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Color My Life With The Chaos of Trouble

Color My Life With The Chaos of Trouble (photo)

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Like the rest of us, critics like to be taken seriously, and so post-teen romantic comedies like Marc Webb’s “(500) Days of Summer” can have a tough time receiving top-shelf adjectives. It’s safer to hold high an austere import or socially-conscious “issue” drama. The problem is, for all of its borrowings, there hasn’t been a movie quite like Webb’s in a very long time, if ever.

“(500) Days of Summer” shimmies through a delicate life-passage terrain few movies have explored with intelligence — Joan Darling’s “First Love” (1977) comes to mind, and a great Korean film still to see the light of day here, Hur Jin-ho’s “One Fine Spring Day” (2001) — and does it with what seems to be an inexhaustible gas tank of invention, brio, naturalistic wit and love.

It’s this last thing, love, that fills the movie up like a zeppelin — love for its characters and for tale-telling and for what we dream of love stories to be and for what they really are. Plus, a love for The Smiths, “The Graduate,” bouncy small talk, karaoke, the parts of Los Angeles you never see in films (thank God), the ’60s, being young and heartbroken, and the way light shines through Zooey Deschanel’s baby-blue irises. Because the love is genuine and not three-dollar-bill fake as it is in most American movies, the experience is invigorating, like a B-complex injection on a warm spring day.

01042010_500Days2.jpgThe welter of details fire-hosing out of the movie would be enough to win us over: the conscientiously fable-like narration (which builds evidence for the very special “averageness” of Deschanel’s Summer by explaining how her yearbook quote of Belle & Sebastian spiked record sales in Michigan that year), the teeming animated detours (love the architectural sketches, but the cartoon songbirds might’ve been too much), the spray of specific cultural references, the now-famous post-coital dance number, the half-lit karaoke perfs that make the protagonists irresistible in each others’ eyes. And so on. (An offhand argument re: “Octopus’s Garden”: “I love Ringo,” “C’mon, nobody loves Ringo,” “That’s what I love about him.”)

It would’ve been easy to be happy with the film if it was just a mess of this stuff, but it’s a densely structured movie, a fugue between the romance’s early dizziness and its later terminal agonies, bouncing back and forth from early in the 500 days to late, and often revisiting the same moments over and over, corresponding them to others. And a case could be made that for all of its cleverness Webb’s film runs on old-fashioned movie star charm, located and nurtured like orchids — easy to kill, but beautiful when respected.

Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt have lovely, self-conscious, secret-keeping, fast-talking characters to play and they play them like a thoroughbreds; I especially liked the degree to which both Summer and Levitt’s Tom did things without understanding why, and how the two actors let those moments crackle with mystery. You believe these kids, which makes their enjoyment of and amazement with each other heroically seductive.

01042010_500Days3.jpgBut you step back a bit, and “(500) Days” has a larger dialogue to have with us and the culture we’re in — specifically, about the mileage between now and the ’60s, and how for Summer and Tom’s generation an idealization of the supercool free-love past is a way to manage the empty-hearted present. Which is cinephilia, isn’t it? The catnip alt-rock soundtrack is contemporary, until the movie’s final suite, under Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bookends,” when the relationship is dying on-screen but no one says anything about it.

The film is saturated with movie-love, in an expressly Godardian way — why can’t I go through a week without dropping the G-bomb? — comically referencing “Breathless” as well as Anna Karina’s coif. But the key to the hidden levels is “The Graduate,” which is used wittily at first as a flashback riff: the narrator tells us that, as a child, Tom accrued a warped sense of cosmic romance from British pop songs and “a total misreading” of Mike Nichols’ 1967 classic. Hardy har, until the end, when Tom and Summer go to a revival of the movie, and at the climax, Summer is left weeping for the wrecked promise of perfect love she always knew was a lie, and Tom still holds on blindly to the dream.

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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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