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District 9-1-1

District 9-1-1 (photo)

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The original “District 13” was made in 2004 and set in Paris of the year 2010, which means if the French are going to fulfill producer/writer Luc Besson’s vision of walled up ghettos, racial and class warfare, and shirtless dudes leaping from rooftop to rooftop, they’d better get their butts in gear. “District 13” was entirely, utterly of its moment; even if problems in the real French banlieues haven’t eased, that moment has largely passed. “District 13″‘s parkour chase scenes and customized hot rod cars would look dated even if its sweeping social changes weren’t scheduled to occur two weeks ago. Yet here is a sequel, “District 13: Ultimatum,” which faithfully continues the first film’s aesthetics and story, a vision of futures past.

Surprisingly, the out-of-time quality wears well on the series. Divorcing the film from its timeliness also divorces it from its inflated sense of self-importance, freeing “Ultimatum” to have more fun with its premise than its predecessor. The sequel is only 100 minutes long, and the first 20 minutes don’t contain even a hint of a plot; Besson and director Patrick Alessandrin (replacing “Taken” filmmaker Pierre Morel) take that time leisurely reintroducing the series’ protagonists — banlieue revolutionary Leito (David Belle) and idealistic supercop Damien (Cyril Raffaelli) — in separate action sequences.

02032010_District13-3.jpgBesson and Alessandrin show off this installment’s improved sense of humor immediately in a scene that shows Damien going undercover (in drag!) to arrest a powerful mob boss. No one would ever confuse the muscular Raffaelli for a stripper, so the filmmakers cut back and forth between wide shots of a feminine body double and close-ups of the definitively masculine action hero. The effect, like something out of a Zucker brothers’ film, is hilarious. Once discovered, Damien is forced into a fight involving the rescue and protection of a priceless work of art that’s better than any of the martial arts sequences in the original film.

Morel brought a choppy editing style to the first “District 13″‘s action; he even went so far as to remove frames from impact shots to enhance the intensity of the blows. But stylish editing doesn’t necessarily equate to satisfying fight sequences. In martial arts movies, every cut is a cheat; the fewer the cuts, the more skillful the director, the performers and the choreographers. Alessandrin lets the action sequences breathe, and enables us to fully appreciate the talent of Raffaelli, who serves as his own fight choreographer.

Eventually, a sliver of a story appears, as Leito and Damien are once again put up against a ticking clock and the impending destruction of District 13. This time around, shady government officials try to wrest control of the banlieue away from its rightful occupants in order to turn the area into gentrified high-rise housing. The company that’s been hired for the construction job? Who else but Halliburton (or “Harriburton” as it’s called here). “It’s just like in Iraq!” one character remarks with righteous indignation. “Exactly,” another replies, “except they’re French.”

02032010_District13-1.jpgObviously, this is a film that does not take itself too seriously. Which is good, because no film that takes itself seriously could get away with the things that “District 13: Ultimatum” gets away with, including a stunt set-piece where a car drives up the single most conveniently placed ramp in the history of cinema in order to drive through the upper floors of a police station. That one shot sums up the movie nicely: totally implausible, totally excessive, and yet — totally satisfying.

Parkour, the discipline of leaping, jumping, spinning and diving through one’s environment, doesn’t have nearly the cultural cache as it did in 2004, but it still provides “District 13: Ultimatum” with an endless stream of setups for impressive stunts. Our heroes get into one inescapable predicament after another — like, say, breaking into prison with no discernible plan for how to break back out — then lets them use their parkour skills to do the impossible. It’s a feat almost as impressive as making a movie about parkour seem cutting edge in the year 2010.

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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

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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