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DID YOU READ

“The Good, the Bad, the Weird,” “The Losers” and “Boogie Woogie”

“The Good, the Bad, the Weird,” “The Losers” and “Boogie Woogie” (photo)

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For better or worse, we live in the age of the action homage, in which popular filmmakers clutch their self-awareness like a talisman against their fears of the unknown — whether manifested through the sublime referentiality of “Inglourious Basterds” or the neurotic mimicry of “Watchmen.” What to make, then, of a film like Kim Ji-woon’s “The Good, the Bad, the Weird,” which initially seems disastrously ill-conceived but quickly develops an unholy energy all its own? You kind of want to hate it — do we really need another goddamned love letter to Spaghetti Westerns? — but dear lord, how it moves.

It helps, of course, that Kim isn’t really interested in making a Western so much as mixing together a bunch of action styles and seeing what comes out. The film, set in 1940s Manchuria, gives us a trio of Korean badasses in search of hidden treasure, each of them seemingly from a different movie — a goofy, motorcycle-riding thief (“The Host”‘s Song Kang-ho, “the weird”), a stoic, cowboy-hatted bounty hunter (Jung Woo-sung, “the good”) and a deranged thug dubbed “the Fingerchopper” (Lee Byung-hun, duh, “the bad”). Not far behind them are Japanese occupying forces and a herd of mounted Mongolian bandits. The overall effect is something closer to what might happen if you crossbred the unhinged aesthetic of a “Mad Max” film with one of those eager-to-please, star-studded 1960s zany adventure comedies, like “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” or “The Great Race.”

04212010_goodbadweird2.jpgIt’s an unwieldy concept, to be sure, but for all its characters and subplots, “The Good, the Bad, the Weird” has an infectious briskness. Kim blocks, shoots and cuts action with both uncommon speed and clarity — two virtues that usually work in opposition, but seem to go together here. When the film works — and it works best during an early train robbery sequence and a climactic, comically endless chase through the desert — it’s like a little cinematic perpetual motion machine. You don’t want it to stop because when it does, you’ll have to focus on that derivative story and on those paper-thin characters. Luckily, it doesn’t stop very often.

There’s a germ of an idea here, too, beyond Kim’s desire to give us a giddy rollercoaster ride (which, let me add again, he does). That aforementioned genre dislocation has purpose: The director posits a world in which national loyalties are fluid, and where nobody seems to know what they’re fighting for. Spaghetti Westerns did that too, but their audiences didn’t need to be told that what they were watching was their own reflection — directors like Sergio Leone and Sergio Corbucci understood that the underlying nihilism of their characters was a given. Kim acts like he just discovered cynicism — and, unlike with his delirious action sequences, he fails to make it his own.

04212010_thelosers1.jpgI know virtually nothing about the Vertigo comic that “The Losers” is based on, so I can’t speak to how Sylvain White’s film adheres to the “mythology” (ugh) of the original — which, as I understand, was itself a reboot of an earlier DC comic set during WWII. Nor can I really speak to whether White (whose previous film was the step dancing drama “Stomp the Yard”) has brought his own style to the film or just pulled a Zack Snyder and transposed the comic’s aesthetic to the screen. But he, along with writers Peter Berg and James Vanderbilt, have done one thing quite effectively, which is to capture that unchecked-id quality that draws teenage boys to comic books in the first place. “The Losers” may not be a particularly good film, but it is unapologetic in its candy-colored visuals, deployment of lame wisecracks and drool-worthy shots of Zoe Saldana writhing in her underwear while bullets whiz all about her. It’s almost endearing. Almost.

But most of the time, it’s annoying. The Losers are a ragtag team of wisecracking CIA black-ops guys who find themselves betrayed by an enigmatic superior named Max (who should probably be a disembodied voice but quickly turns out to be Jason Patric). One blown-up helicopter (and 25 dead children!) later, our guys decide to let the world think they’ve been terminated, opting to hide out in a small Bolivian town whiling away the hours getting drunk and watching cockfights. Enter slinky, slow-motion-y Aisha (Saldana), a mysterious hottie who enlists them to help her destroy Max.

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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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