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“Twelve,” i.e. “Poor Little Rich Kids, Waanh-Waaaaanh”

“Twelve,” i.e. “Poor Little Rich Kids, Waanh-Waaaaanh” (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Directed by Joel Schumacher (“Batman and Robin,” “The Lost Boys”), “Twelve” is unquestionably the funniest film at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival; if only it had been made with that intention. “Twelve”‘s ham-handed ineptitude is part of the joke — on Schumacher, on audiences and on any distributor brave or foolish enough to pick it up in an attempt to turn this sow’s ear into a camp classic. Based on the novel by Nick McDonell, “Twelve” follows a group of poor little rich kids on Manhattan’s Upper East Side as they deal and/or do drugs in an effort to fill the emotional voids in their privileged lives. It is not merely that, in the age of “Gossip Girl” (which shares actor Chace Crawford with “Twelve”), the wicked behavior of pretty boys and girls is fairly played out; this stuff was milked dry decades ago by better writers like Bret Easton Ellis (“The Rules of Attraction”) and Jay McInerney (“Bright Lights, Big City”) and in better films. Lowering the age of the protagonists and upping the depravity of the conduct is not ripping the veil off of a hidden world; it’s skeevy pandering, a ‘How low can you go?’ exercise in attention-getting.

Crawford plays White Mike, a familiar literary figure — the sad drug dealer who doesn’t use, wandering the streets of Manhattan with a coat full of weed, a heavy heart and immaculately tousled hair. We first meet White Mike as our gravelly, omniscient narrator (Kiefer Sutherland) tells us exactly what White Mike is thinking and feeling in the wake of his mother’s death. Our narrator will do so with every character who crosses our path — the hottest girl in school, the sensitive mama’s boy, the ‘roided-out rage case and even Molly (Emma Roberts), the true love of White Mike’s life. But White Mike can’t talk to Molly, since he’s a drug dealer, and she comes from a better world than that; we know this because at one point we see her calling White Mike sitting among falling autumnal leaves in a blue gingham dress.

01242010_Twelve4.jpgMuch of the plot of “Twelve” involves a fictional new street drug — called, yes, “Twelve,” which is apparently instantaneously addictive and a lot of fun; Schumacher shows the drug’s pernicious effects in a scene where Jessica (Emily Meade) sprawls out in a fur coat and lingerie while her childhood collection of teddy bears exhorts her to go on a killing spree. I am not making this up, nor could I. As events culminate in a big blowout party that ends in tragedy, the cumulative effect is like a mix of “Elephant” and “Can’t Hardly Wait,” as Claude (Billy Magnussen) opens fire on the crowd at the birthday bash queen bee Sara (Esti Ginzburg) has flattered and seduced Claude’s mama’s boy brother Chris (Rory Culkin) into hosting while his parents are away.

Schumacher’s ambitions and pretentions are in a breakneck race to the bottom here. Occasionally, for moments of even deeper portent, we’ll see characters and a few stark props recreate past events against a blinding white background, suggesting Schumacher has at least heard of Bertolt Brecht, or maybe someone described “Dogville” to him once somewhere.

01242010_Twelve5.jpgSchumacher, at 70, is kidding himself if he thinks he has any attachment to or understanding of the lives of real teens, and screenwriter Jordan Melamed’s adaptation results in a final product that feels less like a film than a book-on-tape played over a well-shot sparkling wine commercial, as pretty things prance and cavort while the narrator’s gravelly, all-knowing tones tell us of the sadness and doom they face. It’s good to have it confirmed that Schumacher is incapable of making any film work regardless of scope, scale, genre or intent; from big-budget blockbusters to small indies, horror films to heartwarming dramas, he’s failed in every conceivable arena. “Twelve” is one of those Sundance flops so full and complete that it’s sure to be the stuff of legend; the only thing that made my laughter stop was contemplating which actual film didn’t get into the Festival when Schumacher’s tired, wired, “Requiem for a Gossip Girl,” been-there-done-that high-gloss phony fantasy of truly bad behavior and truly great haircuts could be undeservedly elevated, literally and figuratively, by screening it at Sundance.

“Twelve” does not yet have U.S. distribution.

[Photos: “Twelve,” Gaumont/Original Media/Radar Pictures, 2010]

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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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