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Michael Madsen Learns to Be, Zoe Kazan Explodes, and More New on DVD

Michael Madsen Learns to Be, Zoe Kazan Explodes, and More New on DVD (photo)

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“Being Michael Madsen” (2010)
Directed by Michael Mongillo
Released by Midnight Releasing

While not as distinguished or meta as “Being John Malkovich,” expect this mockumentary about the “Reservoir Dogs” star to be equally surreal as Madsen recruits sister Virginia and “Kill Bill” co-stars Daryl Hannah and the late David Carradine to co-star in this film that sees him accused of murder. Rather than sit idly by, Madsen turns the table on the paparazzi photographer fueling the allegations by hiring a trio of filmmakers to follow his every move.

“Beneath Clouds” (2002)
Directed by Ivan Sen
Released by Cinema Epoch

This Australian drama stars Dannielle Hall and the late Damian Pitt as Lena and Vaughn, a pair of strangers thrown together by circumstance to travel across the country to Sydney where Lena hopes to learn more about her long-absent father and Vaughn hope to leave behind his criminal past and see his ailing mother.

“Blood Into Wine” (2010)
Directed by Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke
Released by Dreamy Draw Releasing

Drinking was likely a part of the touring lifestyle of Tool frontman Maynard Keenan, but here he turns it into an artform in this celeb-filled doc about the vineyards he co-owns with Eric Glomski in Arizona. Patton Oswalt, Milla Jovovich, and Bob Odenkirk come by for a sip.

“By the Will of Genghis Khan” (2010)
Directed by Andrei Borissov
Released by MTI Home Video

For fans of “Mongol,” this Russian-produced epic offers another take on the life of the famed conqueror as he expanded his empire across Asia and Eastern Europe during the 10th and 11th century.

“A Call Girl” (2009)
Directed by Damjan Kozole
Released by Film Movement

A festival favorite from Rotterdam and Toronto, Kozole’s drama follows a Slovenian prostitute trying to make ends meet for her college tuition when a member of the European Parliament dies on her during a date and brings unwanted attention and notoriety her way.

09072010_ExplodingGirl.jpg“The Exploding Girl” (2009)
Directed by Bradley Rust Gray
Released by Oscilloscope Laboratories

Winner of a Best Actress prize when it premiered at last year’s Tribeca, the fast-rising Kazan gets her first lead in Gray’s Brooklyn-based character study of an epileptic college student who finds it hard to keep her emotions in check when she starts to have romantic feelings towards her longtime friend (Rendall) even as she’s still involved with another man who’s largely ignoring her. (Alison Willmore’s review is here and Aaron Hillis’ interview with Kazan is here.)

“The Fixer: The Taking of Ajmal Naqshbandi” (2009)
Directed by Ian Olds
Released by Passion River

“Occupation: Dreamland” documentarian Olds earned an Emmy nomination for this chronicle of Naqshbandi, a middle man in Afghanistan for foreign journalists looking to make contacts and connections for their stories who was abducted with Italian reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo by the Taliban and killed when their demands were not met.

“Growth” (2009)
Directed by Gabriel Cowan
Released by Anchor Bay

Perhaps a nice double bill option for Vincenzo Natali’s “Splice,” this horror flick stars Mircea Monroe as a woman who lost her mother to a scientific experiment on an island during the 1980s where residents were exposed to a parasite that improved their strength and awareness, but had terrible consequences down the road. Twenty years later, she returns to the island with her half-brother where she learns the worst is yet to come.

“John Rabe” (2009)
Directed by Florian Gallenberger
Released by Strand Releasing

A big winner at the German Film Awards where the historical drama picked up seven nominations (including a rare one for the American Steve Buscemi) and took home best film, “John Rabe” features “North Face” star Ulrich Tukur as a businessman who saved the lives of 200,000 Chinese by using his Nazi Party connections to create a safety zone for those fleeing Asia during the rape of Nanking in 1937. Buscemi plays an American physician who reluctantly helps Rabe with medical care for the refugees while “Inglourious Basterds” star Daniel Brühl plays a Jewish diplomat who inspires Rabe to create a safety zone.

