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DID YOU READ

Death to the death of film criticism.

Death to the death of film criticism. (photo)

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Over the past five years, if not more, we’ve been treated to an endless series of articles about the “death of film criticism,” a phrase that has nothing to do with Vincent Price vengefully offing spiteful (theater) critics all the way back in 1973’s “Theater of Blood.” Price would find his cravings at least partially satisfied these days if he had an RSS feed.

Film critic firings started en masse in the summer of 2006 — the Salt Lake Tribune‘s Sean P. Means has been keeping a handy list of “the departed,” now up to 65. With the cuts have come endless bloggage, journalism and general hand-wringing over the situation. Sight & Sound devoted an issue to it a few years ago, but even that didn’t staunch the flood.

This year alone, the Chronicle of Higher Education deigned to weigh in, A.O. Scott expressed optimism in the New York Times, Big Hollywood explained it away as a byproduct of the culture wars, there was the Kevin Smith thing, and so on.

The latest salvo came from veteran media commenter Howard Kurtz, writing in the Washington Post — this, regrettably, the same day that two film critics got new prominent positions (Eric Kohn over at indieWIRE as their lead film critic, Stephanie Zacharek joining Movieline after exiting Salon), which might put a crimp in the argument.

No matter though: there’s always room for another redundant article — this some five days after Ronald Bergen’s take in the Guardian on the subject. It’s enough to make you chuckle when Kurtz quotes Entertainment Weekly‘s founding editor Jeff Jarvis: “We can’t afford repetition in journalism anymore.” Apparently we can.

You would think all the arguments would have been beaten to death; all that’s really missing is one of those videos where Hitler finds out about it. All of the arguments and hypotheses have been exhausted (victims of the decline of literacy, obsolescence in the age of online aggregation, people have finally caught on to the snobbishness and prefer to ask their neighbor Bob what he thought of “How To Train Your Dragon,” etc.). The film critic has been made a stand-in for the crisis of print journalism, and is trotted out repeatedly and asked to stand still while they are poked, prodded and anatomized once more.

04132010_ego.jpgAnd it’s become so boring that most critics are absolutely sick of it — I know I am, of the inevitable invocations of Anton Ego from “Ratatouille,” discussions about Rotten Tomatoes, comparisons with restaurant reviewers, reminders of the power once wielded by Pauline Kael and/or Roger Ebert, wistful remembrances of the ’60s and ’70s (i.e., the decades When Film Really Mattered and the whole world thrilled to Altman and Fellini). And not only is it repetitive, speculative and prone to doom, it exacerbates the problem. Think people don’t like critics now? Wait until the gossip and doom-laden chatter leaves the bars and saturates the internet.

This nuisance must cease. This isn’t the gossip industry, where the nuances of whether or not someone is pregnant/divorced/married/coked-up/whatever can be parsed infinitely with the help of a few qualifiers and ambiguously worded rumors attributed to anonymous sources. This is film criticism — a hard enough task to make exciting to general readers in the first place, and one which invariably invites people to repeat themselves ad nauseam in the comments section (as if there weren’t enough of those to go around). We won’t solve the problem of how journalism is reshaping itself in with another 800 words so close to someone else’s they’re nearly plagiarism.

[Photos: “Theater of Blood,” MGM/UA Home Entertainment, 1973: “Ratatouille,” Disney, 2007]

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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.

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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