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Toronto 2010: “Dirty Girl,” Reviewed

Toronto 2010: “Dirty Girl,” Reviewed (photo)

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Reviewed at the 2010 Toronto Film Festival.

It wouldn’t be fair to the filmmakers behind “Dirty Girl” to ignore the fact that after it became the film to score one of the richest distribution deals thus far at this year’s Toronto Film Festival, a target was placed on its back. With that said, I now know what it must felt like to have been part of the audience for the film’s first press screening of Joel Schumacher’s drama “Twelve” where it had been jeered and laughed at only to discover days later it had been bought for $2 million. As a comedy, “Dirty Girl” has precious few laughs, but delivers the same sort of shock — I could’ve gone the rest of my days happily without seeing Dwight Yoakam simulate ejaculating on his prized Cadillac with a garden hose during a gratuitous car wash scene or the sweaty striptease of portly newcomer Jeremy Dozier clad in “Flashdance” regalia, doused in water in front of a confederate flag.

If “Dirty Girl” made me feel anything, it was a sense of empathy for the poor people of Oklahoma, where the film is set and the folks are broadly drawn by writer/director Abe Sylvia — and I’m an alum of the University of Texas. Like an extended middle finger to middle America, Sylvia injects as much venom as possible into the story of Danielle (Juno Temple), a promiscuous teen in 1987 Oklahoma whose class assignment of a family tree leads her to look for her long-gone father.

Why she’s doing an assignment like this in high school is questionable, since I remember such projects well behind me by the time the 3rd or 4th grade rolled around, but it’s convenient for the story since Danielle is old enough to drive, which is important when she and her gay classmate Clarke take off in his father’s aforementioned Caddy for California where she believes her pops resides. Unpopular at school and even less so at home where Clarke’s homophobe dad (Yoakam) and Danielle’s Mormon soon-to-be stepfather lay down the law, only the mothers (Milla Jovovich and Mary Steenburgen) care enough to look when they flee Norman.

09182010_DirtyGirl3.jpgDisguised as a satire of quaint Midwestern values, “Dirty Girl” plays out like any angry tirade, where passion soon gives way to lapses in logic and reckless disregard for anything that doesn’t move the story forward. While Dozier and Temple clearly give their all to their roles, the characters are hopelessly inconsistent.

Dozier’s Clarke, the fat kid with jowls like a bulldog who battles with awkwardness at school, is liberated once he’s out on the road, free to proposition a stranger in a gas station stall by complimenting his Bugle Boy jeans (not for sex initially, but where it leads is far more ridiculous). Likewise, Temple’s Danielle spends the first half of the picture taking pride in her sluttiness as a badge of honor, only to be offended when a hotel manager (Brian Baumgartner) suggests she’s a whore in the second, presumably because the film can’t play off of it anymore for cheap gags.

The only reason you can never really know where “Dirty Girl” is headed is due to Sylvia’s ability to take a cliché and overdo it to the point where other filmmakers would’ve stopped — there’s more than one striptease, the ’80s soundtrack heavy on Melissa Manchester is overbearing, and tight closeups are employed for some of the mildest conversations. The height of hilarity in the movie is the changing expressions on the sack of flour Danielle and Clarke carry around as their baby as part of their school assignment, but even then, it’s a case of diminishing returns. (On an unrelated note, the whole film looks like it was shot in a haze, which is even more of a surprise when discovering cinematographer Steve Gainer was also responsible for the excellent vérité look of fellow TIFF title “Super.”)

09182010_DirtyGirl2.jpgOf course, films less skilled technically than this have gotten by on the strength of their script, but “Dirty Girl” subsists on a steady diet of filthy language pouring out of Temple’s mouth and flamboyant dialogue from Dozier, neither of whom can overcome the general strain of nastiness inherent in the material. Sure, we’re supposed to root for Clarke and Danielle to find themselves on the road, but when Danielle tells Clarke early in the film, “I don’t want your AIDS on my couch,” you’d think it would take more than a day or two to become BFFs as they do.

Similarly, no amount of feathered hairdos or break-ins of Teena Marie’s “Lovergirl” (which allows for a sing-along moment on the drive to Fresno) can dress up the fact that “Dirty Girl” is pretty empty at its core, a film that would like to be about self-empowerment when it ultimately reinforces the attitudes that breed self-contempt. Some may call “Dirty Girl” sharp and edgy, and that’s their right, but I found it downright dull.

“Dirty Girl” was picked up by the Weinstein Company and will play once more in Toronto on September 18th.

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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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