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Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” Wins Venice, Draws Controversy

Sofia Coppola’s “Somewhere” Wins Venice, Draws Controversy (photo)

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Top prize at this year’s Venice Film Festival went to Sofia Coppola for her film “Somewhere,” a film about a washed-up actor (played by Stephen Dorff) getting to know his 11-year-old daughter (basically it’s “I’m Still Here,” only less fictionalized). But somewhere in the Italian press, a controversy quickly began brewing over Coppola’s victory. The reason? The Venice jury was headed by Quentin Tarantino, who once dated Coppola.

The Hollywood Reporter quotes Paolo Mereghetti, film critic of Italy’s largest newpaper, as saying “The presidency of Quentin Tarantino runs the risk of turning into the most obvious conflict of interest possible if you remember that ‘Somewhere’ and ‘Road to Nowhere’ were charming and interesting in their own ways, but nothing more than that.” “Road to Nowhere,” by the way, is a new film from Monte Hellman, who directed the car chase classic (and “Death Proof” inspiration) “Two Lane Blacktop.” Hellman, a mentor of Tarantino, received a special prize from the Venice jury “for overall work.”

Do I think Tarantino was “playing favorites” with the award for Hellman? Probably. But so what? He invented a career achievement award and gave it to him. The Coppola accusation is far more serious, but also far less likely. I don’t know the state of Tarantino’s current relationship with Coppola and I haven’t seen “Somewhere.” But the mere description sounds like something up Tarantino’s alley in two big ways: a sad story of the Los Angeles underbelly (which describes every movie Tarantino made before “Death Proof”) and a faded star reclamation project for Dorff. Throw in some shots of women’s feet and Tarantino could have directed it himself. If he hadn’t had a relationship with its director, and he’d given the prize to “Somewhere” anyway, would we accuse him of liking it simply because it seemed like a movie he would make?

No, because that’s the guy’s taste. And if you don’t want Quentin Tarantino to give prizes to movies that fit his taste, don’t put him in a position to give out prizes to movies that fit his taste. Tarantino was announced as the head of the Venice jury on May 6, at the same time both Coppola and Hellman were announced as early members of the festival’s lineup. If the films weren’t worthy of consideration, or if there was concern on the part of the festival about a potential conflict of interest, they shouldn’t have been invited.

And why put all the blame on Tarantino? It wasn’t the QT Film Festival. He didn’t pick the films and he didn’t have the only vote. He was the head of a seven member jury, including composer Danny Elfman and director Arnaud Desplechin. Do they all have personal relationships with Coppola? Should we accuse them of trying to get on the Coppola wine comp list?

With respect to Mr. Mereghetti, the decisions of Tarantino’s jury, like the decisions of all juries at all festivals, are subjective. If they’d selected Mereghetti’s favorite film as the best feature, a “Somewhere” fan could have just as easily accused Tarantino of snubbing it because an ex-girlfriend he doesn’t get along with had made it. It was a no-win situation for him, and, unfortunately, for Coppola, who now has a proverbial asterisk branded into her Golden Lion.

For a full list of winners from Venice, go to the festival’s official website.

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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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