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DID YOU READ

Eight to anticipate at Sundance 2010.

Eight to anticipate at Sundance 2010. (photo)

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“REBEL: This is the renewed rebellion. This is the recharged fight against the establishment of the expected. This is the rebirth of the battle for brave new ideas. This is Sundance, reminded. And this is your call to join us.” That’s the first thing you see when you visit Sundance’s website, where the 2010 festival lineup was unveiled a few hours ago.

Well, like, color me skeptical. Still, there’s always stuff to look forward to — based on nothing more than sifting the line-up for prior track records, guess-work and early reviews of stuff that’s already premiered, here’s eight to anticipate if you’re lucky enough to make it out to Park City this January:

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
“Lucky” (Jeffrey Blitz)
The premise isn’t extraordinary — “The story of what happens when ordinary people hit the lottery jackpot” — but a lot of people loved “Spellbound” and sadly ignored “Rocket Science,” Blitz’s uneven but often quite funny/moving narrative take on adolescent awkwardness. Since then he’s been killing time directing episodes of “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation,” which can only be a good thing: more documentaries could use sharp comic timing. It’ll be a crowd-pleaser anyway.

“Smash His Camera” (Leon Gast)
Leon Gast has a truly all-over-the-place resume — anyone want to come over and watch all 131 minutes of “The Grateful Dead,” a concert doc from 1977 co-directed with Jerry Garcia? But in 1996 he gave us “When We Were Kings,” one of the sharpest, most rhythmically attuned uses of archival footage to capture a world-historical moment — Ali/Foreman, 1974 — in all its dimensions, be they cultural, musical, pugilistic or just Muhammad Ali rapping about the importance of flossing. Gast’s subject this time is Ron Galella, paparrazo extraordinaire. Wikipedia’s career highlights include being “punched in the jaw by Marlon Brando in Chinatown, beaten up by Richard Burton’s bodyguards in Mexico, hosed down by friends of Brigitte Bardot in Saint Tropez, [having] his tires slashed by Elvis Presley’s guards in Queens and [being] sued twice by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.” Hopefully Gast will get his editorial rhythm on and tie together 50 years of pop cultural time-surfing into something intoxicating rather than dutifully plodding, rushing through footage and highlights.

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
“Holy Rollers” (Kevin Taylor Asch)
OK, listen: “A young Hasidic man, seduced by money, power and opportunity, becomes an international Ecstasy smuggler.” Sounds like a New York profile stretched to dubious length; also, the screenwriter is Antonio Macia, whose other feature credit — “Anne B. Real” — is ranked #48 on IMDB’s “Bottom 100″ and is described as the coming of age story of a young female rapper, who finds her inspiration by reading the Diary of Anne Frank.” So there’s reasons to be wary. On the other hand, it stars Jesse Eisenberg, currently our reigning champion for interpreting nervous young men on the cusp of life-changing moments. I’ve personally watched him almost single-handedly rescue Fred Durst’s “The Education of Charlie Banks”; there’s pretty much nothing he can’t do at this moment. Or, you know, it could just be “The Wackness.”

“Lovers of Hate” (Bryan Poyser)
Bryan Poyser was an up-and-coming cause célèbre when I left Austin, alongside other scene mainstays like Kyle Henry, Alex Karpovsky and Bob Byington. 2004’s “Dear Pillow” received good reviews all round from trustworthy types for its non-sensational portrayal of an 18-year-old’s friendship with the fiftysomething ex-porn director next door, apparently avoiding the twin traps of hysteria and quirkiness. “Lovers of Hate” has a cast that includes Karpovsky — hilarious in both “Beeswax” and “Harmony and Me” — and will perhaps be Poyser’s break-out feature. Also, it’s cute that Sundance is dipping its big toe into something that could vaguely be classified, by virtue of cast-list alone, (sorry guys) “mumblecore.” Welcome to the party guys; what took you so long?

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
“Last Train Home” (Lixin Fan)
Chinese documentary cinema is pretty much where it’s at right now — cf. Jia Zhangke’s documentary work, NYFF 2009 selection “Ghost Town” — and I’m told we’re not even close to scratching the surface at this point. Lixin Fan’s doc follows factory workers struggling to get home to celebrate the new year, which sounds like a perfect micro premise for a macro portrait of contemporary China and its disconnect from area to area. indieWIRE‘s Eugene Hernandez caught it at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (where it won best feature length doc) and noted its “stunning” cinematography, which bodes well: unlike their US counterparts, Chinese docs (the few I’ve seen, anyway) tend to have a formalist jones that serves them well.

“The Red Chapel” (Mads Brügger)
This is just nutty, and sounds like a joke: “a documentarian and two comedians walk into North Korea…” But it’s not. If nothing else, this will be some extremely rare footage of one of the world’s most tightly sealed countries. But — by all accounts — this is also one seriously twisty piece of work, where the original agenda of making hay devolves into an ethical query about what’s happening, not just a travelogue. Like, is it OK to use a comedian with a speech impediment to confuse the authorities? Is this brave or just grandstanding? I can’t wait.

“Secrets of the Tribe” (José Padilha)
Padilha’s 2002’s “Bus 174” was a super-rigorous piece of cultural and media analysis, working through a one-day bus hostage situation in Rio de Janeiro. 2007’s “Elite Squad” won the Golden Bear at Berlin, but a lot of people I know accused it of being fascist, and for 2009’s documentary “Garapa” Padilha admitted he’d let his impoverished, malnutritioned subjects starve from the camera before turning it off and throwing them some cash, which is ethically shaky, to say the least. But he’s fearless in the face of controversy, which is what makes him perfect to do a documentary about academic anthropologists arguing about potential exploitation of Amazon Basin Indians. No, seriously: this is a big deal (anyone who’s had to take an intro to anthropology class knows this), and his instincts will surely be for the visceral and passionately argued rather than the academic.

WORLD CINEMA NARRATIVE COMPETITION
“Four Lions” (Christopher Morris)
Strictly because it’s directed by Christopher Morris, who’s a huge deal in the UK for his work on shows like “The IT Crowd,” writing one of Steve Coogan’s first big hits (“The Day Today”), etc. Armando Iannucci’s leap from small-screen comedy to features (“In The Loop”) rocked Sundance (and my world) last year. So I’ll take this one on faith.

[Photo: “The Red Chapel,” Zentropa 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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