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“Sympathy for Delicious,” The Stain makes mixed debut at Sundance

“Sympathy for Delicious,” The Stain makes mixed debut at Sundance (photo)

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Some of the reviews of Mark Ruffalo’s directing debut, “Sympathy for Delicious” remind me of 09’s “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” season premiere – which centered around a crime committed in the midst of a bohemian Brooklyn loft populated by young musicians. As you can imagine, the creators of that series were not up to the task of portraying such a world with any kind of realism and the whole thing was a terrible joke (I had to watch it to see Jeff Goldblum, and endless source of amusement, introduced into the series).

The whole thing relied on a muddled catalogue of bad hipster cliches and weak musician stereotypes. Worse, they were all totally outdated, as if the writers had only ever observed young people from behind tinted windows while moving at 25mph down Bedford avenue – cause that’s where they were told hip artists hang out, when really, it’s just an outdoor strip mall and tourist gallery.

I fear something similar is at work in “Sympathy for Delicious” even though the team has some serious cred. I have every faith that Orlando Bloom can play a convincing, self absorbed rocker who goes by the stage name, The Stain. Screenwriter Christopher Thornton also plays the role of the paralyzed, DJ Delicious, who discovers he has the power of healing – Thornton is actually paralyzed in real life, a fact many reviewers seem to be missing. But how well can he imagine a convincing group of rockers?

“The band and its milieu are drawn in such broad strokes, as an amalgam of rock-star cliches, that “Sympathy” has a hard time portraying the moral crisis Delicious faces in a realistic way. The caricatures are particularly jarring given the strong realist notes hit by other production elements, like Chris Norr’s artful cinematography,” writes John Defore in The Hollywood Reporter.

“The rockers consequently all slather on eyeliner, wear tight leather pants and swig hard liquor straight from the bottle and talk in a borderline nonsensical hipster patois,” Nathan Rabin at the A.V. Club seethes. “In a magnificently awful, scenery-chewing performance Orlando Bloom does a terrible impersonation of both John Lennon and Jim Morrison while Juliette Lewis devolves into sad self-parody as the group’s pill-addled bassist.”

From what I’ve seen I doubt it’s quite that bad, but I can’t argue with some of the facts. However Filmmaker magzine’s Brandon Harris had a much more positive take, “Ruffalo provides us with a truly unlikable protagonist who only earns our sympathy after some hard won lessons in selflessness and grace. While juggling the metaphysical and realistic, Ruffalo manages to steer his high and easily derailed concept to a satisfying ending.”

Montreal psyche band,The Besnard Lakes, lend their musical talents to the score. Frankly, that and from what I’ve seen of Bloom parading about as The Stain have me sold. I trust in Ruffalo and admittedly, rock and roll cliches are somewhat entertaining. I like my rockstars boozing and pill popping and all fucked up. It’s only a question of how authentic it feels.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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

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