“Killers” (2010)
Directed by Robert Luketic
Released by Lionsgate

Dismissed by some as a “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”-lite (by the few critics that saw it), the comedy part of this action comedy stems from the fact that only Ashton Kutcher is an assassin while his new bride Katherine Heigl is blissfully unaware until their neighbors come over one day to kill them. Hilarity ensues.

09072010_LossofaTeardropDiamond.jpg“The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond” (2009)
Directed by Jodie Markell
Released by Screen Media Films

Memphis-born actress Markell takes on another Tennessee with her feature directorial debut, an adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ unproduced screenplay from the late ’50s about a rebellious heiress (Howard) who defies the rules of her Southern high society circle by taking the son of her father’s caretaker (Evans) as her escort during the social season, but what started as a financial arrangement between the two flourishes into something more. (Alonso Duralde’s review is here.)

“MacGruber” (2010)
Directed by Jorma Taccone
Released by Rogue Pictures

This “SNL” spinoff film, itself a takeoff of master handyman “MacGuyver,” didn’t exactly set the world ablaze when it came out theatrically this summer, but Will Forte, Kirsten Wiig and Ryan Phillippe still got to blow a lot of shit up in the course of making this raucous comedy that pit MacGruber against his toughest foe to date, Dieter von Cunth (Val Kilmer). (Also check out Matt Zoller Seitz’s review, my review from SXSW and an interview with the cast.)

“Solitary Man” (2010)
Directed by Brian Koppelman and David Levien
Released by Anchor Bay

Last seen playing the ultimate scuzzy playboy in “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past,” Michael Douglas stars as an all-too fallible used car dealership titan whose life falls apart when his bad business dealings come back to haunt him and he begins to lose his touch as a ladies’ man, pushing away both his recently divorced ex-wife (Susan Sarandon) and daughter (Jenna Fischer) as he settles into a relationship with a well-connected younger woman (Mary-Louise Parker). “Ocean’s Thirteen” and “The Girlfriend Experience scribes Koppelman and Levien return for their first foray behind the camera since 2001’s “Knockaround Guys.” (My interview with Koppelman and Levien is here.)

09072010_SorryThanks.jpg“Sorry, Thanks” (2009)
Directed by Dia Sokol
Released by Cinema Epoch

Wiley Wiggins, Andrew Bujalski and Kenya Miles star as twentysomethings adrift in San Francisco in Bujalski cohort Sokol’s feature directorial debut. When the film premiered at SXSW in 2009, Alison Willmore wrote, “‘Sorry, Thanks’ is filled with the expected and somewhat tiresome semi-whimsical digressions…but [Sokol] is in touch with another emotion that’ll be familiar to anyone who’s watched similar films: the desire to give everyone on screen a good shake and suggest that they are actually well into their adult lives.”

“That Evening Sun” (2009)
Directed by Scott Teems
Released by Image Entertainment

Teems’ directorial debut was the hit of SXSW when it premiered in Austin, with many buzzing about the performance of 82-year-old Hal Holbrook as a Tennessee farmer who returns from an unpleasant stay at a nursing home to his farm and finds that his son (Walton Goggins) has leased the land to a ne’er do well (Ray McKinnon) who is trying to get his life together. (Aaron Hillis’ interview with Holbrook is here.)

Also making their first appearance on Blu-ray: “Forbidden Planet,” Tim Burton’s “Mars Attacks,” Robert Altman’s “The Player,” “Rising Sun,” Matthew Vaughn’s adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s “Stardust,” George Lucas’ “THX-1138”

[Additional photos: “The Exploding Girl,” Oscilloscope Laboratories, 2009; “The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond,” Paladin Films, 2009; “Sorry, Thanks,” IFC Films, 2009]

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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.


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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