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Review: “My Brothers,” quirky (Irish) family road trip.

Review: “My Brothers,” quirky (Irish) family road trip. (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.

“My Brothers” is the directorial debut of Paul Fraser, who’s co-written several of Shane Meadows’ films, from “TwentyFourSeven” to “Somers Town.” Watching it, I felt a renew appreciation for Meadows’ dexterity with material that flirts with but generally (and magically) avoids taxing sentimentality. “My Brothers,” alas, has no such miraculous delicacy, and takes regular dips into bathos — its premise, of three brothers who go on an impromptu road trip to replace their dying father’s broken watch, makes that practically unavoidable. The problem isn’t a lack of sincere emotion — the specifics of the late ’80s Irish setting made it clear before ever checking that the story was informed by aspects of writer William Collins’ youth — but the scaffolding that surrounds and eventually obscures it.

The brothers are 17-year-old Noel, 11-year-old Paudie and seven-year-old Scwally, played by Timmy Creed, Paul Courtney and TJ Griffin, all essentially newcomers. The watch is a cheap but treasured digital one that’s crushed, along with Noel’s wrist, by a schoolyard bully. Noel gets it into his head that he’ll borrow his boss’ rickety bread delivery van for the weekend in order to get a new one, but with his injury, he needs help shifting gears, and so he recruits Paudie. And because Scwally sees them, he ends up tagging along as well for what turns into a nearly two-day picaresque ordeal of car breakdowns, creepy pedophiles, kindly pub owners, schoolgirl sports teams and one beached whale.

04222010_mybrothers2.jpgHow children process grief is difficult but potentially rich territory, particularly over the different levels of maturity represented by Scwally, who scarcely comprehends, Paudie, who’s starting to, and who’s boisterous and faster to anger, and Noel, who’s been dragged into adulthood early by all his added responsibilities. And there are glimpses of something genuine and complicated there, from Paudie and Scwally sitting blithely on the edge of their dying dad’s bed to watch his TV to Noel’s diary, in which he’s always scribbling, and in which it turns out he speculates that the burdens of working his “shit job” in order to support the family weighed his father down.

But the journey, heavily seasoned with music queues and episodic digressions, feels purposeless, even before we learn that the boys are headed to a seedy seaside town in which the family once vacationed in order to try to win the replacement watch from a claw vending machine at the arcade. At that point, all “they’re not acting rationally because they’re sad” or “they’d all just like to forget their problems for a while” or “they’re young and not thinking things through” rationalizations were, for me, rendered moot — they left their mother alone to tend to her dying husband without telling her where they were headed, for that? That’s the kind of contrivance that would shame the worst stereotype of a Sundance movie, and that’s saying something.

“My Brothers” is currently without U.S. distribution.

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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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