominations for best actor and best screenplay, respectively.
Opens in Los Angeles.

“Yesterday Was a Lie”
Metaphysical sci-fi noirs don’t come down the pike too often, but James Kerwin’s has been in the works since 2006 and premiering first at the Park City Film Music Fest in 2008 before a two-year festival run. Kipleigh Brown stars as Hoyle, the enigmatic gumshoe who is as much of a mystery to herself as the case she’s trying to crack when we’re first introduced to her, but begins to find an identity as she investigates the death of a diplomat and finds that her latest job has literally universal implications. Sharp-eared NPR listeners might want to pay attention for the voice of Robert Siegel, who has a small cameo.
Opens in Los Angeles.

[Additional photo: Adam Scott in “The Vicious Kind,” 72nd Street Productions, 2009]

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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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